The Comedy of Errors

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Antipholus of Syracuse Character Analysis

The other one of Aegeon’s twins. He comes to Ephesus with his servant Dromio of Syracuse, in search of his long-lost mother and brother. He is greatly concerned with his money, but also with his family—he has traveled all over the Mediterranean in search of his missing relatives. He is continually confused for his twin, and resorts to the supernatural (especially witches) to explain the strange behavior of everyone in Ephesus. He is easily frustrated with Dromio, whom he beats in his frustration.

Antipholus of Syracuse Quotes in The Comedy of Errors

The The Comedy of Errors quotes below are all either spoken by Antipholus of Syracuse or refer to Antipholus of Syracuse. 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:
Commerce and Exchange Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Comedy of Errors published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

He that commends me to mine own content
Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
I to the world am like a drop of water,
That in the ocean seeks another drop;
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself:
So I, to find a mother and a brother,
In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker)
Page Number: 1.2.33-40
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse, along with his servant Dromio of Syracuse, has landed in Ephesus to look for his mother and brother. A local merchant tells Antipholus to be careful, and to pretend that he is not from Syracuse or else he'll have to pay the 1000 mark fine or be sentenced to death. Antipholus sends Dromio to the Centaur Inn with his money, planning to meet Dromio soon. The merchant wishes Antipholus happiness before leaving the stage. Left alone, Antipholus of Syracuse delivers this small soliloquy. 

In the soliloquy, Antipholus describes the difficulty of finding his lost family. He compares himself to "a drop of water" which "in the ocean seeks another drop." It is extremely difficult and unlikely for him to reunite with his family, making the eventual reunion all the more miraculous and rewarding. Antipholus of Syracuse cares about money, but we also see how important family is to him and the unhappiness and pain he suffers in searching for his lost brother and mother.

Note also that he expresses this loss of his others as a loss of self: "unhappy, lose myself." This gesture foreshadows the existential feelings that the brothers experience in the many cases of mistaken identity (which begin with the entrance of Dromio of Ephesus immediately after this soliloquy ends). When the characters meet with people who know them by name as entirely different people, they begin to question who they are. The confusions are so great that they begin to turn inward, till characters lose themselves. As Dromio of Syracuse profoundly and comedically asks later in the play, "Am I myself?"


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Where is the gold I gave in charge to thee?

To me, sir? Why, you gave no gold to me.

Come on, sir knave, have done your foolishness,
And tell me how thou hast disposed thy charge.

My charge was but to fetch you from the mart
Home to your house, the Phoenix, sir, to dinner:
My mistress and her sister stays for you.

Now, as I am a Christian, answer me,
In what safe place you have bestow’d my money;
Or I shall break that merry sconce of yours,
That stands on tricks when I am undisposed:
Where is the thousand marks thou hadst of me?

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Dromio of Ephesus (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 1.2.71-82
Explanation and Analysis:

Dromio of Ephesus has entered the stage immediately after Antipholus of Syracuse finished his soliloquy. Dromio of Ephesus mistakes this Antipholus for his master, Antipholus of Ephesus, and tells Antipholus of Syracuse that it's time to come home dinner. Antipholus of Syracuse is confused, thinking that the Dromio he is speaking with is Dromio of Syracuse, the servant he just sent to the Centaur Inn with money. Thus at the beginning of the quote, Antipholus asks the wrong Dromio where is the gold that he gave to his own Dromio. Dromio of Ephesus is confused, and responds as such, since Antipholus of Syracuse only gave money to Dromio of Syracuse. The two continue to mistake each other for their twins, one asking for his money, the other asking his master to come home for dinner.

This interaction is the first of many, many confusing scenes of mistaken identities. Note that the social hierarchy dominates the interaction. In the dialogue that follows the quote, Dromio puns on "marks," saying he has received physical marks from beatings as opposed to marks as currency. Throughout the play, both master Antipholuses beat their (and their twin's) Dromio. The masters constantly blame the servants for the misunderstandings, and this scene shows early on how the dynamic will work in the play.

