Antony and Cleopatra

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Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Analysis

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Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon
Honor, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Strategy, Manipulation, and Power Theme Icon
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Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Theme Icon

Antony and Cleopatra opens with a scene in which Antony professes his unfathomable love for Cleopatra and, while the play covers much of the political drama surrounding the crumbling of the Roman republic and creation of the Roman Empire under Octavius, it is also centrally about the romantic relationship between Antony and Cleopatra (after all, it’s not entitled Antony and Octavius). Antony tells Cleopatra that his love has no bounds, and often it certainly does seem excessive. It keeps him from important business in Rome, clouds his judgment, and is at the very least a contributing factor to his downfall. This is not to say that Antony’s love is wholly negative or that all love in the play is bad, though. One can view Antony’s love for Cleopatra as (at times) a powerful, genuine devotion to another person. Moreover, the close bond between Octavius and his sister Octavia suggests the positive nature of familial love. Antony’s love is so destructive to himself perhaps because it is mostly a matter of lust and reckless passion.

Enobarbus says that Cleopatra does not satisfy Antony’s appetite for love but rather “makes hungry / Where she most satisfies.” In this, he compares Antony’s desire to other forms of appetite. And indeed it is not merely love that Antony indulges in while in Egypt. He and Cleopatra feast, drink, and carouse decadently. Cleopatra herself seems at times obsessed with beauty and pleasure. All of Egypt becomes associated in the play with a decadent, luxurious lifestyle. This fits with long-standing cultural stereotypes by which western art and literature has often caricatured the east as a place of decadence and leisure, and contributes to a conflict between east and west personified by Antony and Octavius (between whom the world is divided politically). The individual dispute between Antony and Octavius can be seen as a conflict between Rome’s western austerity and Egypt’s eastern luxury. Antony is a Roman, but the play follows his transformation as he moves to Egypt and becomes more and more in thrall to his own desires for various forms of pleasure. At the end of the play, Octavius is victorious, suggesting that his practical austerity conquers Antony’s licentious lifestyle of pleasure. But the play is a tragedy: Shakespeare presents the downfall of Antony and Cleopatra sympathetically, bestowing some honor on them even as they lose themselves among the pleasures of the Egyptian court.

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Love, Pleasure, and Decadence Quotes in Antony and Cleopatra

Below you will find the important quotes in Antony and Cleopatra related to the theme of Love, Pleasure, and Decadence.
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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Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space.

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.38-39
Explanation and Analysis:

Interrupted from his time with Cleopatra by a Roman messenger, Antony makes clear his priorities: he doesn't care if the city "melt[s]" into the Tiber River, or if the empire itself "fall[s]." All he cares about is being near his beloved queen.

Antony is known in the play as a great Roman patriot--one who loves his country more than himself, and consistently prioritizes the needs of the state over his own. He has devoted his life to expanding and protecting the empire, and is now one of its three supreme leaders. Thus to hear him suddenly say that he doesn't care whether or not Rome falls is shocking for the characters around him.

This confession is particularly pleasing to Cleopatra, however. As the queen of a nation that could easily be crushed by the Roman empire, it is extremely advantageous to her to have Antony under her power. The question of how much Cleopatra loves Antony, versus how much she is using him for her own political gain, will remain ambiguous throughout the play. 

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 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 1 Quotes

My powers are crescent, and my auguring hope
Says it will come to the full. Mark Antony
In Egypt sits at dinner, and will make
No wars without doors: Caesar gets money where
He loses hearts: Lepidus flatters both,
Of both is flatter'd; but he neither loves,
Nor either cares for him.

Related Characters: Sextus Pompey (speaker), Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar, Lepidus
Page Number: 2.1.13-19
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Pompey, a rebel and the enemy of the co-consuls Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar, and Lepidus, discusses the situation in Rome with his generals. His comments reveal just how tangled and twisted the political reality of the Roman Empire really is right now. Pompey notes how Antony is currently wasting himself in Egypt, how Caesar is greedy and uncharismatic, and how the weak Lepidus attempts to "flatter" both other leaders, even though none of the three actually like each other.

Although Pompey is of course inclined to think of his enemies as disconnected and dysfunctional, his words still paint a troubling picture of the Roman Empire's leaders. Jealous and power-hungry men, they are supposed to rule together, and yet actually are constantly seeking to undermine each other.

In this environment, Antony's love for Cleopatra is a huge handicap. It gives him a weakness for his fellow leaders to exploit, and takes his attention away from the power games that all those around him are playing. 

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. 

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 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.

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

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

Not know me yet?

Cold-hearted toward me?

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. 

I will be treble-sinew'd, hearted, breathed,
And fight maliciously: for when mine hours
Were nice and lucky, men did ransom lives
Of me for jests; but now I'll set my teeth,
And send to darkness all that stop me. Come,
Let's have one other gaudy night: call to me
All my sad captains; fill our bowls once more;
Let's mock the midnight bell.

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker)
Page Number: 3.13.217-224
Explanation and Analysis:

Heartened by Cleopatra's vow of love, Antony asserts that he will be braver than ever before. He recalls how he used to show mercy to his enemies, but now promises that he will kill them all. He tells Cleopatra that they will have "one other gaudy night," and summons all of his soldiers to drink with him.

Although this speech might seem foolish and misguided, it also suggests that on some level, Antony knows how doomed he is. He wants another "gaudy night" because he knows it will be his last. His urging to "mock the midnight bell" most obviously means that he will stay up late; yet it can also be interpreted that Antony wishes to "mock" his oncoming death. 

This passage illuminates the contradictory and tragic nature of Antony. Although he is brave, sincere, and ruled by emotion rather than logic, Antony is certainly not stupid. He may pretend to think that he can win against Octavius, but in truth, he knows all too well the reality of his situation. 

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

Act 4, Scene 15 Quotes

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

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

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. 

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

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.