I. Antony and Cleopatra
A. teaching ideas
1. pick out quotations and elaborate with poem or prose
2. theme of youth and age; midlife crisis
a. closeness of these two to adolescents, especially RJ
3. this is about Eros, the erotic, Mars and Venus and their relation
a. much obscenity in I,ii
b. importance of asp images
c. comparing first and last scenes and symbols
B. Scene Outline
1. Act I [Dionysiac setting of Egypt]
a. i. * Alexandria. C's palace: A and C observed
i. Discussion of A's "dotage" by Philo and Demetrius
(1). war(Mars) vs. love--heart bursts buckles
(2). "oerflows the measure" --cf. Caesar
(3). "tawny front"--was Cleopatra black? --cf. Othello
(4). heart is both bellows and fan, heating and cooling lust
ii. She enters being fanned by entourage of ladies and eunuchs; emphasis on spectacle and being beheld
iii. Triple pillar of world transformed to trumpet's fool. Question of equivalence and value taken up by A and C [later indication he is drunk here]
(1). tell me how much; beyond reckoning (oerflows measure)
(2). she says she set "bourn" (geography)
iv. interruption of news from Rome (geography); he's irritated; she taunts him with Octavius' and Fulvia's power over him; baits him to declare his absolute enslavement to her
(1). Let Rome in Tiber melt--melting; loss of bourn and form; new heaven and new earth--transcendental perspective
(2). Kingdoms are Clay--nobleness of life is to do thus--Rome vs. Egypt
(a). dungy earth alike feeds beast and man; rejection of the political human, in favor of pleasure
(b). public kiss; we stand peerless
v. A. keeps praising; doesn't want to lose a minute and wander streets with her 'and note the qualities of people"--i.e. not participate--dismisses messengers without hearing them
vi. scene reframed: he approves the common liar--confirms his reputation
b. ii. Soothsayer reads Charmian's palm while Enob. orders in wine; Antony plans to leave
i. women play teasingly about sex and beauty; express unlimited desire for husbands
(1). "you think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes?"
(2). fortunes tonight: drunk to bed
(3). not in my husband's nose
(4). prayer to Isis for Alexas' misfortune in marriage
ii. C. searching for A. --a Roman thought hath struck him
(1). as he enters, she leaves: hide and seek
iii. A. does listen to messengers
(1). Bad news: wife warred with brother; made alliance against Caesar, then lost; Parthians are victorius in East
(2). His absence is disastrous; he's guilty; full of conflict: "These strong Eg. fetters I must break/Or lose myself in dotage."
(a). ambivalent about Fulvia's announced death
iv. Enobarbus jokes about killing women when they leave; about Cleopatra's deathly passion and its phoniness
(1). A. expresses regret to E. about being trapped by her cunnning
(a). E. is sarcastic about C. but also admiring of her and A's love
(2). E. sarcastic, cynical, obscene and flip about F.'s death
v. A. understands political need to return to Rome: "Our slippery people whose love is never linked to the deserver/Til his deserts are past..."
(1). pol. savvy; people are like lovers
c. iii. The parting
i. C. worried; tracking A. Using wiles: if you find him sad, Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report/That I am sudden sick
(1). she will be false; an actress
(2). debate over how to love
ii. plays sick and wounded; reproaches him for betraying Fulvia; won't let him speak; accuses him of lying; angers him and teases
(1). A. must return to woo the people's love
(2). uses his name and quality in wanton ways: O, my oblivion is a very Antony, and I am all forgotten.
iii. C. insists he will forget her; he that he'll not be away despite distance--both dissemble
d. iv. Rome
i. C. accuses A. of being unmanly; womanly; the abstract fo all faults; Lepidus is indulgent; he can't help it.