Upon my life, by some device or other
The villain is o’erraught of all my money.
They say this town is full of cozenage;
As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind.
Soul-killing witches that deform the body,
Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks,
And many such-like liberties of sin:
If it prove so, I will be gone the sooner.
I’ll to the Centaur, to go seek this slave:
I greatly fear my money is not safe.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 1.2.98-108
Explanation and Analysis:

After Dromio runs off stage to avoid further beating, Antipholus of Syracuse offers this soliloquy. He first suggests that Dromio is a villain who has run away with Antipholus's money. Antipholus of Syracuse then goes on to say that he has heard that Ephesus is home to "dark-working sorcerers" and "soul-killing witches." The supernatural explanation for the misunderstanding is humorous, and at the same time eerie. The dark undertones of Aegeon's possible execution are still fresh, and sorcery is the only way that Antipholus of Syracuse, who believes his situation to be hopeless, can understand the interaction he's just had with Dromio of Ephesus.

Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Fie, brother! How the world is changed with you!
When were you wont to use my sister thus?
She sent for you by Dromio home to dinner.

By Dromio?

By me?

By thee; and this thou didst return from him,
That he did buffet thee, and, in his blows,
Denied my house for his, me for his wife.

Did you converse, sir, with this gentlewoman?
What is the course and drift of your compact?
I, Sir? I never saw her till this time.

Villain, thou liest; for even her very words
Didst thou deliver to me on the mart.

I never spake with her in all my life.

How can she thus, then, call us by our names,
Unless it be by inspiration.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Dromio of Syracuse (speaker), Adriana (speaker), Luciana (speaker)
Page Number: 2.2.163-178
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse are extremely confused by Adriana's long tirade, and so Antipholus explains that he has just landed in Ephesus. Luciana begins the dialogue in the quote by commenting how changed Antipholus seems, continuing to confuse him for his twin, Antipholus of Ephesus. Luciana asks him why he is treating her sister this way, pretending he doesn't know her when Dromio was sent to bring Antipholus home for dinner. Thus the comedic response of Antipholus and Dromio in turn: "By Dromio?" "By me?"

Adriana confirms that she sent Dromio and that he returned from Antipholus having been beaten and denied. Dromio of Syracuse respond in confusion, since he has never before met Adriana, but Antipholus calls him a liar, having interacted with (beaten) Dromio of Ephesus. Antipholus concludes by asking how else could Adriana know Dromio's name, unless by divine inspiration or witchcraft. This scene continues the building sequence of coincidences and mistaken identities. Like with most of the issues, the servants (Dromios) take the blame for the miscommunications and problems. Antipholus of Syracuse is uncertain what to do and if he is dreaming or not, and he ultimately decides to follow Adriana and pretend to be her husband in order to find out more information.

Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

And may it be that you have quite forgot
A husband’s office? Shall, Antipholus,
Even in the spring of love, thy love-springs rot?
Shall love, in building, grow so ruinous?
If you did wed my sister for her wealth,
Then for her wealth’s sake use her with more kindness:
Or if you like elsewhere, do it by stealth;
Muffle your false love with some show of blindness:
Let not my sister read it in your eye.

Related Characters: Luciana (speaker), Antipholus of Syracuse
Page Number: 3.2.1-11
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Luciana and Antipholus of Syracuse are talking, while Luciana still believes him to be Antipholus of Ephesus. She chides him for forgetting his duties ("office") as a husband, first for falling out of love with his wife, and second for being so overt about it. She describes his love as rotting, and ruinous, suggesting that wealth was the only reason that Antipholus married Adriana in the first place. If this is the case, Luciana asserts, then Antipholus ought to be kind to her for the same reason: money. Luciana believes that if Antipholus loves someone else, he should hide it and use stealth, here using the figurative language of eyes and blindness to emphasize her point. As the dialogue continues, Antipholus of Syracuse will deny being married to Adriana, and go on profess his love to Luciana herself. Note also that Luciana speaks in rhymes (though not couplets).

