Scene by Scene Synopsis
Scene: Several parts of the Roman Empire.
Act I, Scene 1: In Alexandria the Roman Philo laments to Demetrius that their leader, Antony, is involved with the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, and neglects his military duties. Cleopatra and Antony appear as news from Rome arrives, and she taunts him and accuses him of subservience to his wife and the Roman senate He therefore refuses to hear the messages.
Act I, Scene 2: An Egyptian Soothsayer predicts that Cleopatra's waiting-woman Charmian shall outlive her mistress and adds that she has seen better times in the past than she shall in future. He sees an identical fortune for another waiting-woman, Iras. The two women laugh over these predictions with their fellow servant Alexas. Cleopatra arrives and declares that she will not speak with Antony, who is approaching, and then leaves with her servants. Antony arrives accompanied by a Messenger who bears the news that Antony's feuding wife and brother had united to fight against Octavius, but were defeated. The Messenger also states that a renegade Roman general has led the Parthians in a conquest of Roman territory Antony is angry with himself, for the conquered lands were lost while he was dallying with Cleopatra. More news arrives: Antony's wife has died. Antony dismisses the messengers and reflects that he had wished his wife dead and now regrets it; he now wishes he could break away from Cleopatra. He summons his lieutenant Enobarbus, who makes bawdy jokes about Antony's affair with the queen until Antony sternly orders preparations for a return to Rome where he is needed to aid Caesar against a rebel, Pompey.
Act I, Scene 3: Charmian advises Cleopatra to accommodate Antony in every way if she wants him to love her, but the queen rejects this idea. Antony appears and announces his departure; Cleopatra taunts him, but he remains determined, and she finally wishes him well He assures her of his love.
Act I, Scene 4: In Rome Caesar disgustedly tells Lepidus of Antony's debauchery with Cleopatra. News arrives of the rebel Pompey, aided by the pirates Menecrates and Menas. Caesar hopes that Antony will return to the soldierly ways he was once famous for.
Act I, Scene 5: In Alexandria Cleopatra grieves over Antony's absence and praises him enthusiastically. Charmian teasingly reminds her that she had once felt the same about Julius Caesar when he was in Egypt years earlier.
Act II, Scene 1: In Messina Pompey confers with Menas and Menecrates. He states that his chances of defeating Caesar and Lepidus are good since Antony, their ally, dallies in Egypt. News arrives that Antony is about to rejoin his friends; Pompey worries but continues to hope for the best.
Act II, Scene 2: Lepidus entreats Enobarbus to encourage in Antony a peaceful attitude towards Caesar, but Enobarbus declares that Antony's honor comes first. Antony and Caesar arrive to negotiate. Antony denies any part in the rebellion of his wife and brother. He apologizes for not having assisted Caesar against it and admitting that he has been too decadent in Egypt. The two leaders agree to put the issue aside and fight together against Pompey, and to further their alliance Antony shall marry Caesar's sister Octavia. The leaders leave together while their followers remain, and Enobarbus tells Maecenas and Agrippa about the gorgeous Cleopatra. He predicts that Antony will never leave her for good.
Act II, Scene 3: Antony, married to Octavia, promises faithfulness. He consults the Soothsayer who has come to Rome with him. The seer advises him to return to Egypt because Caesar's presence diminishes his prospects for success. Antony decides to follow this advice.
Act II, Scene 4: Lepidus, Maecenas, and Agrippa prepare to leave Rome; they will meet Antony on campaign against Pompey.
Act II, Scene 5: In Alexandria Cleopatra receives word that Antony has married Octavia. Raging, she threatens the Messenger with death; calming, she sinks into depression.
Act II, Scene 6: Pompey agrees to a truce with Antony, Caesar, and Lepidus. The leaders leave to attend a celebratory feast aboard Pompey's ship. Enobarbus and Menas stay behind and gossip; they agree that Pompey should have maintained his rebellion while he could. Enobarbus predicts that Antony will abandon Octavia for Cleopatra.
Act II, Scene 7: At the banquet the drunken Lepidus is teased by the other leaders. Menas takes Pompey aside and suggests that they kill all three Roman leaders, leaving Pompey the sole ruler of the empire, but Pompey declares that while he could approve such an action after it was done, he cannot honorably order it ahead of time. To himself, Menas declares that he will desert this foolishly scrupulous master, for Pompey will obviously lose in the political wars. Caesar declares that their drunkenness is wasteful and leaves. The other leaders follow.
