Antony and Cleopatra

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The queen of Egypt, Cleopatra is a powerful woman who wears her sexuality on her sleeve. She can be impetuous and capricious, jumping from one emotion to another (especially early in the play), and often manipulates Antony by calling his love into question or pretending to be dead, for example. Nonetheless, Cleopatra is brave, and, especially later in the play, is presented in a noble, tragic light. After the death of Antony, she faces her death with strong resolve, and chooses to determine her own fate rather than suffering the humiliation of being Octavius’ servant, slave, or prisoner.

Cleopatra Quotes in Antony and Cleopatra

The Antony and Cleopatra quotes below are all either spoken by Cleopatra or refer to Cleopatra. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Antony and Cleopatra published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Nay, but this dotage of our general's
O'erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes,
That o'er the files and musters of the war
Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn,
The office and devotion of their view
Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart,
Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst
The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper,
And is become the bellows and the fan
To cool a gipsy's lust.

Related Characters: Philo (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra
Page Number: 1.1.1-10
Explanation and Analysis:

Two soldiers gossip about Mark Antony's overpowering love for Cleopatra, noting how he has turned away from war and honor, and now seeks only to satisfy his queen. They also demean Cleopatra in distinctly racist and sexist terms, calling her a "tawny" "gipsy" and referring to her "lust," while bemoaning the fact that Antony used to be godlike, yet now has become a slave to passion and a foreign woman.

From the first moments of the play, it becomes clear how the general Roman public views the union of Antony and Cleopatra; they think it a disgrace, disdaining Antony for having turned his back on Rome, and despising Cleopatra for having seduced him. 

From these words, it is immediately clear just how much power Cleopatra has over Mark Antony. Although he is known as a great warrior and powerful general, he has now abandoned his "office" in favor of cavorting with Cleopatra. The soldiers' former reverence for Antony makes their current contempt for him all the more striking and dramatic. 

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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Or lose myself in dotage.

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra
Page Number: 1.2.128-129
Explanation and Analysis:

Having heard a great deal of bad news from Rome, Mark Antony realizes that he must leave Cleopatra in order to attend to his duties and affairs. He refers to his bond with her as "fetters," as if he is his lover's slave or prisoner, and worries that he will "lose" himself if he stays longer.

This comment shows that Mark Antony understands a great deal more about his situation than he initially lets on. First of all, he is fully aware of how much control he has given Cleopatra within their relationship. He is wholly under her influence, but is also aware of that fact. Second, Antony is aware that he is jeopardizing his very identity as a Roman leader and patriot by remaining in Egypt. The longer he neglects his duties, the more his reputation and his place in the world are at risk. 

This quote perfectly sets up the conflict between love and duty that will torture and finally destroy Antony throughout the play. 

Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

See where he is, who's with him, what he does:
I did not send you: if you find him sad,
Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report
That I am sudden sick: quick, and return.

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Mark Antony
Page Number: 1.3.3-6
Explanation and Analysis:

Unable to find Antony, Cleopatra orders her servants to seek him out, and to fool him when they find him by lying about her own emotional condition.

As is so often the case with Cleopatra, this command is a highly complex one. On one hand, Cleopatra is clearly manipulating Antony, controlling his every move and emotion in order to keep him under her influence. On the other hand, Cleopatra's words are also those of an obsessive lover who feels neglected and jealous.

This mixture of love and strategy sits at the heart of Cleopatra's character. She thinks of the two as interchangeable, and it is often impossible for her (or her audience) to determine which is which. As a female leader in a man's world, she has learned to use every tactic at her disposal in order to retain her power and autonomy. 

Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
The lamps of night in revel; is not more man-like
Than Cleopatra; nor the queen of Ptolemy
More womanly than he; hardly gave audience, or
Vouchsafed to think he had partners: you shall find there
A man who is the abstract of all faults
That all men follow.

Related Characters: Octavius Caesar (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra
Page Number: 1.4.4-11
Explanation and Analysis:

Back in Rome, Octavius Caesar is furious about Antony's neglect of his duties as a leader. He mocks the older man, noting his "revel[s]" and stating that he acts the woman while Cleopatra plays the part of a man. In short, he believes that Antony has forsaken his partners in Rome, and has given himself over completely to passion and "fault[s]."

