Summary of Play "Antony and Cleopatra"

Categories: Antony and Cleopatra
About this essay

The play that I chose to read and study is Antony and Cleopatra. It was written in “1606”(Antony). There are no traces as to where Shakespeare was living with while writing this play. Antony and Cleopatra was first published in “1623 from an authorial draft”(Antony). There is no evidence to show when Antony and Cleopatra took place. The mood of the play is suspenseful because throughout the play the is constantly wondering what going to happen next. Like, will Antony make the right decision? What will Cleopatra do? You never really know what to expect next.

In Act 1 scene 1 of Antony and Cleopatra, taking place in Rome and Egypt, Antony, an antagonist and one of three rulers of The Roman Empire, and Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and Antony’s mistress, have a little argument after Antony gets a letter from Rome. It seems as if Cleopatra’s intentions are to make Antony not focused on his work. She fusses about the letters while Antony just continues trying to cease all wrong feelings toward him.

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Cleopatra shows a little jealousy towards Fulvia, Antony’s wife, and her relationship with Antony. While Antony is disgustingly distracted by the egyptian whore, Demetrious and Philo continue to lose respect for Antony. This is a major conflict because Antony is too distracted by Cleopatra, to the extent that he is failing to support The Roman Empire.

In scene 7, Caesar, Lepidus and Antony are all at sea with Pompey. Lepidus is ridiculously drunk. Menas realizes what they can do, so he pulls Pompey aside and suggests that they kill the three triumvirs to benefit then in control of the Western World.

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Pompey says it’s a good plan but it would dishonor him. Pompey’s decision angers Menas and he threatens to leave pompey’s service.

In Act 3 scenes 1 and 2 Ventidius defeats the Parthians. One of his soldiers advised him to go further into Parthia to get more power but, he turns him down to avoid falling out of Antony’s favor. Octavia and Caesar are close to departure. Lepidus is hungover from the night before. As Caesar departs he wants Antony to treat his sister right. Antony reassures Caesar that he will not mistreat his sister.

In scenes 3 and 4 Cleopatra’s messenger tell her that Antony’s new wife is shorter than Cleopatra is and has a soft voice. Cleopatra thinks his new wife is short and stupid, and Antony cannot possibly enjoy her. She rewards her messenger and is positive that Antony will be back. Back in Rome, Antony vents to Octavia about Caesar’s actions. He has proposed war against Pompey and has publicly shamed Antony. Octavia stays neutral and encourages Antony to keep peace. Octavia is stuck in the middle of a war between her husband and her brother. Antony wants and needs to save his honor.

In scenes 5 and 6, Enobarbus and Eros talk about Caesar’s defeat against Pompey. Caesar used Lepidus’ men to help win the war, but once he gained victory he denied Lepidus his share of the benefits. Caesar then accused Lepidus plotting against him and has Lepidus arrested. Antony’s Navy is sailing to Italy. In Rome, Caesar goes against Antony and tells Maecenas that Antony fled to Egypt and is claiming the role of Cleopatra’s King. Antony has given Cleopatra most of the Middle East and made her Queen of Syria, Cyprus, and Lydia. Caesar refuses to give Lepidus and Antony any share of his winnings. He says he’s only giving them their share if Antony agrees to give him part of Armenia and parts of his other lands. Caesar then goes and tells Octavia of Antony’s wrongdoings in Egypt. Octavia is heartbroken.

In scene 7, 8 and 9, Cleopatra plans to go to battle with Antony but Enobarbus suggest that she’ll just be a distraction to Antony. Antony demands on meeting Caesar at sea. Cleopatra brings her six ships and Antony’s men to secure the win at battle. Enobarbus still is trying to convince Antony that Cleopatra should not come but Antony exits despite the protest. The next day Antony tells Enobarbus to set his men up at a hilltop to give them a good view of the battle.

