Antony and Cleopatra

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
The sister of Octavius. After the death of his wife Fulvia, Antony marries Octavia. She does not seem to realize, though, that he has no intentions of leaving Cleopatra, and is only marrying her as part of a political scheme, an attempt to bring him and Octavius closer together. When Antony and Octavius start to feud, she finds herself torn between obedience to her brother and to her new husband. When she goes to Octavius in Rome, she learns that Antony has left her for Cleopatra, and so stays in Rome with her brother.

Octavia Quotes in Antony and Cleopatra

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

To hold you in perpetual amity,
To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
With an unslipping knot, take Antony
Octavia to his wife; whose beauty claims
No worse a husband than the best of men;
Whose virtue and whose general graces speak
That which none else can utter. By this marriage,
All little jealousies, which now seem great,
And all great fears, which now import their dangers,
Would then be nothing: truths would be tales,
Where now half tales be truths: her love to both
Would, each to other and all loves to both,
Draw after her.

Related Characters: Agrippa (speaker), Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar, Octavia
Page Number: 2.2.150-162
Explanation and Analysis:

As Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar passive aggressively trade barbs and jibes, Caesar's ally, Agrippa, suggests a solution: Antony should marry Caesar's sister, Octavia. He reminds Antony that Octavia is beautiful and virtuous, and urges both men to go ahead with the union, since it will bind the two of them together, and put to bed rumors of unrest and disunity. 

First and foremost, this suggestion shows how Roman women are considered objects in society rather than people. Octavia has no say in the matter; she is Octavius's to offer, and Antony's to accept. The Romans also place little importance on romantic love. Antony should not marry Octavia because she is lovable, but because it will be good for the Empire. Her virtue and beauty are added benefits, rather than reasons for affection.

In this dispassionate and manipulative world, it is easy to see why men like Octavius are so scared of and confused by Cleopatra. Although beautiful, she is certainly not traditionally "virtuous" and meek like Octavia. Ruled by her passions, her thirst for power, and her love of her country, she refuses to be objectified, instead making herself a player in the political sphere by whatever means necessary. 


Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Antony and Cleopatra quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

A more unhappy lady,
If this division chance, ne'er stood between,
Praying for both parts:
The good gods me presently,
When I shall pray, 'O bless my lord and husband!'
Undo that prayer, by crying out as loud,
'O, bless my brother!' Husband win, win brother,
Prays, and destroys the prayer; no midway
'Twixt these extremes at all.

Related Characters: Octavia (speaker), Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar
Page Number: 3.4.13-21
Explanation and Analysis:

Learning that Octavius has raised an army and spoken ill of him in public, Antony grows furious, vowing to oppose his brand-new brother-in-law. Octavia begs him to modulate his anger, but her pleas are unsuccessful. After her husband leaves, she laments her fate, realizing that she will have to pray for both her husband and her brother, even though they are fighting against each other.

Octavia is a largely tragic and pathetic character in this drama. Pious, faithful, and kind, she is used as a pawn both by the brother who claims to love her, and the husband who longs to be rid of her. At this moment in time, both men have put her in an impossible situation. Their alliance is all but forgotten but she, a symbol of their former unity, is still caught in the middle. 

Act 3, Scene 6 Quotes

Where is he now?

My lord, in Athens.

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.

Get the entire Antony and Cleopatra LitChart as a printable PDF.
Antony and cleopatra.pdf.medium

Octavia Character Timeline in Antony and Cleopatra

The timeline below shows where the character Octavia appears in Antony and Cleopatra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 2
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon silent.” Agrippa speaks up and suggests that, since Fulvia is now dead, Octavius’ sister Octavia could be married to Antony, in order to bind Octavius and Antony together as brothers.... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
...Misena, south of Rome. Before preparing their forces, though, Antony and Octavius go to see Octavia, to conclude the business of the marriage. Lepidus leaves with them. Maecenas, Enobarbus, and Agrippa... (full context)
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon dinner. Enobarbus says they slept together and Cleopatra bore Antony a child. Maecenas praises Octavia’s beauty and wisdom, but Enobarbus doubts that Antony will ever really leave Cleopatra. He says... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
Octavius has introduced Octavia to Antony, and Antony tells her that although his business will take him from her... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...asks if Antony and Cleopatra are married, and Enobarbus says Antony is actually married to Octavia. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
At Octavius’ home in Rome, Enobarbus and Agrippa are discussing Octavia, who is sad to leave Rome and her brother. They discuss Lepidus, and joke about... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Octavia cries at having to leave her brother. She whispers something in his ear, and Enobarbus... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
Back in Egypt, Cleopatra hears back from the messenger she sent to go see Octavia. The messenger reports on Octavia’s physical appearance, telling Cleopatra that Octavia is shorter than she... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
At Antony’s house in Athens, Antony complains to Octavia that Octavius has “waged / New wars ‘gainst Pompey,” and “spoke scantly” of Antony. Octavia... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Messages, Warnings, and Omens Theme Icon
Octavia arrives and Octavius marvels that she came to Rome secretly, without any entourage. She tells... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Octavia is shocked, and laments that she has her “heart parted betwixt two friends.” Octavius says... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...all she has held back are “some lady trifles,” which she plans to give to Octavia. She angrily sends Seleucus away. Octavius tells Cleopatra not to worry about the things she... (full context)