Of all Caesar's charges, the implication that Cleopatra has unmanned Antony is by far the most interesting and serious. The world of Rome (and of Elizabethan England, when the play was written and performed) was one of strict gender roles, where men led and women followed. In Antony and Cleopatra's case, however, the positions seem to have reversed, with Cleopatra taking the dominant role in the relationship. 

For many of the characters in the play, this fact alone displays the unhealthiness and immorality of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra. Rather than seeing Cleopatra as simply a stronger personality, they believe her to be an emasculating witch; and rather than attempt to understand Antony's love for his queen, they condemn him as a foolish weakling. 

Act 1, Scene 5 Quotes

O Charmian,
Where think'st thou he is now? Stands he, or sits he?
Or does he walk? or is he on his horse?
O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Mark Antony, Charmian
Page Number: 1.5.22-25
Explanation and Analysis:

With Mark Antony having departed for Rome, Cleopatra longs for him, asking a series of questions about his whereabouts, and wishing to change places with his horse. Like several other passages in the play, this scene helps the audience to understand that Cleopatra does truly love Antony, albeit in a highly obsessive and controlling way. 

Her questions also point to Cleopatra's demanding and inquisitive nature. Although passionate and occasionally irrational, Cleopatra is also highly intelligent. She seeks to know about everything around her, even (in this case) minute details about Antony that the messenger cannot possibly know. 

Cleopatra's comic double entendre at the end of the passage (she wishes to "bear the weight of Antony," like his horse) also points to the character's honest relationship with her own sexuality, and to her own wit. Unlike the repressed Romans, Cleopatra is comfortable with the idea of passion and sexual appetite. At the same time, she also knows how overwhelming her desire for Antony is, and so gently mocks herself by comparing herself to a horse. 

Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description: she did lie
In her pavilion--cloth-of-gold of tissue—
O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.

Related Characters: Enobarbus (speaker), Cleopatra
Page Number: 2.2.227-242
Explanation and Analysis:

Until this moment in time, Enobarbus has been highly critical of Cleopatra, rightly believing her to be distracting and detrimental to Antony, to whom he is incredibly loyal. When asked to recount how Antony met Cleopatra, however, Enobarbus reveals that while he might be a soldier, he has the soul of a poet. He narrates Cleopatra's grand entrance, describing how she sailed down the Nile in a golden barge with purple sails, looking like "Venus," and was so beautiful that the elements themselves seemed to smile on her. 

In this moment, we as audience members/readers fully understand why Antony is so entranced by Cleopatra. So beautiful and captivating is she that even a plainspoken man like Enobarbus is moved to poetry when he speaks about her. And so gorgeous is that poetry that even we, hearing this secondhand account, become completely swept up in its beauty and lyricism.

It is important to remember, though, that this passage also displays Cleopatra's tactics and her cunning. She has made this trip specifically to seduce Antony, whom she believes will protect Egypt and keep her own power secure. Using a combination of theatricality and her own beauty, she has combined romance and politics for her own benefit. 

Upon her landing, Antony sent to her,
Invited her to supper: she replied,
It should be better he became her guest;
Which she entreated: our courteous Antony,
Whom ne'er the word of 'No' woman heard speak,
Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast,
And for his ordinary pays his heart
For what his eyes eat only.

Related Characters: Enobarbus (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra
Page Number: 2.2.258-265
Explanation and Analysis:

Enobarbus goes on, remembering how Antony "[i]nvited [Cleopatra] to supper" as his guest, only for the queen to reply that he should be her guest instead. Although this may seem like a minor quibble, in Enobarbus's retelling, it is the critical moment in which Cleopatra gains power over Antony. The reason? He has never before heard a woman say "No" to his requests. 

This exchange sheds even more light on why Antony has fallen so deeply in love with Cleopatra. A dominant, powerful, and handsome man, he is used to everyone--especially women--giving him exactly what he wants. In Cleopatra, however, he has found someone who will actually refuse him; a nearly unthinkable concept for the Roman general. In reversing gender roles--making Antony the submissive partner in the relationship and herself the dominant force--Cleopatra essentially wins his heart. Their love is therefore subversive not only in terms of politics, but also in terms of gender and societal expectations. 