(1). immature; boyish; dispproving description of his revels; judgement and experience vs. present pleasure: boys pawn their experience to their present pleasure'and so rebel to judgment
(a). Just what Antony said. But Cleo. called Caesar a boy
(2). Pompey gains followers who love and don't fear him
(a). Caesar complains about the ebb and flow of people's love: "he which is was wished until he were....common body like to a vagabond flag...goes back and forth." 42
(b). calls on A. the great warrior
e. v. C. languishing (give me to drink mandragora) w.o. A.
i. fantasizes on A., C. and Pompey and how she conquered them
(1). Now I feed myself on most delicious poison
ii. messenger from A with pearl; she reacts with adoration; she's sent him 20 messengers
(1). takes back her former love of Caesar in reponse to Charmian's tease, referring to youth "My salad days/ When I was green in judgmnet, cold in blood..." 71-2
(a). Charmian parallel to Enobarbus
2. Act II
a. i. Messina-Pompey's house
i. Discussion with Menec. on gods and prayers; indeterminacy
ii. P. expects to prosper; expands on Antony's distraction by C. 18-27
(1). carried away by his own description of their pleasrue
(2). interrupted by unexpected news of A's return to Rome
(3). P: our enmity breeds their alliance
b. ii. Rome-Lepidus' house
i. Lep. trying to make peace betw. C. and A., excessively cordial
(1). theme of smaller and greater matters: But small to greater matters must give way. E: Not if the small come first. See also pleasure and honor; youth vs. experience
ii. Enob. is cynical tease
iii. Ceremonial greeting and testy encounter of Caesar and A.
(1). C. accuses A. of wife and brothers wars
(2). A. insists he's not responsible for brother or wife
(3). C. insists he wrote to A. who ignored his letters--this is scene in Act I; he was drunk; A. seeks to blame it on messenger
(a). A. begs pardon...Lepidus happy
(b). byplay between cynical Enobarbus and A.
iv. Only way to firm agreement between C. and A. is through C's. sister; courteous negotiation; attempt to build trust; then they proceed to alliance against Pompey.
v. Enob. and Maec. gossip about Egypt: eating, drinking and Cleopatra.
(1). Romans admiring fleshpots
(2). Description of burnished poop; lovesick winds; perfumes; tune of flutes; water amorous with strokes of oar; cloth of gold of tissue.
(a). heating and cooling at same time--like bellows in I,i.
(b). mermaids and cupids and nerieds; silken tackle;
(c). A. left alone in marketplace; invites her to dinner, she invites him and he loses his heart
(3). Maec. remebers her seduction of Julius C.
(4). Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety....she makes hungry/Where most she satisfies
(a). NB: vilest things /become themselves in her, that the holy priests/Bless her when she is riggish.
(5). Quick funny contrast to Octavia.
c. iii. Rome
i. A. promises to be good, to Octavia and C.
ii. Soothsayer calls him to egypt, saying C. overpowers his daemon/angel; he will always lose to C. at Roman game; A decides to return to E.
(1). A. the partier in JC
d. iv. Rome: departure of Ag. Mae. and Lep. to fight Pompey
e. v. Alexandria
i. C. asks music as moody food for love, then let it alone; cf. Orsino
(1). dreams of catching fish and calling them Antony
(2). remembers play with A.; tricking him with salt fish onhook; then nostalgically [pleasure] partying with him all night and then cross dressing.
(a). Interrupted by messenger: Ram thou thuy fuiruitful tidings in mine ears/that long time have been barren. [Madonna, Mae West type]
(3). C. hassles messenger with promises and threats [as she does all men]; leads up to news of A's marriage to Octavia; she torments messenger...on and on.
(4). histrionic exit
f. vi. Misenum--Pompey's barge
i. C. wants to settle with words not arms to save the life of "tall youth"; P. claims Brutus and Cassius' prevention of tyranny. P. blusters.