Are you a god? Would you create me new?
Transform me, then, and to your power I’ll yield.
But if that I am I, then well I know
Your weeping sister is no wife of mine,
Nor to her bed no homage do I owe:
Far more, far more to you do I decline.
O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister flood of tears:
Sing, siren, for thyself, and I will dote.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.40-49
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse begins by asking Luciana if she is a god with the power to transform him. He uses this dramatic language to convey the impossibility and the emotional weight of her suggestion that he pretend to be someone he isn't. He continues by saying that if it is the case that he is himself (if that I am I), then he is certain that Adriana is not his wife. Here Antipholus uses rhetorical language (if / then statements) common in love poetry, to turn his focus from Luciana's suggestion to his own courtship of her and the beginning of a new argument. He continues, saying that he owes nothing to Adriana, and in fact is "far more, far more" interested in Luciana herself. Calling her a mermaid and a siren, he asks her to make her own case rather than telling him to love Adriana.

This comedic moment seems absurd and wrong to Luciana, who still believes that Antipholus of Syracuse is the Antipholus of Ephesus that is married to her sister. The courtship of Luciana seems natural, as Shakespearean comedies produce as many marriages as possible—but though Luciana has expressed the opinion that wives should be subservient, she has also expressed a hesitancy to get married. The end of the play will imply that Antipholus of Syracuse will marry Luciana, but we do not see the marriage take place on stage and are not certain that it will occur.

Why, how now, Dromio! Where runn’st thou so fast?

Do you know me, sir? Am I Dromio? Am I your man? Am I myself?

Thou art Dromio, thou art my man, thou art thyself.

I am an ass, I am a woman’s man, and besides myself.

What woman’s man? And how besides thyself?

Marry, sir, besides myself, I am due to a woman; one that claims me, one that haunts me, one that will have me.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Dromio of Syracuse (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.77-89
Explanation and Analysis:

Upset by Antipholus of Syracuse's sudden declaration of love, Luciana has run to get her sister. As she exits, Dromio of Syracuse runs onto the stage. Antipholus stops him and asks where he's running so quickly. Here Dromio responds with the comedic line that also speaks to the eerie feeling of being out of place: "Am I Dromio? Am I your man? Am I myself?" He is so confused by the way others are treating him that he begins to question if he really is himself. Antipholus assures him that he is himself, before Dromio claims to be an "ass" and a "woman's man." Dromio proceeds to describe an interaction with the kitchen woman named Nell, whom Dromio of Ephesus is engaged to. Nell mistook Dromio of Syracuse for her fiancee, instigating the strange, self-questioning hysteria in Dromio of Syracuse. He goes on describes Nell as extremely fat, making an elaborate joke that she is the size of a globe, naming different parts of her body with countries around the world (also note the pun on Shakespeare's theatre, named the Globe). This scene is played for comedy, but it also causes Antipholus to believe that there are "none but witches" in Ephesus, using magic and witchcraft to explain what are actually a series of coincidences and human errors. He decides to leave Ephesus as soon as possible, and sends Dromio to find out when the soonest departing ship leaves.

Master Antipholus,—

Ay, that’s my name.

I know it well, sir:—lo, here is the chain.
I thought to have ta’en you at the Porpentine:
The chain unfinish’d made me stay thus long.

What is your will that I shall do with this?

What please yourself, sir: I have made it for you.

Made it for me, sir! I bespoke it not.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Angelo (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 3.2.182-189
Explanation and Analysis:

After Dromio leaves to find out when the next ship leaves, Angelo enters with the golden necklace that Antipholus of Ephesus promised Adriana. Angelo confuses Antipholus of Syracuse for his twin, and gives the chain to the wrong person. Antipholus denies requesting the chain, but eventually accepts it, confused by the interaction. This exchange begins the series of botched exchanges and trades with the wrong people that will continue throughout the play. Soon Antipholus of Ephesus will deny having received the necklace, since he truly has not, and frustration will build. This series of commercial mistakes will also involve a Merchant, who demands payment from Angelo. Angelo will demand money for the chain, but struggle to receive it having given it to the wrong person.

