“Have glowed like plated Mars” those godly eyes of Antony are now full of passion for Cleopatra. Shakespeare's use of the word “glowed” is particularly intriguing because it suggests softness and the Romans think Antony is becoming soft which links with the word “dotage” in line one of the play. The word “glowed” has a long vowel sound which makes it sound even softer. The passion described here signifies Antony’s feelings for Cleopatra throughout the whole play.
The reference to the god “Mars” the god of war is interesting because Mark Antony himself is like a god in the eyes of the Romans because he is one of “The triple pillars of the world” and Antony is a gifted soldier but this gifted god like soldier has turned his attention “Upon a tawny front”. North African people are “tawny” or olive coloured. This is Antony’s distraction, the tawny woman Cleopatra. Throughout the play Mark Antony’s torn between the Roman Empire and Cleopatra.
“The triple pillar of the world transformed
Into a strumpets fool.” Antony has supposedly become a fool to a woman Cleopatra and to the Romans a woman was someone lower than them who had no power but Cleopatra has immense power over Antony and this is totally unacceptable for the Romans. Not only are the Romans disgusted that Antony has bowed down to Cleopatra she is a “strumpet”, a whore. This “The triple pillar” Antony isn’t just one of the leaders of the Roman Empire he’s a leader “of the world” and he has been reduced by someone he shouldn’t even associate with.
Shakespeare cleverly males the first line Cleopatra utter refer to love “If it be love indeed”. This line in the first scene of the play establishes one of the leading themes of the play, love. