Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 3

You take from me a great part of myself.
Use me well in’t. Sister, prove such a wife
As my thoughts make thee, and as my farthest bond
Shall pass on thy aproof. Most noble Antony,
Let not the piece of virtue which is set
Betwixt us as the cement of our love
To keep it builded, be the ram to batter
The fortress of it; for better might we
Have loved without this mean if on both parts
This be not cherished.

Following the advice that Agrippa offers him in Act II, scene ii, Caesar offers Antony his sister, Octavia, as a means of securing peace between them. This gesture attests to the power that men ascribe to women and female sexuality in this play. What men consider the wrong kind of female sexuality—embodied proudly and openly by Cleopatra—stands as a threat to men, their reason, and sense of duty. What they consider the right kind, however, as represented by the modest “piece of virtue” Octavia, promises to be “the cement” of Caesar’s love for Antony. Caesar’s language, here, is particularly important: the words he chooses to describe Antony’s union to Octavia and, by extension, his reunion with Caesar, belong to the vocabulary of builders: “the cement of our love / To keep it builded, be the ram to batter / The fortress of it” (emphasis added). This language makes an explicit connection between the private realm of love and the public realm of the state, a connection that causes Caesar more than a little anxiety throughout the play.