Study Guide

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Act III, Scene vii

By William Shakespeare

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Act III, Scene vii

  • Cleopatra readies to go to battle alongside Antony, though Enobarbus thinks it’s not a place fit for women. Further, she’ll be a distraction to Antony, when all his attention needs to be on the war.
  • She won’t hear any of it, despite the fact that the Romans are taunting that a woman and her maids are running the war.
  • Antony interrupts this little discussion of gender roles and announces to Canidius, one of his soldiers, that they’ll fight by sea.
  • Enobarbus and Canidius plead with him; as his fleet and sea power are much weaker than Caesar’s, they’re sure to be doomed.
  • Still, Caesar has challenged Antony at sea, so in spite of his good sense, he won’t back down. Cleopatra pledges sixty ships, and Antony contends that if they lose at sea, they can still fight by land.
  • A messenger enters with the news that Caesar is already conquering, so there’s no time to waste. The main players exit with Antony preparing for war on the water.
  • Canidius and a soldier stay back, lamenting Antony’s decision to fight in the arena where he’s weakest (the sea)—he’s being led not by tactics, but by a woman.
  • Caesar has traveled quickly, and his power is only growing. Still, they’ll take care of land preparations while Antony puts the brunt of their force into the sea.

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