Antony and Cleopatra

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Enobarbus Character Analysis

One of Antony’s advisors and followers, who, over the course of the play, begins to doubt Antony. He finally decides that his own survival is more important than loyalty to Antony, and deserts him for Octavius. He quickly regrets this decision, though, and returns to Antony to repent and then dies.

Enobarbus Quotes in Antony and Cleopatra

The Antony and Cleopatra quotes below are all either spoken by Enobarbus or refer to Enobarbus. 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 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. 

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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 13 Quotes

Mine honesty and I begin to square.
The loyalty well held to fools does make
Our faith mere folly: yet he that can endure
To follow with allegiance a fall'n lord
Does conquer him that did his master conquer
And earns a place i' the story.

Related Characters: Enobarbus (speaker), Mark Antony
Page Number: 3.13.48-53
Explanation and Analysis:

As Antony and Cleopatra continue to make terrible strategic decisions, the unthinkable begins to happen: the utterly loyal Enobarbus begins to question whether or not he should betray Antony. He feels himself at odds with his "honesty," and does not wish to be made a fool out of his own "faith." At the same time, however, Enobarbus wishes to be remembered for his honesty, and worries about what place he will earn in the "story" of these events.

That Enobarbus would ever consider betraying Antony makes clear the terrible situation that the Roman general and the Egyptian queen have created around themselves. They have made Enobarbus feel foolish for following them, and have ignored his good judgment in favor of their own arrogant and ill-advised decisions.

This statement also illuminates Enobarbus's--and the play's--understanding that all of these characters are living through a time of momentous history. Although they are human beings with human wants and desires, they are also kings, queens, and generals, whose decisions have huge consequences on the "story" of the world and the characters around them. 

Act 4, Scene 5 Quotes

Soldier:
One ever near thee: call for Enobarbus,
He shall not hear thee; or from Caesar’s camp
Say ‘I am none of thine.’

Antony:
What say’st thou?

Soldier:
Sir, he is with Caesar.

Eros:
Sir, his chests and treasure
He has not with him.

Antony:
Is he gone?

Soldier:
Most certain.

Antony:
Go, Eros, send his treasure after; do it;
Detain no jot, I charge thee: write to him—
I will subscribe—gentle adieus and greetings;
Say that I wish he never find more cause
To change a master. O, my fortunes have
Corrupted honest men! Dispatch.—Enobarbus!

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Eros (speaker), Octavius Caesar, Enobarbus
Page Number: 4.5.10-25
Explanation and Analysis:

At the eleventh hour, as Antony once again prepares to fight, he learns that Enobarbus has indeed left him, and has defected to Caesar's camp. When Antony hears the news, he immediately tells his servant to send Enobarbus's belongings and wealth along with him, and to also give his former friend "gentle adieus and greetings." Last, he laments that "his fortunes/ Have corrupted honest men."

This passage reveals two crucial characteristics of Antony: his genuine generosity of spirit, and his passionate self-loathing. On one hand, Antony clearly hates himself, believing that his terrible judgment and ill-advised choices have "corrupted" even Enobarbus, the most "honest" and loyal of men. He does not blame Enobarbus for betraying him, because he knows just how much "cause" there was for his soldier to do so.

At the same time, Antony is still an intensely good and loyal man. Despite having been betrayed by Enobarbus, he still loves his one-time ally, and wishes him only the best. In this dark hour and faced with this huge betrayal, Antony's honesty and love come across as particularly poignant and tragic. 

Act 4, Scene 6 Quotes

I am alone the villain of the earth,
And feel I am so most. O Antony,
Thou mine of bounty, how wouldst thou have paid
My better service, when my turpitude
Thou dost so crown with gold! This blows my heart:
If swift thought break it not, a swifter mean
Shall outstrike thought: but thought will do't, I feel.
I fight against thee! No: I will go seek
Some ditch wherein to die; the foul'st best fits
My latter part of life.

Related Characters: Enobarbus (speaker), Mark Antony
Page Number: 4.6.34-44
Explanation and Analysis:

Enobarbus emerges, having just received both his chests and good wishes from Antony. In agony, he calls himself "the villain of the earth," now remembering Antony as the most generous and loyal master who ever lived. So anguished is Enobarbus that he wishes for his heart to literally break. Realizing that he can never fight against Antony, he resolves to "die" in a "ditch," because he nowdeserves such a foul and dishonorable death.

