Antony and Cleopatra Act 2, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis
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Pompey discusses his prospects in Rome’s civil strife with two followers, Menas and Menecrates, thinking that he will do well because, “the people love me, and the sea is mine.” He thinks that Antony is busy carousing in Egypt, and Lepidus merely flatters Octavius and Antony, not having the true loyalty to either. Menas announces that Octavius and Lepidus have raised a strong army.
Pompey and his men are strategizing their way toward political and military power. He thinks that Antony is conveniently distracted by the pleasures of his life in Egypt, and doubts the tenuous loyalties between Octavius, Lepidus, and Antony.
Pompey says this must be false, as he is sure that they are in Rome waiting for Antony, who is preoccupied in Egypt with “all the charms of love.” He hopes Antony will stay in Egypt, under the control of Cleopatra’s beauty, lust, and witchcraft, as “Epicurean cooks / Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite.” But just then, a man named Varrius enters and announces that Antony has left Egypt for Rome.
Antony is thinking only of himself by spending time with Cleopatra, but his actions have political consequences for others, as Pompey benefits from Antony’s staying in Egypt. Pompey’s plans are significantly changed by the important news brought by the messenger Varrius.
Pompey worries that Antony’s soldiers are twice as dangerous as those of Octavius and Lepidus, but tells Menas that they should take it as a compliment that their forces have spurred Antony to leave “the lap of Egypt’s widow.” Menas thinks that Antony and Octavius will not easily be allies, since Antony’s wife and brother “did trespasses to Caesar,” and fought against him. Pompey says that he, as a common enemy for both of them, will stop them from feuding amongst themselves.
Menas still doubts the strength of the alliance between Antony and Octavius. Pompey is surprised that Antony has left the seductive pleasures of Egypt, which he has compared to witchcraft. For now, the common enemy of Pompey is enough to maintain the alliance between Octavius and Antony.