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies.

Related Characters: Enobarbus (speaker), Cleopatra
Page Number: 2.2.276-280
Explanation and Analysis:

Enobarbus finishes his story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony with a stunning assessment of the queen: he asserts that she will never "wither," no matter how old, and that no man will ever grow weary of her, due to her "infinite variety." She has a paradoxical power, he concludes. Unlike "other women," who make men become sick of them, she makes men hunger for her even more as she simultaneously "satisfies" their desires.

From this passage, it is clear that Cleopatra has also entranced the skeptical Enobarbus, however unwilling he may be to admit it. His words also get to the heart of Cleopatra's power. By appearing unpredictable and passionate, she has ensured that men will always be fascinated by her. Further, by bestowing passion and pain in equal measure, she has created a system in which men like Antony constantly seek to possess her, even in the midst of a relationship with her, and while acknowledging that the impossibility of ever "possessing" her is a large part of her allure. 

Act 3, Scene 6 Quotes

Octavia:
Where is he now?

Octavia:
My lord, in Athens.

Octavius:
No, my most wronged sister; Cleopatra
Hath nodded him to her. He hath given his empire
Up to a whore; who now are levying
The kings o’ the earth for war.

Related Characters: Octavius Caesar (speaker), Octavia (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra
Page Number: 3.6.73-78
Explanation and Analysis:

Octavia arrives at her brother's house, believing that she can make peace between him and Mark Antony. She does not realize, however, that Antony has now returned to Cleopatra--a fact that gives her brother an excuse to go to war with Antony.

This passage reveals the true hypocrisy of Octavius Caesar. In the past, he has condemned both Antony and Cleopatra for mixing personal feelings with politics, saying that it makes them untrustworthy and immoral. In this scene, however, he is all too happy to use his sister's feelings of pain and dishonor to excuse his making war on his supposed ally and brother-in-law. 

In fact, Octavius even goes so far as to blame the coming war on Cleopatra--whom he calls a "whore"--saying that she and Antony are stirring up the "kings o' the earth for war." Yet the audience knows the truth: the calculating Octavius wants to stop sharing power with Antony, and has manipulated the situation such that he can justifiably go to war against his former friend.

Act 3, Scene 10 Quotes

She once being loof'd,
The noble ruin of her magic, Antony,
Claps on his sea-wing, and, like a doting mallard,
Leaving the fight in height, flies after her:
I never saw an action of such shame;
Experience, manhood, honour, ne'er before
Did violate so itself.

Related Characters: Scarus (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra
Page Number: 3.10.22-28
Explanation and Analysis:

Antony and Cleopatra have gone to war against Octavius, culminating in the sea battle of Actium; yet at a crucial moment, Cleopatra has fled with her fleet, and Antony has followed her, leading to a huge defeat. One of Antony's soldiers comments on the chain of events, calling Antony a "mallard" (a duck) and asserting, "I never saw an action of such shame." He believes that Antony has destroyed his own "[e]xperience, manhood, [and] honour."

This assessment makes clear the potentially ruinous effects of Antony and Cleopatra's relationship. Although Antony is a seasoned soldier, he has thrown away the battle in order to follow his lover. It makes sense that a Roman soldier like Scarus would view this decision as the height of dishonor and unmanliness. Even the audience members understand just how poor a judgment this was on Antony's part, and how unwisely Cleopatra has used her power over him. 

Act 3, Scene 11 Quotes

O, whither hast thou led me, Egypt? See,
How I convey my shame out of thine eyes
By looking back what I have left behind
'Stroy'd in dishonour.

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Cleopatra
Page Number: 3.11.53-56
Explanation and Analysis:

Horrified that he has retreated from his own battle, Mark Antony now questions his own actions. He realizes that he has unwisely followed where Cleopatra led, asking where where she has led him, looking back at the men he has left behind and the lives he has destroyed with his own dishonor.

