once fierce and feared soldier who rules the Roman Empire along
with Octavius Caesar and Lepidus. When the play opens, Antony has
neglected his duties as a ruler in order to live in Egypt, where
he carries on a highly visible love affair with Cleopatra. His loyalty
is divided between the Western and Eastern worlds; he is torn between
the sense of duty and the desire to seek pleasure, between reason
and passion. While he feels the need to reaffirm the honor that
has made him a celebrated Roman hero, he is also madly in love with Cleopatra.
in-depth analysis of Antony.
queen of Egypt and Antony’s lover. A highly attractive woman who
once seduced Julius Caesar, Cleopatra delights in the thought that
she has caught Antony like a fish. In matters of love, as in all
things, Cleopatra favors high drama: her emotions are as volatile
as they are theatrical, and, regardless of whether her audience
is her handmaid or the emperor of Rome, she always offers a top-notch
performance. Although she tends to make a spectacle of her emotions,
one cannot doubt the genuine nature of her love for Antony. Shakespeare
makes clear that the queen does
love the general,
even if her loyalty is sometimes misplaced.
in-depth analysis of Cleopatra.
- The nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. Octavius
rules the Roman Empire with Antony and Lepidus. Relations between
Caesar and Antony are strained throughout the play, for the young
triumvir believes that Antony squanders his time and neglects his
duties while in Egypt. Ambitious and extremely pragmatic, Octavius
lacks Antony’s military might as a general, but his careful and
stoic reasoning enables him to avoid Antony’s tendency toward heroic
or romantic folly. Destined to be the first Roman emperor (later renamed
Caesar Augustus), he symbolizes “Western” values in the play, which
stand opposed to the exotic lures of Cleopatra’s “East.”
in-depth analysis of Octavius Caesar.
most loyal supporter. Worldly and cynical, Enobarbus is friendly
with the subordinates of both Pompey and Caesar, yet stays faithful
to his master even after Antony makes grave political and military missteps.
He abandons Antony only when the general appears to be completely
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus
- The third member of the triumvirate and the weakest,
both politically and personally. Lepidus’s rather desperate attempts
to keep the peace between Caesar and Antony fail when Caesar imprisons
him after the defeat of Pompey.
son of a great general who was one of Julius Caesar’s partners in
power. Pompey is young and popular with the Roman people, and he
possesses enough military might to stand as a legitimate threat
to the triumvirs. He fancies himself honorable for refusing to allow
one of his men to kill the unsuspecting Caesar, Antony, and Lepidus
when they are his guests.
Caesar’s sister. Octavia marries Antony in order to cement an alliance
between the two triumvirs. She is a victim of Antony’s deception,
and her meekness, purity, and submission make her the paradigm of
Roman womanhood, and Cleopatra’s polar opposite.
Charmian and Iras
- Cleopatra’s faithful attendants.
An Egyptian fortune-teller who follows Antony to Rome and predicts
that his fortune will always pale in comparison to Caesar’s.
of Octavius Caesar’s men. Dolabella is assigned to guard the captive
of Octavius Caesar’s officers. Agrippa leads the retreat from Antony’s
unexpectedly powerful forces.
general in Antony’s army. After the battle in which Antony follows
Cleopatra’s lead and flees, Camidius surrenders and defects to Caesar’s
Roman soldier under Antony’s command. Ventidius leads the legions
to victory against the kingdom of Parthia. Although a competent
fighter, he cautiously decides not to push his troops further into
battle, for fear that winning too much glory would sour his relationship
brave young soldier serving under Antony. Scarus garners fantastic
wounds in the battle against Caesar’s army, and begs for the opportunity
to win more.
of Caesar’s soldiers, who proves untrustworthy.
servant. She employs Diomedes to bring to Antony the message that
she has not committed suicide but is still alive.
attendant serving Antony. Eros’s love for his master compels him
to refuse Antony’s order that Eros kill him.
ambitious young soldier under Pompey. During the dinner party that
Pompey hosts for the triumvirate, Menas asks for permission to kill
Caesar, Antony, and Lepidus, which would result in the control of
the world falling into his master’s hands.
treasurer, who betrays his master.
Egyptian who brings a basket of figs containing poisonous snakes
of Antony’s soldiers.