In scene 10 and 11, In battle, Antony has an advantage until Cleopatra’s ships leave and Antony goes trailing behind her. Antony left his men at a disadvantage and giving Caesar the victory. Antony’s men are astonished at his shameful actions. Camidius, an army general, decides to switch to Caesar, side taking his army with him, Antony also lost six allies do to his lustful act. Regardless of Antony’s dishonorable actions Enobarbus stays loyal by Antony side. Antony is ashamed by his cowardly actions at battle.This is a major conflict. Antony has been astray from is duty for some time now, it took him abandoning his men in battle to notice he is not the noble soldier he once was. Antony has become too tied up in Cleopatra to where he has lost sight to who he really is.. He even goes to tell his servants to leave his service because they shouldn’t have to serve such a cowardly master. Antony whines to Cleopatra of how noble and honorable he once was. He questions Cleopatra for leaving the battle. Cleopatra claims she didn’t think he’d follow behind her. Antony forgives her.

In scenes 12 and 13, Antony has his ambassador go to ask Caesar if he’s allowed to stay in Egypt . Caesar dismisses Antony’s request. The ambassador then tells caesar of Cleopatra’s request for Egypt to be passed down in her family line. Caesar says he’ll only agree if she bans Antony from Egypt. Enobarbus comforts Cleopatra telling her not to blame herself for Antony’s actions. Antony had a choice rather he should stay or follow her and he chose to follow her. Antony vows to battle Caesar himself. Enobarbus still stays loyal to Antony. Cleopatra claims she’s only with Antony out of fear not love and she then chooses to side with Caesar. When antony hears this it angers him. He wonders why she would betray him. Responding, Cleopatra say she’d never betray him. Antony leaves her to prepares to attack Caesar. Enobarbus doesn’t think Antony is making the logical decisions and decides that it’s time to leave from Antony’s service.This is a major conflict because Enobarbus was just about the realest on Antony’s team. He’d never betray Antony, so for him to just up and leave this could only mean more downward fall for Antony.

In Act 4 scenes 1, 2, 3 and 4 ,While in Egypt Caesar receives Antony’s challenge and he takes it as a joke and blows it off. Maecenas thinks Caesar should use Antony’s rage. So, Caesar gets an army ready to take Antony out. Enobarbus bring some news to Antony, telling him that Caesar will not fight him. Antony is confused, Enobarbus suggests that Caesar is to big headed to fight Antony alone. Antony is determined to fight Caesar, until he gains either victory or death. Antony and his men have a, what could be his last, meal. Later on that day, some of Antony’s soldiers hear music in the night. They think the music is from Hercules, the God Antony looks up to. The next day Eros preps Antony for battle. Antony is very confident about his battle with Caesar. Antony says his goodbyes to Cleopatra and gets ready for battle.

In scenes 5 and 6, While Antony is preparing for battle he wishes he would have took his chance to resist Caesar. Had Antony just resisted Caesar, Enobarbus might still be on his side. Antony has Enobarbus things brought to him. Anxious for victory Caesar signals Agrippa to let the battle begin. Caesars lineup is strategic, First in line he has the man that left Antony’s side. Enobarbus notices his own traitorous actions and would die before he fought against Antony.

In scenes 7,8 and 9, Anthony has the advantage in battle. Agrippa is shocked by Anthony’s forces and commands his troops to flee. Antony and his men win the battle and Anthony claims Alexandria. After the war, Anthony vows to destroy Caesar’s army. Antony tells his men to go home to their families to celebrate. Cleopatra and Antony praise Scarus for his honorable actions and battle. Antony, Cleopatra, and his troops parade through the streets of Alexandria.

In scenes 10-14, Enobarbus wishes death upon himself. He hopes to go down in history as a traitor. Enobarbus leaves himself to die in a ditch, once he’s dead, his body is taken to by Caesar’s Sentries and they bury him. Antony is now ready to prep himself for Caesar’s attack at sea. Once the battle has begun Antony watches with Scarus. Scarus notices Cleopatra’s weak army. Cleopatra’s fleet betrays Antony and turned to Caesar’s side. This is a major conflict. For Cleopatra to love Antony so dearly, how could she betray him in battle like it was nothing. This act alone was the beginning of a ripple of bad decisions. Antony orders his men to flee. Antony threatens to kill Cleopatra for betraying him.This is a major conflict. As anyone could tell thus far Antony was madly in love with Cleopatra. So for her to drive him to be as angry to where he wanted to kill her, she must’ve really hurt Antony with this act. After the battle Cleopatra confides in her maids of Antony’s harsh words to her. Charmian gives Cleopatra the idea to fake her death to make Antony not angry with her. Cleopatra agrees to go along with the plan.