After his spur-of-the-moment decision, Antony now fully realizes what a terrible mistake he has made. He has not only lost the battle, but has also betrayed the soldiers who were loyal to him. He begs Cleopatra to tell him why she has caused this ruinous turn of events, and insults himself as shameful and dishonorable. In short, Antony believes that he has lost his manhood and his honorable identity by giving Cleopatra too much power over his decisions and his actions. 

Act 3, Scene 12 Quotes

From Antony win Cleopatra: promise,
And in our name, what she requires; add more,
From thine invention, offers: women are not
In their best fortunes strong; but want will perjure
The ne’er touch’d vestal: try thy cunning, Thidias;
Make thine own edict for thy pains, which we
Will answer as a law.

Related Characters: Octavius Caesar (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra, Ambassador
Page Number: 3.12.33-39
Explanation and Analysis:

In a strategically advantageous position, Octavius Caesar now schemes to drive a wedge between Cleopatra and Mark Antony. He sends one of his men, Thidias, to "win" Cleopatra from Antony, ordering Thidias to "promise" Cleopatra whatever she wants. Octavius goes on to display his contempt for women, asserting that even the most virtuous woman will betray and lie if she is truly desperate (or is offered something especially appealing). 

Octavius's orders make clear his cunning and shifty nature. Antony, by contrast, is a sincere and deeply loyal man. Octavius, though, attempts to exploit others' weaknesses, and believes the worst about human nature.

His statement about women also brings up a crucial plot point: Octavius's constant underestimation of Cleopatra. As we will see as the play continues, Octavius's sexism and arrogance consistently make him think that he has the upper hand over the intelligent and crafty queen. The gravity of his mistake will become fully apparent by the end of the play, even when he is technically "victorious" over her. 

Act 3, Scene 13 Quotes

Most kind messenger,
Say to great Caesar this: in deputation
I kiss his conquering hand: tell him, I am prompt
To lay my crown at ’s feet, and there to kneel:
Tell him from his all-obeying breath I hear
The doom of Egypt.

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Octavius Caesar
Page Number: 3.13.90-95
Explanation and Analysis:

The deceitful and flattering Thidias comes to Cleopatra, promising her Octavius's favor if she betrays Antony. Cleopatra replies that she acknowledges Caesar as her conqueror, and that she will place her "crown" at his "feet" in order to avert the "doom of Egypt."

This statement is a complicated and troubling one from Cleopatra. On one hand, she is very close to betraying Antony--a terrible action from a woman who claims to be deeply in love with the man who has thrown away his life for her.

On the other hand, Cleopatra must think not only about herself, but also about her country. Despite her love for Antony, her duty to Egypt comes first, and she is prepare to do whatever it takes to protect it from the conquering Octavius. 

On the surface, this passage makes it seem like Cleopatra is faithless and calculating. After further reflection, however, it is clear that she is in an impossible position, caught between her love for Antony and her love for her country, and is attempting to make the choice that will benefit her people rather than herself. 

Antony:
To flatter Caesar, would you mingle eyes
With one that ties his points?

Cleopatra:
Not know me yet?

Antony:
Cold-hearted toward me?

Cleopatra:
Ah, dear, if I be so,
From my cold heart let heaven engender hail,
And poison it in the source; and the first stone
Drop in my neck: as it determines, so
Dissolve my life! The next Caesarion smite!
Till by degrees the memory of my womb,
Together with my brave Egyptians all,
By the discandying of this pelleted storm,
Lie graveless, till the flies and gnats of Nile
Have buried them for prey!

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Cleopatra (speaker), Octavius Caesar
Page Number: 3.13.191-204
Explanation and Analysis:

A furious Antony comes upon Cleopatra with Thidias; Antony beats the other man, threatens him, and throws him out, before furiously turning on Cleopatra. After he demands to know if she will leave him for Caesar, Cleopatra assures him that she never will. If she ever does, she asks for the gods to kill both herself and her children, and for all of Egypt to fall. 

Once again, this is a difficult exchange to correctly interpret. Cleopatra may well be manipulating Antony, telling him what he wants to hear in order to keep him from abandoning or even killing her. On the other hand, it seems hard to believe that she does not love him, so passionate, gorgeous, and dramatic are the words of her response. 

