Study Guide

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Act II, Scene ii

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Act II, Scene ii

  • At Lepidus’s house in Rome, Lepidus talks to Enobarbus, Antony’s confidante. Lepidus tries to get Enobarbus to convince Antony to go easy on Caesar, but Enobarbus is certain that Antony shouldn’t back down.
  • Caesar and Antony enter with their attendants, and the talk begins with Lepidus encouraging everyone to just be friends.
  • Caesar is clearly unhappy—Antony’s behavior in Egypt has made him a joke in Rome. Further, Antony’s wife and brother waged war against Caesar, which was not cool.
  • Antony insists his brother didn’t consult him about the war, and his wife was a difficult woman who did what she pleased.
  • Caesar continues to list his grievances, and is upset that Antony ignored his messages while away.
  • Antony points out he was too drunk to deal with messages (inexcusable), but he did, to his credit, apologize to Caesar’s messenger the next morning in a hung-over state.
  • As they continue to argue, Maecenas breaks in and asks that they kiss and make up so they can deal with the whole Pompey situation, as imminent invasion is slightly more important than past slights.
  • Agrippa, another of Caesar’s men, suggests that the best way to put the past behind them is to have something that will bind them in the future. Caesar’s sister Octavia is a widow, and they all decide it’s a good idea for Antony to marry her. Never mind that Antony’s wife is fresh in the grave, his heart is in Egypt, and he’s generally a player. Octavia will be symbolic of the bond between Caesar and Antony, the glue that will hold them together.
  • Antony accepts the marriage, and the men shake hands, promising to be brothers.
  • Having traded the woman Octavia like a horse, they return to the present matter of the war. Pomey has recently been throwing gifts Antony’s way. Still, he’s an enemy. His force at sea is masterful and he’s only getting stronger on land. The men agree to head toward Pompey’s army at Misena, in southern Italy.
  • Then they remember that Lepidus (the third member of the triumvirate). Since he’s supposed to rule the world with them, they invite him to come too.
  • Once the big dogs leave, Enobarbus is left with Agrippa and Maecenas, whom he regales with "dude, we were so drunk" kinds of stories about fun times they had in Egypt. He describes Cleopatra’s pomp and beauty, and the time Antony first met her. She showed up in a pimped-out ride on the water, and Antony, at the marketplace, invited her on a dinner date solely based on her fancy ride.
  • Cleopatra refused his original invitation and asks him to dine with her instead. This was aggravating but intriguing, seeing as no women ever refused Antony.
  • Antony was smitten as soon as he saw this woman, and then, as Shakespeare delicately puts it, "He ploughed her, and she cropp’d," meaning he had sex with her and then she bore him a child.
  • Enobarbus is sure that Antony is so beguiled by this wonderful woman that even marriage to Octavia won’t keep him away from her long.

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