In scene 15, Antony is prepared to kill Cleopatra until he gets the false report that Cleopatra has died. Antony decides to kill himself to join his lover. Antony asks Eros to murder him but he refuses. Antony reminds him of the oath he one made, So Eros decides that he will kill Anthony. Eros gets ready to stab Antony, but instead he stabs himself. Anthony then attempts to kill himself by falling on his sword but his wound is non-fatal. In the midst of dying Antony tells his guards to have him buried next to Cleopatra. This is the climax of the play, had Cleopatra not faked her death, she and Antony could’ve been together and it would’ve prevented a line of suicides.

In scene 16, Antony is still not dead, his guards took him up to Cleopatra’s hiding place. Antony wishes to spend his last moments with her. Cleopatra holds Antony in her arms and gives him one last kiss before he dies in her arms. Cleopatra plans to kill herself with the help of her maids, Iris and Charmian.

In Act 5, This is the resolution of the play, Caesar has Dolabella deliver a message to Antony telling him to surrender. Once Dolabella leaves Decretus enters, asking Caesar to allow him to join his service now that Antony is dead. Caesar is displeased that more people weren’t notified of the death of one who is so important and honorable. Caesar has Proculeius watching over Cleopatra. While Proculeius isn’t watching Cleopatra grabs a dagger and goes to stab herself but Proculeius grabs the knife before she succeeds. Once Proculeius’ shift is over, Dolabella comes to guard her. Cleopatra vents to Dolabella. Dolabella tells her that Caesar plans to make her a prisoner of war. Caesar let’s Cleopatra know that the only way her kids will be fine is if she doesn’t kill herself. He also lets her know that he doesn’t desire her wealth. Cleopatra then decide to kill herself, then be seen as a whore. Cleopatra dresses herself and her finest robe she then kisses her maids goodbye and she takes the basket of poisonous snakes and allows them to feast on her flesh. Once her body is discovered Caesar has her buried next to Antony.

Antony and Cleopatra is a Tragedy. The story-line starts with conflict. At the beginning of the play Pholio is concerned with Antony, who is so infatuated with Cleopatra that he is failing to focus on his job. The main character starts off with a high social status and ends with a low status. Antony was once seen as a honorable, hard-working soldier, he eventually loses his high status when he loses focus and invests his time into pleasing Cleopatra. All of the characters in Antony and Cleopatra are serious characters. Throughout the story everyone is either trying to get Antony on track or it’s Antony and Cleopatra trying to get their relationship on track. Another sign to show that this is a tragedy is the supernatural events. A soothsayer somes to Antony and gives him insight on his future. The Soothsayer tell Antony:

“ …O, Antony, stay not by his side.

Thy daemon—hat thy spirit which keeps thee—is

Noble, courageous high, matchable

Where Caesar’s is not. But near him thy angel

Becomes afeard, as being o’erpowered. Therefore

Makes space enough between you.” (2.3.18-23)

The Soothsayer is telling Antony about his future if he stays in Rome. My last characteristic is insanity. Cleopatra went insane after Antony killed himself to be with Cleopatra again. She literally fed herself to poisonous snakes it seemed as if at that time Cleopatra would’ve done anything to die. (Rentz)

One theme of this play could be Choices. Antony’s main struggle is not making the right choices. He continues to choose Cleopatra over his duty to the Roman Empire which makes his social status and it keeps creating more and more problems. Antony was once so noble but now he lives to please Cleopatra. Cleopatra’s choices affected Antony the most. She had a choice on rather she wanted to fake her death or not but she chose to do it, now because of this choice Antony chose to kill himself. All these wrong choices caused a series of suicides. When instead Cleopatra could’ve chose not to betray Antony in the first place.