This passage again makes clear the melding of personal and political that constantly takes place within Cleopatra's world. At this moment in time, she must keep her lover from leaving her, and does so with amazing skill; at the same time, though, it is entirely possible that she means every word she says, and is using her honest emotion in order to fuel her tactical move. 

Act 4, Scene 15 Quotes

Antony:
Not Caesar’s valour hath o’erthrown Antony,
But Antony’s hath triumph’d on itself.

Cleopatra:
So it should be, that none but Antony
Should conquer Antony; but woe ’tis so!

Antony:
I am dying, Egypt, dying; only
I here importune death awhile, until
Of many thousand kisses the poor last
I lay up thy lips.

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Cleopatra (speaker), Octavius Caesar
Page Number: 4.15.18-25
Explanation and Analysis:

Believing Cleopatra to be dead, Antony has killed himself. In fact, however, she is still alive, and the two reunite in her tomb as he takes his last breaths. Antony is glad that at least he has killed himself, rather than Caesar doing so, and Cleopatra agrees. Calling his lover "Egypt," Antony says that he will delay death until he can kiss Cleopatra one last time--the final kiss out of "many thousand kisses."

Literally, Antony has "conquer[ed]" himself, since he has killed himself with his own sword. Metaphorically, however, the statement still remains true: Antony has defeated himself with his own pride, ill-judgment, and passion. At every turn, he has done what he wants rather than what is wise. He has been honest instead of cunning, and emotional rather than logical. Now, he is paying the price. 

After all of their squabbling and betrayals, Antony and Cleopatra at last agree, united by tragedy. Antony's words to Cleopatra contain no bitterness, but only heartbreak, as he strives to kiss her one more time before death. 

Antony:
One word, sweet queen:
Of Caesar seek your honour, with your safety. O!

Cleopatra:
They do not go together.

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Cleopatra (speaker)
Page Number: 4.15.53-55
Explanation and Analysis:

Even in his final moments, Antony has an exchange with Cleopatra that illustrates the radical differences between their worldviews. The honest and idealistic Antony believes that Octavius will give Cleopatra "safety" while also allowing her to retain her "honour." Cleopatra, however, knows that this is not true. If she yields to Caesar and bets for safety, he will not allow her to keep her honor; and if she chooses honor, it will only be retained through her death.

As is always the case, Antony has shown himself to be deeply honorable, but also innocent in the harsher ways of the world. The cunning Cleopatra has a much more clear-eyed view of the reality of the situation, and knows that she will soon be forced to choose between her honor and her life. 

Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

Come hither, Proculeius. Go and say,
We purpose her no shame: give her what comforts
The quality of her passion shall require,
Lest, in her greatness, by some mortal stroke
She do defeat us; for her life in Rome
Would be eternal in our triumph: go,
And with your speediest bring us what she says,
And how you find of her.

Related Characters: Octavius Caesar (speaker), Cleopatra, Proculeius
Page Number: 5.1.72-79
Explanation and Analysis:

The triumphant Caesar instructs one of his men on how to greet Cleopatra. Wishing to parade his triumph over the queen in front of the Roman people, he is worried that she will thwart him by committing suicide. As such, he tells his messenger to say whatever it will take to soothe Cleopatra, reminding him that bringing Cleopatra back to Rome would make his victory "eternal." 

In this passage, Caesar is both cunning and mistaken. He has no strong relationship to truth, and is willing to do whatever it takes to ultimately humiliate Cleopatra in front of the Roman populace (thus reinforcing his own victory and mastery). At the same time, however, he believes that Cleopatra is weaker and less intelligent than he is. In truth, the queen is fully aware of what he intends to do, and cannot be swayed from her ultimate course--committing suicide. In believing that he can deceive her, Octavius is himself deceived. 

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir;
If idle talk will once be necessary,
I'll not sleep neither: this mortal house I'll ruin,
Do Caesar what he can. Know, sir, that I
Will not wait pinion'd at your master's court;
Nor once be chastised with the sober eye
Of dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up
And show me to the shouting varletry
Of censuring Rome? Rather a ditch in Egypt
Be gentle grave unto me! rather on Nilus' mud
Lay me stark naked, and let the water-flies
Blow me into abhorring! rather make
My country's high pyramides my gibbet,
And hang me up in chains!

