Antony in "Antony and Cleopatra" I.i-II.iv

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Antony in “Antony and Cleopatra”

Antony, one third of the triumvirate, the leaders of the Roman Empire, is a skilful and powerful general, in love with Cleopatra, who constantly mocks Antony, leading to a joke power struggle in the opening scenes of the play.

Despite originally being known as a powerful and respected leader, certain members of Antony’s company, like Philo, believe that he is wasting his time in Egypt with Cleopatra, and that Antony is not doing his duty as a member of the triumvirate:

Philo: Nay, but this dotage of our general’s

O’er flows the measure. Those his goodly eyes,

... now bend, now turn

The office and devotion of their view

Upon a tawny front. His captain’s heart...

Reneges all temper

And is become the bellows and the fan

To cool a gypsy’s lust.

Take but good note, and you shall see him

The triple pillar of the world transformed

Into a strumpet’s fool.                                        


Philo means that, since being in Egypt with Cleopatra (the “tawny front” and “strumpet”) Antony’s solider persona has become weakened, and he now lives to be a plaything for Cleopatra. The “triple pillar of the world” means that he is a member of the ruling triumvirate, and this insinuates that Antony is not doing his job properly, or does not care about Rome.

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This is confirmed a few lines later, twice by Antony himself:

Messenger: News, my good lord, from Rome

Antony: Grates me! The sum.


In the above quote, Antony dismisses the messenger, who is bringing news from Rome, probably meaning Lepidus, Caesar, his wife Fulvia, or another important person. Whilst not only being rude, asking for the message to deliver in a shortened version is not what a member ...

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