Study Guide

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Act I, Scene iii

By William Shakespeare

Act I, Scene iii

  • Meanwhile Cleopatra sends Alexas, her servant, to see what Antony is doing and tells her if she finds him upset, she should tell him Cleopatra is super happy; if he's happy, she should tell him Cleopatra is sad. But most importantly, she can't let Antony know that Cleopatra sent her. Cleo believes the best way to keep a man’s interest is to seem as disinterested in him as possible.
  • Charmian tries to advise Cleopatra against playing these games with Antony, but Cleopatra tells her she doesn't know what she's talking about. Cleo knows how to keep a man around—Charmian only knows how to lose one.
  • Just then, Antony shows up with the news that he’s leaving for Rome. Cleopatra swoons this way and that, wishing she’d never met him.
  • He finally explains that he needs to take care of the war brewing with Sextus Pompeius. Further, Cleopatra should feel okay about him going because Fulvia is dead.
  • Cleopatra has a moment of seriousness. She is shocked by Fulvia’s death, but also at Antony’s calmness over the death. Cleopatra worries that Antony would be equally unaffected by her death.
  • They argue a bit over how much Antony loves Cleopatra, and whether Antony will forget Cleopatra as quickly as he forgot Fulvia.
  • Finally Cleopatra concedes he should go to Rome and take care of his affairs. She wishes him well, and they both promise they’ll be with each other in spirit while they’re apart physically.
  • Antony leaves.