THE TRAGEDY OF ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
O, that I knew this husband, which, you say, must charge his horns with garlands! Soothsayer Your will? Is't you, sir, that know things? Soothsayer In nature's infinite book of secrecy A little I can read. LEPIDUS I must not think there are Evils enow to darken all his goodness: His faults in him seem as the spots of heaven, More fiery by night's blackness; hereditary, Rather than purchased; what he cannot change, Than what he chooses. Let us grant, it is not Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy; To give a kingdom for a mirth; to sit And keep the turn of tippling with a slave; To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet With knaves that smell of sweat: say this becomes him,-- As his composure must be rare indeed Whom these things cannot blemish,--yet must Antony No way excuse his soils, when we do bear So great weight in his lightness.
In This Section
When a message arrives informing him that his wife, Fulvia, is dead and that Pompey is raising an army to rebel against the triumvirate, Antony decides to return to Rome. Upon his arrival, he and Caesar quarrel, while Lepidus ineffectually tries to make peace. However, when a messenger delivers word that Octavia is plain and unimpressive, Cleopatra becomes confident that she will win Antony back. The triumvirs meet Pompey and settle their differences without going to battle. Pompey agrees to keep peace in exchange for rule over Sicily and Sardinia.
After defeating Brutus and Cassius, following the assassination of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony becomes one of the three rulers of the Roman Empire, together with Octavius Caesar and Lepidus, and is responsible for the eastern part of the empire. They make peace with Pompey. Cleopatra goes to her tomb and sends a message to Antony that she is dead. Antony is devastated and decides to kill himself. He botches the suicide and wounds himself without dying.
Antony is captivated by Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Gossip and scandal leads to plots of murder and battles. While in Alexandria however, the ageing Antony has become captivated by Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and mother to Julius Caesar's illegitimate son, Caesarion. The gossip and scandal this is creating both amongst Romans in Alexandria and at home in Rome gives rise to dissention between Octavius and Antony, whose behaviour is felt to be debauched and 'un-Roman'. At the same time as the power of the triumvirate is being challenged by a dissatisfied senator, Pompey, Antony hears news from Rome that his wife, Fulvia, is dead. These two issues together force Antony to return to Rome and take up his responsibilities as a triumvir again.