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Octavius Caesar
Page Number: 5.2.59-72
Explanation and Analysis:

Cleopatra attempts to kill herself, but is foiled by Octavius's messenger. Thus kept from her goal, she vows not to eat, drink, or sleep until her "mortal house"--her body--is "ruin[ed]." Despite the Roman's attempts to fool her, Cleopatra knows that she will be imprisoned and humiliated in Rome. Rather than live with this dishonor, she instead wishes to die in "a ditch in Egypt," drown in the mud of the Nile, or be hanged from the top of a pyramid.

Having lost both her love and her country, Cleopatra has only one remaining desire: not to be dishonored. She knows, however, that the only way to do so is through death. This speech makes clear Cleopatra's resolve to die rather than be humiliated, and her terrible fear of what Octavius will do to her if she lives. While the Romans may still believe that they will prevail over Cleopatra's weak, womanly willpower, the audience knows all too well that the strong-willed Cleopatra will accomplish what she has set out to do. 

Sole sir o' the world,
I cannot project mine own cause so well
To make it clear; but do confess I have
Been laden with like frailties which before
Have often shamed our sex.

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Octavius Caesar
Page Number: 5.2.149-153
Explanation and Analysis:

Finally face-to-face with Octavius, Cleopatra kneels before him. In contrast with her formerly passionate speech, she is now subdued and humble. Instead, she hails Octavius as the conqueror of the world, and "confess[es]" that she is a frail woman who has made foolish mistakes.

As audience members and readers, we are aware of the falsity of Cleopatra's speech here. Determined to kill herself, she is brilliantly playing into Octavius's misguided perceptions of her. He is convinced that she is a weak and submissive woman, and so that is what she pretends to be. Just as she once manipulated Antony, she is now manipulating Octavius in a very different way, pretending to be something that she is not in order to achieve her ultimate aim. 

Now, Charmian!
Show me, my women, like a queen: go fetch
My best attires: I am again for Cydnus,
To meet Mark Antony: sirrah Iras, go.
Now, noble Charmian, we'll dispatch indeed;
And, when thou hast done this chare, I'll give thee leave
To play till doomsday. Bring our crown and all.

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Mark Antony, Charmian
Page Number: 5.2.276-282
Explanation and Analysis:

With Octavius gone, Cleopatra's manner now changes completely. She regally commands her women to bring her finest robes and crown, wishing to look just as she did the first time she met Mark Antony.

Of course, Cleopatra wishes to die in part because she does not want to live without Antony; also at play is her fear of humiliation in Rome. In this speech, however, we witness a third cause: her wish to be immortalized as a beautiful, powerful, and tragic queen. Like many other characters in the play, Cleopatra is fully aware of her place in history. She knows that she will be remembered, and wishes to control the narrative that others will one day tell about her. And indeed, she is the ultimate "star" of the play and the legend that surrounds it—Octavius is technically the victor, but he isn't even mentioned in the play's title.

Take up her bed;
And bear her women from the monument:
She shall be buried by her Antony:
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous. High events as these
Strike those that make them; and their story is
No less in pity than his glory which
Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
In solemn show attend this funeral;
And then to Rome. Come, Dolabella, see
High order in this great solemnity.

Related Characters: Octavius Caesar (speaker), Mark Antony, Cleopatra
Page Number: 5.2.427-437
Explanation and Analysis:

Discovering that Cleopatra is dead, Octavius reacts not with anger, but with respect honor. He orders his soldiers to bury the queen with "her Antony," reflecting that there will never be a "pair" as "famous" as them again. He concludes that he feels moved by these events, even though he caused them, and that he pities the couple. Lastly, he resolves that the whole army shall honor the two with a funeral.

Like Cleopatra and Antony, Octavius here displays that he, too, understands his place in history. Although a crafty and manipulative man, he still feels "pity" and admiration for his fallen foes, even though he has, in many respects, caused their deaths.

Although Antony and Cleopatra is tragic in that it ends with the deaths of its title characters, the two are not defeated in death. Instead, they are honored by their most bitter foe, and take their place in the history of the civilizations that they have both served for their entire lives. 