Antony and Cleopatra's misfortune has spread outward, infecting all who were once loyal to them. Despite making a perfectly rational and even justified choice, Enobarbus is now unable to live with himself, having lost his own identity as a loyal soldier and faithful friend. He has gone from rational and detached to a tragic figure in his own right, unable to deal with the dishonorable action that he has taken. In short, his love for Antony has destroyed him--just as Antony's love for Cleopatra will soon destroy him

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Enobarbus Character Timeline in Antony and Cleopatra

The timeline below shows where the character Enobarbus appears in Antony and Cleopatra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
Three of Cleopatra’s servants, Charmian, Alexas, and Iras, consult a soothsayer. Enobarbus, an advisor to Antony tells them to bring wine for Cleopatra. The soothsayer begins to... (full context)
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
...was happy, but suddenly thought of Rome and was in a bad mood. She asks Enobarbus to go find Antony, but just then he enters. Annoyed with him, Cleopatra leaves and... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
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Enobarbus enters and Antony tells him that he wants to leave Egypt. Enobarbus says this will... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
In Rome, Lepidus tells Enobarbus to try to get Antony to speak kindly to Octavius. Enobarbus says Antony will do... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
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Enobarbus agrees, noting that they can take up their dispute again once Pompey is dealt with.... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
...to see Octavia, to conclude the business of the marriage. Lepidus leaves with them. Maecenas, Enobarbus, and Agrippa are glad that Octavius and Antony appear to have resolved their dispute. Enobarbus... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Enobarbus tells Agrippa and Maecenas about Cleopatra, who has a huge barge “like a burnished throne,”... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Enobarbus says that when Antony first saw Cleopatra, he invited her to dinner. She declined, though,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
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Pompey invites everyone aboard his boat, and everyone but Enobarbus and Menas leaves. The two men compliment each other on their military service, one for... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Menas says that this marriage will unite Octavius and Antony, but Enobarbus says he is not so sure. He thinks Antony will choose Cleopatra over Octavia, and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 7
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
The feast continues, and everyone drinks raucously. A servant carries a drunk Lepidus away. Enobarbus suggests that they dance “the Egyptian bacchanals,” and everyone starts dancing as music plays. Octavius... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
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At Octavius’ home in Rome, Enobarbus and Agrippa are discussing Octavia, who is sad to leave Rome and her brother. They... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Octavia cries at having to leave her brother. She whispers something in his ear, and Enobarbus and Agrippa debate whether Octavius will cry. Enobarbus opines that it would be bad for... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
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Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
In another room of Antony’s house, one of his followers named Eros tells Enobarbus that Octavius and Lepidus have defeated Pompey, but that then Octavius did not let Lepidus... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Near the town of Actium, Cleopatra tells Enobarbus that she will go into battle with Antony. Enobarbus says to himself that one should... (full context)
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
...Canidius. He says that he will fight Octavius at sea, against the advice of Canidius. Enobarbus warns Antony, “your ships are not well mann’d,” and advises him to fight on land.... (full context)
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
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...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. He says... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 10
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
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...direction, and Taurus leads Octavius’ in another. Octavius’ and Antony’s navies fight a sea battle. Enobarbus cries out that Antony is fleeing the fight. An Egyptian named Scarus says, “we have... (full context)
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
...followed his example and fled. He says that he will go surrender himself to Octavius. Enobarbus says that he will keep supporting Antony, even though his better judgment advises him against... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 13
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
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Back at Cleopatra’s palace, she asks Enobarbus what they should do, and whether she or Antony is at fault for what has... (full context)
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
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Enobarbus says that there is no way Octavius will discard all of his advantages and enter... (full context)
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...only “fear’d him,” and thus is willing to forgive her. Cleopatra agrees with Thidias, and Enobarbus leaves, thinking that even Cleopatra is deserting Antony now. Cleopatra tells Thidias that she is... (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... (full context)
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Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...to drink and enjoy himself tonight, before preparing again for battle against Octavius. Everyone but Enobarbus leaves. Enobarbus reflects that Antony is being unreasonable, like a little dove trying to “peck... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
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At Cleopatra’s palace, Enobarbus tells Antony that Octavius will not agree to fight with him alone. Antony resolves to... (full context)
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...of drinking. He tells them they may serve another master by the end of tomorrow. Enobarbus says that Antony is making his men almost cry to think of Antony’s death, and... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
At Antony’s military camp, a soldier informs him that Enobarbus has deserted him for Octavius, but has left his “chests and treasure” behind. Antony orders... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
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Enobarbus reflects on his recent change of loyalties, and notes that those who have left Antony... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 9
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Two soldiers are keeping guard at Octavius’ camp, when Enobarbus enters, repenting for having deserted Antony. He says that he hopes to die, and begs... (full context)