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

Thou art, as you are all, a sorceress:
I conjure thee to leave me and be gone.

Give me the ring of mine you had at dinner,
Or, for my diamond, the chain you promised,
And I’ll be gone, sir, and not trouble you.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Courtesan (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 4.3.68-72
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse is convinced that devils, sorcerers, and witches inhabit Ephesus and are the cause of all of the confusion. A Courtesan enters the stage and calls Antipholus by name, causing him to shout at her and call her Satan. The Courtesan requests of Antipholus the chain, which he has, in exchange for a diamond ring. Apparently, Antipholus of Ephesus purchased the gold necklace with the intention of trading it with the Courtesan for the diamond ring. The exchanges have all gotten mixed up due to the countless errors and mistakes, so the Courtesan believes that Antipholus has stolen her ring. This detail is especially confusing, as Adriana mentioned that she was promised a chain, not a ring. After Antipholus and Dromio leave, the Courtesan concludes that they are insane, and goes to tell Adriana that her husband has stolen the ring.

Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

You have done wrong to this my honest friend;
Who, but for staying on our controversy,
Had hoisted sail and put to sea to-day:
This chain you had of me; can you deny it?

I think I had; I never did deny it.

Yes, that you did, sir, and forswore it too.

Who heard me to deny it or forswear it?

These ears of mine, thou know’st, did hear thee.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Angelo (speaker), Merchant (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 5.1.19-26
Explanation and Analysis:
As Angelo and the Merchant discuss their financial situation, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse enter while Antipholus is wearing the gold necklace. Angelo and the Merchant ask why he denied receiving the chain if he is wearing it, mistaking him for Antipholus of Ephesus. Comedically, Antipholus doesn't deny receiving the chain, instead denying that he ever denied receiving it. The Merchant and Angelo claim to have heard Antipholus swear denial, which angers him. Honor is extremely important to Antipholus, and despite the humorous nature of the dozens of errors and coincidences, he is willing to duel to protect his word. Before a fight can begin, Adriana, Luciana, and the Courtesan enter and tell Angelo and the Merchant that Antipholus and Dromio are mad. The pair then flees to a nearby abbey.
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Antipholus of Syracuse Character Timeline in The Comedy of Errors

The timeline below shows where the character Antipholus of Syracuse appears in The Comedy of Errors. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 1
Marriage and Family Theme Icon
At the house of Antipholus of Ephesus (the twin of Antipholus of Syracuse ), his wife Adriana talks with her sister Luciana. She is upset that neither her... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Mistakes and Coincidences Theme Icon
Scapegoats and Social Hierarchy Theme Icon
Antipholus of Syracuse has found out that his Dromio did indeed bring his money to the Centaur Inn.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Marriage and Family Theme Icon
Appearances and Identity Theme Icon
Outside the same house, Luciana and Antipholus of Syracuse are talking. Luciana scolds him for losing his love for Adriana and not respecting their... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Appearances and Identity Theme Icon
Mistakes and Coincidences Theme Icon
Antipholus of Syracuse runs into Dromio of Syracuse in the street. Antipholus mentions that all sorts of people... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Commerce and Exchange Theme Icon
Appearances and Identity Theme Icon
Mistakes and Coincidences Theme Icon
...He says that Antipholus is “of very reverend reputation” and usually good for his money. Antipholus of Syracuse enters with Dromio of Syracuse. Angelo sees his chain around Antipholus, and asks Antipholus how... (full context)
Commerce and Exchange Theme Icon
Appearances and Identity Theme Icon
Mistakes and Coincidences Theme Icon
...Duke begins to understand what has happened, and Adriana asks whom she dined with earlier. Antipholus of Syracuse tells Luciana that, now that she knows he is not her brother-in-law, he would like... (full context)