At Rome, Octavius complains to Lepidus about Antony, who he says drinks and wastes time “in revel.” He says that Antony is as womanly as Cleopatra and Cleopatra is as manly as Antony. Lepidus defends Antony, saying that his faults are like “the spots of heaven,” not significant enough to affect his overall goodness.
Octavius is fed up with Antony’s decadent lifestyle, and he sees Antony’s relationship with the powerful (and therefore masculine) Cleopatra as effeminizing him.
Octavius, though, is still upset with Antony for indulging in all sorts of merriment while he himself must deal with the difficult situation at Rome. A messenger arrives and tells Octavius that Pompey is “strong at sea,” and gaining support from those who are afraid of Octavius. Another messenger enters and tells Octavius that pirates are gaining strength on the sea.
Octavius sees Antony’s indulgence in a pleasurable lifestyle in Egypt as a kind of betrayal of their alliance, as Octavius has been forced to deal with all of the political difficulties at Rome, while Pompey strives to gain power. The messenger delivers Octavius important news for his military strategizing.
Octavius wishes Antony would return, and remembers how strong and rugged Antony used to be as a soldier. He hopes that Antony’s shame will drive him to come to Rome. Octavius and Lepidus part, agreeing to meet the next day to discuss strategy regarding Pompey.
In Octavius’ mind, Antony was a strong, traditionally masculine general before his relationship with Cleopatra, who has weakened him with the decadence characteristic of both women and Egypt. Octavius and Lepidus must now plan how to deal strategically with Pompey.