Study Guide

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Act I, Scene v

By William Shakespeare

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Act I, Scene v

  • We’re back with Cleopatra in Alexandria. She’s verbally toying with Mardian, her eunuch (male servants who were castrated so they could protect women without the usual distractions), about whether he can feel anything for women, alluding to her self, obviously.
  • She then returns to sighing over Antony, and laments that when she was Julius Caesar’s mistress, she was "a morsel fit for a monarch." Her other lover, one of the elder Pompeys, was overcome by her looks alone. She worries she’s past her prime.
  • Just then, Alexas, another of her servants, enters with a pearl. It’s a gift from Antony, who made a big deal about the thing before giving it to Alexas to take to the Queen. Antony promises Cleopatra will soon be called mistress of the East, because of the kingdoms he’ll win for her.
  • Cleopatra asks Alexas how Antony looked, and is glad to hear he wasn’t really sad or really happy. She praises his moderation: seeming sad would make his followers sad, while seeming merry would make it seem like he took his job in Rome lightly.
  • She’s so pleased that she demands twenty messengers immediately, so she can write a ton of love letters to Antony. She claims she never loved Julius Caesar this way, but Charmian points out she has a habit of being in and out of love.
  • Cleopatra dismisses her sighs over Caesar as youthful folly, and goes back to penning her affections for Antony.

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