Antony and Cleopatra is a tragic play by William Shakespeare first performed in 1606. Read Antony and Cleopatra here, with side-by-side No Fear translations into modern English.
Antony and Cleopatra discuss Antony’s responsibilities in Rome, which Antony no longer cares about because of his love for Cleopatra.
Antony decides to return to Rome after learning that his wife and brother have unsuccessfully raised a rebellion against Caesar, resulting in his wife’s death.
Cleopatra chides Antony and questions how much love Antony really feels for Cleopatra.
Octavius Caesar blames Antony for fooling around in Egypt when he should be defending Rome. Pompey is gaining strength.
Cleopatra is worried by Antony’s departure for Rome but is relieved after he sends her a gift, which prompts her to vow to stay in touch with Antony through messengers.
Pompey is initially confident about his ability to defeat the triumvirate (Caesar, Antony, and Lepidus), because the formidable Antony is busy in Egypt. However, Pompey learns that Antony is returning.
Antony and Caesar argue about Antony’s absence and the army raised by his wife and brother. Antony agrees to marry Caesar’s sister to bond the two leaders together.
After a soothsayer advises Antony to put some distance between Antony and Caesar, Antony decides to launch a military campaign in the eastern land of Parthia.
Lepidus orders Maecenas and Agrippa to gather their soldiers and meet at Mount Misenum, where they will confront Pompey’s army.
A messenger tells Cleopatra that Antony has married Octavia. Cleopatra sends the messenger to go look at Octavia and report back what she is like.
Pompey and the triumvirate meet before battle. They seem to come to a peaceful agreement.
The triumvirate become drunk and Pompey and his men debate whether to kill the three men while they are defenseless.
Ventidius is victorious in Parthia, but decides not to press his victory lest he become too successful, and fall out of favor with Antony.
After the night of drinking aboard Pompey’s ship, Antony and Caesar discuss Antony’s marriage to Octavia before Antony and Octavia leave Rome.
Cleopatra’s messenger returns and Cleopatra is delighted to learn that Octavia is short and lifeless. Cleopatra believes that Antony will return to her side.
Antony tells Octavia that he feels disrespected by Caesar, though Octavia suggests that Antony has no need to worry. Antony sends Octavia to Rome to make peace with Caesar.
Enobarbus and Eros describe how Caesar and Lepidus defeated Pompey together in battle before Caesar then turned on Lepidus out of paranoia.
Caesar says that Antony has settled in Egypt to serve as a king with Cleopatra, but that Caesar is willing to make peace and exchange conquered lands with Antony. Octavia is heartbroken to learn that Antony has returned to Cleopatra.
Antony plans to confront Caesar at sea with Cleopatra’s fleet, even though his advisors strongly recommend waiting for land battle.
Caesar orders his army to hold off its attack until the sea battle ends.
Antony instructs Enobarbus to set their squadrons on a hillside, which will allow them to view the battle at sea.
Enobarbus describes the sea battle between Antony and Caesar. It looked like Antony was winning but then Cleopatra fled the fight and Antony followed behind her, leaving Caesar to win.
Antony, deeply ashamed for abandoning the battle, tells Cleopatra that he was once noble and reliable. Antony decides he must try to make peace with Caesar.
Caesar receives messengers from Antony and Cleopatra asking for mercy. Caesar says that he will let Egypt remain in the hands of Cleopatra’s descendants if she betrays Antony.
Cleopatra decides to betray Antony. Antony is suspicious but still trusts her. Antony is becoming irrational and Enobarbus realizes it’s time to leave Antony’s army.
Caesar rejects Antony’s challenge of one-to-one combat, instead planning to utterly crush Antony and his army for good.
Antony tells his men that this may be his last night alive, causing them to weep. Antony encourages everyone to enjoy this evening before the battle.
Antony’s soldiers hear strange music that they believe is the music of Hercules, the god after whom Antony modeled himself and who they believe now abandons him.
Eros and Cleopatra help Antony put his armor on. Antony is confident about victory as he prepares to lead his men into battle.
Antony learns that Enobarbus has deserted him, but that he left his wealth behind. Antony commands that the wealth be returned to Enobarbus to shame him for his departure.
Caesar confidently prepares to begin the battle with Antony’s defected soldiers at the front of his army, while Enobarbus receives his possessions from Antony and declares himself a villain.
Agrippa calls for his troops to retreat, declaring that the power of Antony’s forces has exceeded his expectations.
Antony returns from the battle victorious, praising his soldiers and declaring his love for Cleopatra.
Enobarbus criticizes himself for being a traitor and a fugitive, eventually collapsing dead on the ground.
Antony determines that Caesar means to attack him by sea and declares himself ready.
Caesar holds his armies back, preparing to attack Antony at sea.
Antony watches the naval battle as Cleopatra’s fleet betrays him and joins Caesar’s side. Antony becomes furious with Cleopatra and threatens to kill her.
Upon the advice of her maid, Cleopatra locks herself inside of a monument and has word sent to Antony that she has killed herself.
Upon hearing news of Cleopatra’s death, Antony asks Eros to kill him, although Eros refuses and kills himself instead. Antony then attempts to kill himself but fails to do it quickly, learning that Cleopatra is still alive.
Antony is brought to Cleopatra and dies. Cleopatra decides to kill herself.
Caesar learns of Antony’s death and declares that Antony was ultimately an honorable man who deserves to be mourned. Caesar reveals that he does not intend to harm Cleopatra, but plans to take her back to Rome as a trophy for his victory in Egypt.
Cleopatra is captured by Caesar’s men, but rather than let herself be paraded through the streets of Rome as a trophy, she kills herself with poisonous snakes. When Caesar learns of her death he orders that she be buried with honor next to Antony’s grave.
Understanding the Bard is hard, but the No Fear Shakespeare guide for Antony and Cleopatra makes it easy!