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 for her. Antony enters with Cleopatra and some attendants, including eunuchs fanning Cleopatra. Philo says that Antony has been made “into a strumpet’s fool.”
Cleopatra asks Antony how much he loves her, and he says it can’t be fathomed. A messenger brings news from Rome. Cleopatra guesses Fulvia, Antony’s wife, might be mad, or the young Octavius Caesar might have demands for Antony. Antony is not interested in the news, concerned only with Cleopatra. He says, “Let Rome in Tiber melt and the wide arch / Of the ranged empire fall.”
Antony professes his love for Cleopatra, and is so concerned with her that he neglects his duties in Rome. He even says that he doesn’t care if all of Rome should fall, in a sense betraying his own nation for Cleopatra. He also arrogantly refuses to let the messenger deliver his important news.
Cleopatra wants Antony to hear the news from Rome, but he says he doesn’t want to waste the time, preferring to “wander through the streets” with Cleopatra. Antony and Cleopatra leave without hearing the messenger. Demetrius remarks on how disrespectful Antony seems toward Octavius, and Philo responds that Antony is not himself.
Antony continues to disregard his duties and ignore the messenger, preferring to luxuriate with Cleopatra. Antony’s men worry about his transformation from a disciplined leader to a careless lover, evidenced by his lack of respect for his Roman colleague Octavius.