One important quote from this play is when Caesar says:

“Let’s 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 smells 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 foils when we do bear

So great a weight in his lightness. If he filled

His vacancy with his voluptuousness,

Full surfeits and the dryness of his bones

Call on him for’t. But to confound such time

That drums him from his sport, and speaks as loud

As his own state and ours—’tis to be chid

As we rate boys who, being mature in knowledge,

Pawn their experience to the present pleasure,

And so rebel to judgement.”


This quote is saying, Let’s say it’s okay to sleep with pompey’s wife or to sell a kingdom for a joke. That its proper to get drunk with a peasant, or walk around drunk through the city at noon and et in a fight with commoners. Even if this was how he acted on regularly, even though decency is rare for this man, we can’t keep excusing antony and keep doin all of his work while He is indulging in a whore. either way antony is wasting time and should be punished for choosing to waste it. This important because it shows that Caesar values him job. It’s important to him and it’s a priority, unlike it is to Antony.

Another important quote is:

I have fled myself, and have instructed cowards

To run and show their shoulders. Friends, begone.

I have myself resolved upon a course

Which has no need of you. Begone.

My treasure’s in the harbor. Take it. Oh,

I followed that I blush to look upon!

My very hairs do mutiny, for the white

Reprove the brown for rashness, and they them

For fear and doting. Friends, begone. You shall

Have letters from me to some friends that will

Sweep your way for you. Pray you, look not sad,

Nor make replies of loathness. Take the hint

Which my despair proclaims. Let that be left

Which leaves itself. To the seaside straightway!

I will possess you of that ship and treasure.

Leave me, I pray, a little. Pray you now,

Nay, do so, for indeed I have lost command.

Therefore I pray you. I’ll see you by and by.


Antony is saying he hasn’t been himself, he’s told cowards to turn their backs on him. His friends have left his side. He tells his servants to leave his service and take away his treasure. His very own hair on his head is at war with each other. The brown are hated by the white and the brown ones blame the white ones. Friends gone, i’ll introduce you to new friends. Don’t act sad or pity me. Forget the person that forgot himself. i’ll give away my ships. I’ve lost all authority, i’ll see you all in a while. This is important because Antony is finally realizing he is letting everyone down, realizing that he has not been himself, and he needs to take a leave from everyone and everything until he finds himself again.

One thing that is interesting about Antony and Cleopatra is Anthony is married to fulvia. Fulvia is living in Rome while Anthony is supposed to be in Egypt doing work. Instead while Anthony is in Egypt he’s having an affair with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. Eventually Antony and Cleopatra fall in love and start a relationship. This is interesting to me because it’s no secret to everyone that Antony and Cleopatra are dating, because they don’t try to hide it. No one has a problem with him cheating on his wife everyone’s just upset he’s not doing his job thoroughly (No)

Another Interesting fact is Shakespeare is actually born on May 3rd. According to the website No Sweat Shakespeare “Shakespeare was born under the old Julian calendar, what was April 23rd during Shakespeare’s life would actually be May 3rd according to today’s Gregorian calendar.”(Facts). This is very interesting to me because Shakespeare is a well-known person so you think they would have updated his birthday.

One More interesting fact for 7 years no one knows what Antony was doing. According to the webpage “” “Nobody knows what Shakespeare did between 1585 and 1592.” (10).This is very interesting and odd to me because researchers know how to dig out almost anything about anyone, how is it possible that they could not figure out and can’t figure out what Shakespeare was doing or where he was. It makes me wonder, what could he have been doing that he was completely off the radar?

Antony and Cleopatra withholds many different life lessons within it. It goes to show us what love can drive you to do. Love can be something great or it can be something that literally leads humans to want to kill themselves. Love truly can lead to madness.

Cite this page

Summary of Play "Antony and Cleopatra". (2021, Feb 25). Retrieved from

Summary of Play "Antony and Cleopatra"
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