ii. P. takes their offer of Sicily and Sardinia; after harsh words, establishes peace with Antony
(1). A. never paid for P's father's house; P. took good care of A's mother
iii. They start to celbrate with feast on Pompey's barge
(1). Enobarbus and Menas would rather have fought
(2). they gossip about A's wedding and prophecy its failure
iv. vii. Pompey's galley--Egyptian atmosphere
(1). servants discuss leaders
(2). leaders enter drunk; Antony discourses on Egyptian predictions of famine with pyramids and nile
(a). imagery of fertility; slime and ooze; ebb and flow
(b). Lepidus making fool of himself discussing crocodile; Antony giving nonsensical description; Caesar commenting
(c). Menas offers Pompey lord of all the world; Pompey refuses but states he would have approved afterwards; Menas abandons him for not being political enough
(d). drunken dialogue; third part of the world is drunk; more emphasis on more drinking; ripening toward an Alexandrian feast; excess and more
(e). Caesar doesnt like drinking so much; Enobarbus suggest Egyptian bacchanal.
(1). all take hands with En.'s help; sing Bacchic song
(2). Caesar gives up; has enough
(3). wild party's over
(4). stage party...reeling and staggering
3. Act III
a. i. Plain in Syria
i. Ventid. is victorious over Parthians, but will not pursue greater victories for fear of overtopping his absent captain, A.
(1). Silius complements his tact and soldiery
(2). V. will write to A.; sense of A's absence
b. ii. Rome Caesar's house
i. Agrippa and Enobarbus mock Lepidus flattery of Caesar and Antony
ii. parting of A. and Octavia from C.; Enobarbus and Agrippa comment cynically about Antony's tears and Caesars
c. iii. Alexandria
i. C. quizzing messenger about Octavia and putting her down [comic scene, as are most of the preceding]
(1). everybody furiously flattering C.--like oriental tyrant
d. iv. Athens-A's house
i. A. hassling Octavia because of perceived slights from Caesar; she's caught in family/political bind, as he was earlier
ii. She will go to attempt to patch their differences
e. v. News report: Pompey and Lepidus removed from power by Antony and Caesar.
i. Pompey's throat cut by Antony's agent [unsatisfying exposition]
f. vi. Rome
i. Caesar reports Antony's bestowal of eastern empire on Cleopatra's sons, enthroned with her in marketplace
ii. C. and A. squabbling over spoils
iii. Octavia comes on peace mission, Caesar says she's castaway and that A's with C.
iv. Romans line up against A.
g. vii, viii, ix, x . Actium
i. Cleo. wants to participate in war; Enobarbus says women and war don't mix; she insists on her right "as the president of my kingdom will appear there for a man."
ii. Ant. addresses her as "sweet" in the strategy session
iii. A. insists on fighting by sea, against his advisors judgment, probably to please Cleo.
(1). "we are women's men"
(2). Caesar's speed is uncanny
iv. Caesar comes on; Antony deploys troops to watch sea battle
v. En. watches Cleo's sixty ships turn tail" we have kissed away kingdoms and provinces."
(1). En and Scarus watching Antony also turn and follow her--Experience, manhood, honor, neer before did violate so itself.
(2). Canidius after watching yields his troops to Caesar
h. xi. Alexandria
i. A. is ashamed of his cowardice; offers his followers gold and tells them to leave; he's completely down
ii. Cl. also distracted; both with attendants asking both to comfort one another
iii. She apologizes to him for fleeing; he to her for following; regrets having to sue to a young man
iv. Grand climax: he sees her tear and gets strong. give me a kiss; even this repays me. Start eating and drinking.
i. xii. Egypt: Caesar's camp
i. Messages of surrender from A and C; Caesar insists Cleo. betray Antony: enlists Thidias to win Cleo from A. with comments about women's fickleness[do they apply to men or to Octavia?]
j. xiii. Alex
i. Cleo and Enob. discuss the defeat: its A's fault for following C.
ii. A. distracted hears of C's offer: "To the boy Caesar send this grizzled head"; then challenges single combat.
(1). Enobarbus is cynically correct; calls A. a "sworder" or gladiator
iii. Enobarbus feels conflict about whether its foolish or transcendant to remain loyal to A.
(1). sees Cleo. accede to Thidias' hints and disclaims her love of A. , reinstates her love for Julius and lets Th. kiss her hand-- sluttish; language is full of flattery for Caesar.
