Study Guide

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Act I, Scene iv

By William Shakespeare

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Act I, Scene iv

  • Back in Rome, Octavius Caesar conferences with Lepidus, another member of the triumvirate (group of three) that leads Rome.
  • Caesar complains that Antony, the third member of the triumvirate, has been fishing, drinking, and partying in Egypt, instead of doing his duty to Rome.
  • Lepidus tries to defend Antony, suggesting his faults are in his nature, maybe inherited, and that they’re not that big of a deal compared to his good traits.
  • Caesar’s not having any of it, though. He says it’s one thing for Antony to give up his manhood and follow a woman in drunken revelry, but he leaves too great a burden on the other two members of the triumvirate. Basically he’s been letting everyone down. This is no time for him to be fooling around in Egypt, there's serious business is afoot in Rome.
  • A messenger enters with the news that Pompey’s forces at sea are strong. Worse, it turns out that Caesar’s men are defecting and joining Pompey’s army because they were only with Caesar out of fear, not out of loyalty.
  • Even worse news soon arrives: the sea is overrun with pirates.
  • Caesar wishes Antony, who has already proven himself as a soldier, would hurry up and get there, as they need his help.
  • He and Lepidus agree to raise their forces together against Pompey, and presumably wait for Antony.

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