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Cleopatra Character Timeline in Antony and Cleopatra

The timeline below shows where the character Cleopatra appears in Antony and Cleopatra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
A Roman soldier named Philo tells his fellow soldier Demetrius that Antony’s love for Cleopatra “o’erflows the measure.” Formerly a strong general, he is now entirely devoted to his love... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
Cleopatra asks Antony how much he loves her, and he says it can’t be fathomed. A... (full context)
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Cleopatra wants Antony to hear the news from Rome, but he says he doesn’t want to... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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Three of Cleopatra’s servants, Charmian, Alexas, and Iras, consult a soothsayer. Enobarbus, an advisor to Antony tells them... (full context)
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...Egyptian gods for bad things to happen to the soothsayer. They get quiet, though, as Cleopatra enters, looking for Antony. She says that he was happy, but suddenly thought of Rome... (full context)
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...an enemy. He hints that all this has happened while Antony has been dallying with Cleopatra, and Antony tells him not to mince his words, but to criticize Cleopatra in the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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Cleopatra and her servants are looking for Antony. She sends Alexas to find Antony and tells... (full context)
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Antony enters and begins to speak to Cleopatra, who is greatly upset. Hardly allowing him to speak, she says she has been betrayed... (full context)
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...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.... (full context)
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Cleopatra still doubts Antony’s love for her and teases him, but allows him to leave and... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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...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... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
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Back in Egypt, Cleopatra asks Charmian to give her “mandragora,” a plant that will make her sleep until Antony... (full context)
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Cleopatra wonders where Antony is, and even envies his horse for getting to “bear the weight... (full context)
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Alexas delivers Antony’s message: Antony promises to conquer lands for Cleopatra and get “all the East,” under her command. Cleopatra asks how Antony was when Alexas... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...the charms of love.” He hopes Antony will stay in Egypt, under the control of Cleopatra’s beauty, lust, and witchcraft, as “Epicurean cooks / Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite.” But... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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Enobarbus tells Agrippa and Maecenas about Cleopatra, who has a huge barge “like a burnished throne,” made of gold with silver oars.... (full context)
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Enobarbus says that when Antony first saw Cleopatra, he invited her to dinner. She declined, though, and invited him to be her guest... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
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Back in Egypt, Cleopatra passes time with her attendants Charmian, Iras, and Alexas. She asks the eunuch Mardian to... (full context)
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A messenger arrives from Italy, and Cleopatra fears that Antony is dead. The messenger tries to speak, but Cleopatra says that he... (full context)
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The messenger is finally able to deliver his message: Antony has been married to Octavia. Cleopatra is furious, and beats the messenger. She tells him she will give him a province... (full context)
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Charmian tells Cleopatra that it is not the messenger’s fault, and she calls for him to return. Cleopatra... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
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...together. Pompey tells Antony about some rumors he has heard of Egypt, and alludes to Cleopatra’s relationship with Julius Caesar. (full context)
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...woman has a true face,” and that women “steal hearts.” Menas asks if Antony and Cleopatra are married, and Enobarbus says Antony is actually married to Octavia. (full context)
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...and Antony, but Enobarbus says he is not so sure. He thinks Antony will choose Cleopatra over Octavia, and this will upset Octavius. Menas and Enobarbus leave together to join the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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Back in Egypt, Cleopatra hears back from the messenger she sent to go see Octavia. The messenger reports on... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
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...house of Octavius, Octavius complains to Maecenas and Agrippa about Antony’s behavior: he has enthroned Cleopatra and himself in public on a platform of silver with golden chairs, and has declared... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
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Near the town of Actium, Cleopatra tells Enobarbus that she will go into battle with Antony. Enobarbus says to himself that... (full context)
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...to fighting and winning battles “standing on the earth.” Antony ignores him and leaves with Cleopatra and Enobarbus. The soldier tells Canidius Antony should not fight at sea, and Canidius agrees.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 10
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...He says that the battle was even, and no one was clearly winning, but then Cleopatra fled. Antony immediately turned and followed her. He remarks on how shameful and dishonorable Antony’s... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 11
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At Cleopatra’s palace in Alexandria, Antony is ashamed of having fled the battle of Actium. He tells... (full context)