(2). Antony senses authority melting from him, but has servant whipped [cf. Lear and Oswald]
(a). E: like Fool in Lear: Tis better playing with a lion's whelp than with an old one dying.
(1). A. harshly rebukes Cl.
(2). Tragic utterance about gods and loss of power and judgement; again curses her in wonderful language l. 130
(3). Thidias returned--bitter sarcasm in words to Caesar; offended at her grace with servant
(a). His anger again creates hope for a new battle and another night of carousing; Come lets have one more gaudy night: call to me/all my sad captains.
(b). bravado and Cl. joins the party--complete decadence; alcoholic behavior
(c). Enobarbus: A diminution in our captains brain/restores his heart...I will seek some way to leave him.
4. Act IV
a. i. Caesar angry; calls A. old ruffian; laughs at challenge; commands A's former solders to defeat him; proclaims wasteful feast.
b. ii. Antony rages; Enobarbus hilarious mock; A tries to make his followers weep and succeeds; then offers partying to cheer them up; Cleopatra technique.
c. iii. company of soldiers: music in the air and under the earth--sound of Hercules leaving him
d. iv. A. armoring; charming relation to Eros, his attendant. Cleo. wants to help again; A. high spirited for battle: To business that we love we rise betime/And go to't with delight. " [a great warrior and lover]
i. Cleo's agreement with Caesar simply forgotten
ii. followers are enthusiastic and loyal; Cleo wistful
e. v. Enobarbus left; A. sends treasure after him
f. vi. Caesar: wants to take A. alive: "The time of universal peace is near."
i. tactic is to get An. to "spend his fury/upon himself"
ii. those who defected to Caesar are unhappy and untrusted; Enobarbus feels terrible [our responses crucially shifted here]
g. vii. A. winning battle; soldiers are super valiant.
h. viii. Alexandria--Incredible sexual reunion with Cleopatra;
i. another vindication of his age; lionizes Scarus for fighting so brutally; has her kiss his hand
ii. party time again; wants to invite all soldiers to the palace
i. ix. Caesar's camp;
i. Enobarbus' despair; quality of his suffering; relation of his suffering to his earlier cynicism; he just dies.
j. x. xi. Both sea and land battle entered
k. xii. Another battle; Cleop. betrays A. yielding her fleet. Triple-turned whore. Wants revenge on Cleo.
i. she enters; he curses her with plea that she be exhibited as Caesar's trophy; she exits
ii. he threatens to kill her for betraying him to Caesar; NB closeness of love and betrayal
l. xiii. Cleo's plot--hide in the monument and tell A. she's dead; then get news of his response
m. xiv. A's suicide attempt*
i. long descriptions of clouds and racks changing shape, losing reality--"indistinct/as water is in water--just like A. has because he's been betrayed. Eros still with him.
(1). made the war for Egypt
ii. Mardian reports C's suicide with Antony's name on her lips in sexual expiration
(1). in the midst a tearying groan did break
the name of Antony; it was divided
between her heart and lips: she rendered life
Thy name so buried in her
iii. Antony in despair: very force entangles/itself with strength
(1). this is Caesar's strategy
(2). imagery of toils
(3). envisions death: "Where souls do couch on flowers, we'll hand in hand,/And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze/ Did and her Aeneas shall want troops/ And all the haunt be ours."
(a). Love and war both mixed with death--Eros, eros called again and again
(4). sees continuance in life as a dishonor; admires Cleo's courage to kill herself: "I am conqueror of myself" as shaming him; resolves to die, as a defeat of Caesar. Suicide is an act of war.
(a). envisions himself as Caesar's humiliated prize paraded in the streets [very doubtful prospect]
(b). difficulty of getting Eros to kill him
(c). as in JC: condition of being freed from slavery was agreement to kill "free" master if necessary
(d). Eros kills self; shows more courage than A.
(e). Tries to run on sword, like a bridegroom "to a lover's bed." Fails--"I have done my work ill, friends. O make an end/ Of what I have begun.