Act III, Scene 1: Antony's general Ventidius, who has defeated a Parthian army, tells his lieutenant Silius that he will not pursue the fleeing enemy. He states that he does not want to succeed too thoroughly lest Antony feel overshadowed and in revenge crush his military career. Silius admires Ventidius' political shrewdness. They go to meet Antony in Athens.
Act III, Scene 2: Antony and his followers prepare to depart from Rome. Caesar and Octavia are deeply moved at the separation, while he and Antony exchange tense and suspicious farewells.
Act III, Scene 3: Cleopatra interrogates the Messenger about Octavia; he tells her that Antony's new wife is an unattractive woman and details her unappealing features. The queen is greatly relieved.
Act III, Scene 4: In Athens Octavia is upset by the rising enmity between her husband and her brother and begs to be sent as an intermediary between them. Antony agrees, and she prepares to go to Rome.
Act III, Scene 5: Eros informs Enobarbus that Caesar and Lepidus have defeated Pompey, but that Caesar has arrested Lepidus and sentenced him to death. Enobarbus anticipates war between Antony and Caesar.
Act III, Scene 6: In Rome Caesar angrily reports that Antony, now in Egypt, has crowned himself and Cleopatra rulers of the eastern empire—a betrayal of both Octavia and Caesar and a virtual act of war against Rome. Octavia appears to negotiate for Antony, whom she believes is still in Athens.
Act III, Scene 7: At an army camp near Actium Enobarbus tells Cleopatra that her presence is a distraction to Antony, but she insists on remaining. Antony appears and remarks that Caesar has made a very rapid advance. He declares he will accept Caesar's challenge to fight a naval battle, despite the objections of his advisers that they are weakest at sea.
Act III, Scene 8: Caesar warns his general Taurus not to fight on land until after the sea battle.
Act III, Scene 9: Antony orders Enobarbus to establish a post from which to observe the sea battle.
Act III, Scene 10: Troops from both sides march past; a sea battle is heard. Enobarbus despairs as he sees Antony's flagship retreat. Scarus reports that just as the battle might have been won by Antony's navy, Cleopatra sailed away from it. Antony followed, and the rest of the fleet followed him. Canidius arrives and confirms the news of defeat. He declares that he will surrender his forces to Caesar.
Act III, Scene 11: Antony tells his attendants to flee, for he no longer deserves their loyalty. He declares to Cleopatra that though he is filled with despair, his love for her still seems worth all that has been lost.
Act III, Scene 12: An Ambassador delivers to Caesar Antony's request that he be permitted to live in Egypt or Athens and that Cleopatra continue to rule Egypt. Caesar sends him back with a rejection of Antony's request and an assurance to Cleopatra that she can have whatever she wants if she will kill Antony or drive him from Egypt. Then he sends Thidias to her with the same message, telling him to make her any promises he chooses.
Act III, Scene 13: Thidias arrives and declares to Cleopatra that Caesar believes she had joined Antony out of fear, not love. The queen accepts Caesar's offer of deliverance from Antony. Antony appears as Thidias kisses Cleopatra's hand in acknowledgement other alliance with Caesar. Antony has his Servants carry Thidias away and whip him, and he accuses Cleopatra bitterly. When the beaten Thidias is returned, Antony sends him back to Caesar with a defiant message. Cleopatra says that despite her surrender to Caesar she still loves Antony. He takes heart and declares that he is prepared to carry on the war against Caesar, who has arrived at Alexandria, with the remnants of his forces. He says that they will have a grand banquet that night, as in the past, and he and Cleopatra leave to prepare for it. Enobarbus reflects on Antony's folly and decides that he will desert him.
Act IV, Scene 1: Caesar describes Antony's contemptuous challenges. Maecenas recommends attacking immediately, for Antony's judgment is clearly clouded by anger, and Caesar agrees.
Act IV, Scene 2: At the banquet Antony declares that he'll fight to the end and either win or recover his honor in death. When he bids the Servitors farewell he suggests that this night might be his last. When the servants and Enobarbus weep, he declares that, on the contrary, they will triumph the next day.
Act IV, Scene 3: A group of Antony's sentries hear strange noises that they take to be a bad omen for the forthcoming battle.