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Eros tries to get Antony to listen to Cleopatra, and he exclaims, “O, whither hast thou led me, Egypt?” Cleopatra asks for his forgiveness... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 12
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...to live either in Egypt or as “a private man in Athens.” He says that Cleopatra admits to Octavius’ greatness and begs his mercy. (full context)
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Octavius says that he has “no ears” for Antony’s request, but will pardon Cleopatra if she will either kill Antony or drive him out of Egypt. He sends the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 13
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Back at Cleopatra’s palace, she asks Enobarbus what they should do, and whether she or Antony is at... (full context)
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Thidias tells Cleopatra that Octavius knows she did not really love Antony, but only “fear’d him,” and thus... (full context)
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Antony re-enters with Enobarbus and is furious to see Octavius’ man Thidias kissing Cleopatra’s hand. He calls in servants to take Thidias away and whip him, “till, like a... (full context)
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Antony reminds Cleopatra of how he found her, “a morsel cold upon / Dead Caesar’s trencher,” and continues... (full context)
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Antony asks Cleopatra if she would really leave him for Octavius, and Cleopatra tells him that she would... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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At Cleopatra’s palace, Enobarbus tells Antony that Octavius will not agree to fight with him alone. Antony... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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Several soldiers talk in Cleopatra’s palace, anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s battle. One of the soldiers says he thinks they will be... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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The next day, Antony prepares for battle, having Eros put on his armor. Cleopatra tries to help put on his armor, but puts some of it on incorrectly. Antony... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
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...soldiers and says that tomorrow they will “spill the blood / That has to-day escaped.” Cleopatra enters, and Antony tells her he has been victorious. He tells her of Scarus’ honorable... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 12
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...now “cast their caps up and carouse together / Like friends long lost.” He calls Cleopatra a “triple-turn’d whore,” thinking that she has betrayed him. Antony thinks he will die, and... (full context)
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Cleopatra enters and asks why Antony is so mad. Antony tells her to leave or else... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 13
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At her palace, Cleopatra complains to Charmian, Iras, and Mardian that Antony is mad. Charmian suggests that she go... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 14
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Antony blames his defeat on Cleopatra, who he thinks betrayed him to Octavius and didn’t truly love him. Mardian enters and... (full context)
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Diomedes, one of Cleopatra’s servants, enters and tells Antony that Cleopatra has sent him. He says that Cleopatra is... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 15
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At her tomb, Cleopatra tells Charmian she will never leave the place. Diomedes enters and tells her that Antony... (full context)
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Antony tells Cleopatra that he is dying, but that he wants to kiss her one last time. Cleopatra... (full context)
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Antony tells Cleopatra not to lament at his death, but to remember him as “the greatest prince o’... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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An Egyptian enters bearing a message from Cleopatra. He tells Octavius that Cleopatra wishes to know his intentions with her, “that she preparedly... (full context)
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Octavius tells his man Proculeius to go to Cleopatra and promise her comforts so that she does not commit suicide in her defeat. He... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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Back at her tomb, Cleopatra reasons that she will achieve a greater fate than Octavius, because he is at the... (full context)
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Proculeius tells Cleopatra not to worry, as she has “fall’n into a princely hand.” She says that she... (full context)
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Cleopatra tells Proculeius that she “will not wait pinion’d at your master’s court.” She says she... (full context)
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Dolabella pities Cleopatra, and admits to her that Octavius plans to lead her as a prisoner in his... (full context)
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Octavius tells Cleopatra that if she surrenders to him, she will “find a benefit in this change,” and... (full context)
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Cleopatra tells Octavius all she has held back are “some lady trifles,” which she plans to... (full context)
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Now alone with Charmian and Iras, Cleopatra says that Octavius is trying to persuade her to “not / Be noble to myself.”... (full context)
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Cleopatra sends Charmian and Iras to get her “best attires,” and her crown, as she wants... (full context)
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Cleopatra takes an asp and has it bite her breast. She calls it, “my baby at... (full context)
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Octavius enters and, seeing what has happened, calls Cleopatra “bravest at the last.” Octavius asks how Cleopatra died, and Dolabella and a guard notice... (full context)