(1). his followers refuse and run to Caesar; betrayed again
(2). prolonged death agony; Diomede brings word that Cleo's still alive; that she did not "dispose" with Caesar; that she tried to protect herself with lie about her deth and then feared the consequence.
(a). confusion of life and death
(b). her stupid moves and reversals
(3). A. convinces him men to carry him off.
n. xv. The monument
i. more echoing of name of Antony.
ii. she too takes glory in not acceding to Caesar
iii. he wants her to come down; she draws him up with great effort; dramatic business
iv. liebestod kissing
(1). I am dying Egypt, dying
Give me some wine and let me speak a little.
(2). both attempt to triumph over fortune and death with depth of momentary feeling
(3). he dies, she swoons
(a). the crown o th earth doth melt. My lord/ O withered is the garland of the war/ The solider's pole is fall'n
(b). they don't know if she's alive or dead
(c). she awakens only to rant on suicide and death
5. Act V
a. i. Caesar's camp
i. Decretas brings A's sword to Caesar and defects
(1). I wore my life to spend upon his haters
(2). Caesar's tribute to his name and observation that his passing was unnoticed; he weeps
(3). news of A's death is premature
(4). more commentary: "his taints and honors waged equal with him."
ii. Caesar's mourning: experiences self division; tribute to his long friendship with A.
(1). interrupted by news of Cleo in monument awaiting orders
(2). sends false assurance she'll be treated well, but plans to parade her in triumph
(3). returns to speech justifying his behavior w. Ant.
b. ii. the monument
i. Cl. contemplating suicide--its power over Fortune which has power over Caesar: "It is great to do that thing that ends all other deeds/ Which shackles accidents and bolts up change"
ii. Begs or demands her kingdom from Caesar in response to Proculeius' courteous lies; his soldiers sieze her off guard
(1). Effective dramatic shock and tone change--betrayal
(2). She draws dagger, but is disarmed; defiantly and eloquently insists she wont go to rome but will die in Egypt
(3). *She, captived, victim, rises to grandeur, in speech about dream of Antony as the universe or God
(a). asks Dolabella if he believes dream
(b). says it must be more real than dream since something so great couldn't just be imagined
(1). a version of the ontological argument; raises issue of subject and object, existence of god, power of imagination
(c). Dol. tells her truth of C's plan
(4). Caesar enters
(a). Lies to her; she falsely kneels to him, and confesses her sins as those of all women; he threatens to kill her children if she kills herself.
(b). She gives Caesar list of all her goods; asks Seleucus to vouch, but he exposes it as lie
(1). She physically attacks slave as untrustworthy: O slave of no more trust/than love that's hired"
(a). ironies--she's a prostitute herself; he's a slave
(b). theme of love that's hired
(2). offers excuse that she was reserving treasure as gift for Octavia and grand self-pity
(c). Caesar again condescendingly forgives her; she says he's master; trying to seduce him
(d). "He words me, girls, he words me..."; Dolabella again reveals C's plan, betraying his master, as Seleucus betrayed his
(e). C's vision of being displayed in Rome to rank breaths of the commons, opposite to but similar to the spectacle she made in Alexandria
(1). envisions comedy depicting her and A's revels: "and I shall see/some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness/I' th' posture of a whore."219
(f). She dresses up; clown brings her figs
(1). clown's speech: joy of worm, mixing death with healing and full of dishonesty and obfuscation; devils mar five out of ten women that are dishes for the gods
(2). gets into fancy clothes and greets Antony eloquently; kisses maids and Iras falls dead
(a). the stroke of death is as a lover's pinch/which hurts and is desired
(g). stages great tragic ending, contrasted to comedy of Caesar...Liebestod
(1). must precede Iras or A. will kiss her first
(2). speaks lovingly to snake: My baby at my breast/that sucks the nurse asleep
(3). As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle--O, Antony, Nay, I will take thee too...
(h). Charmian also applies asp as guard comes in
(i). Dolabella tricks Caesar; they discover "aspic's trail
(j). Caesar places his order on it all: "Come Doalbella see/High order in this great solemnity."