Cleopatra and her servants are looking for Antony. She sends Alexas to find Antony and tells her that if he seems sad she should say that Cleopatra is happy, and that if he seems happy, she should say Cleopatra is sad. Charmian cautions Cleopatra that she is not going about things the right way with Antony, and should “cross him in nothing,” in order to elicit his love.
Cleopatra is manipulative toward Antony, lying about her emotions in order to irritate him, because she is upset with him. She is far from the submissive woman that Charmian has in mind when she suggests that Cleopatra should “cross him in nothing.”
Antony enters and begins to speak to Cleopatra, who is greatly upset. Hardly allowing him to speak, she says she has been betrayed and wishes Antony had never come to Egypt. She asks how he could be true to her, when he was false to Fulvia. Antony tries to talk, but Cleopatra simply tells him to go. She says, “eternity was in our lips and eyes, / Bliss in our brows’ bent,” but now says that Antony has turned from the greatest soldier into the greatest liar.
Cleopatra feels betrayed by Antony, though by staying with Cleopatra he would himself be betraying Rome. Cleopatra is so angry that she doesn’t allow Antony to speak and deliver his message. Characters allied with Antony and Cleopatra repeatedly let their emotions get in the way of hearing important news or messages.
Antony says that he has to go to Rome because of civil strife, but that his heart remains with Cleopatra. He tells her of Fulvia’s death, and Cleopatra is shocked at how calm he seems. She says that now she knows how he will react when she dies. Antony tells her to “quarrel no more,” and says that he goes forth as Cleopatra’s soldier and servant, “making peace or war / As thou affects.”
Antony tries to explain to Cleopatra the conflict he faces between his love for her and his duty toward Rome. He describes himself as Cleopatra’s soldier and servant, placing her in the position of leader and thereby reversing the traditional power dynamic of man and woman.
Cleopatra still doubts Antony’s love for her and teases him, but allows him to leave and wishes him success and victory. Antony says that the distance between Cleopatra and him will not affect their relationship.
Cleopatra seems irrational here, and refuses to believe Antony, even as he continues to assert his love for her.