Act IV, Scene 4: Antony lets Cleopatra help him into his amour, and he leaves for the battle in high spirits.
Act IV, Scene 5: Antony learns that Enobarbus has deserted to Caesar but he is not angry. He recognizes that his own faults have driven his subordinate to despair. He orders Enobarbus' belongings sent to him.
Act IV, Scene 6: At Caesar's headquarters a SOLDIER (10) brings Enobarbus the belongings sent by Antony, and the deserter is stricken by pangs of conscience. He declares that he will die of a broken heart.
Act IV, Scene 7: Agrippa and his troops retreat before Antony and Scarus' forces. Scarus is wounded but insists on continuing the pursuit.
Act IV, Scene 8: Victorious in the day's fighting, Antony returns to Cleopatra. He praises Scarus for his great bravery and prowess.
Act IV, Scene 9: Outside Caesar's camp a Sentry and his Watchman discover the dying Enobarbus, who regrets his disloyalty and grieves for his lost honor.
Act IV, Scene 10: Antony and Scarus prepare for a combined battle on both land and sea.
Act IV, Scene 11: Caesar decides to concentrate on fighting at sea.
Act IV, Scene 12: Scarus muses on bad omens and on Antony's fretful mood. Antony announces that Cleopatra's navy has deserted to Caesar and that the battle is lost. He sends Scarus to order a general retreat, and he reflects that his desperate condition is the fault of his infatuation with Cleopatra, whom he believes has betrayed him. Cleopatra appears and Antony drives her away with his rage. He declares that he will kill her.
Act IV, Scene 13: Cleopatra flees from Antony and takes refuge in a monument. She sends him word that she has committed suicide, speaking his name as she died.
Act IV, Scene 14: As Antony contemplates suicide, he is brought word that Cleopatra has killed herself, and he decides to do so, too. He orders Eros to kill him, but Eros kills himself instead. Antony then attempts to fall on his sword, but succeeds only in wounding himself. Decretas appears and takes Antony's sword to Caesar to ingratiate himself with the conqueror. Diomedes brings word from Cleopatra. Realizing that Antony might kill himself, she reveals her lie and summons him. Antony orders himself carried to her on a litter.
Act IV , Scene 15: Antony, on his litter, is hoisted up to Cleopatra's hiding place in the monument. He tells Cleopatra that she should trust only Proculeius among Caesar's court. He proudly states that in killing himself he has prevented Caesar from killing him, and he dies. Cleopatra declares that she too will die in the proud Roman fashion.
Act V, Scene 1: Caesar sends Dolabella to demand that Antony surrender. Decretas arrives with Antony's sword and word of his suicide. Caesar and his friends mourn the death of a great man even though he was their enemy. An Egyptian appears, sent by Cleopatra to receive Caesar's orders. Caesar sends him back with assurances that he offers mercy to the queen; he sends Proculeius and GALLUS to Cleopatra to confirm the message.
Act V, Scene 2: Cleopatra says that she is content to die. Proculeius arrives and assures her that Caesar will give Egypt to her son. Callus appears with soldiers to guard Cleopatra. When she sees this, she attempts to stab herself but is disarmed by Proculeius. Dolabella arrives to replace Proculeius; moved by Cleopatra's elegy for Antony, he confides that Caesar intends to parade her ignominiously through the streets of Rome. Caesar arrives and generously offers mercy to Cleopatra, who submits, giving him a list of all her possessions. However, her treasurer Seleucus asserts that the list is incomplete. Cleopatra rages at him, but Caesar assures her that it does not matter for she can keep whatever she wants. He leaves, and .Cleopatra sends Charmian on a secret errand as Dolabella returns to tell the queen that Caesar intends to transport her to Rome in three days. Charmian returns and a Clown arrives with poisonous snakes. After he leaves Cleopatra prepares to die. Iras dies, brokenhearted, as Cleopatra applies two asps to herself and dies when they bite her; Charmian does the same. Dolabella and Caesar return, and Caesar declares that Cleopatra shall be buried with Antony after a grand funeral celebrating the nobility of their love.
To view other Antony and Cleopatra sections:
To view the other Plays click below:
To view other Shakespeare Library sections:
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments about this web site.
[Home] [Upcoming Shows] [HSC Venues] [Past Productions] [Articles] [HSC Programs]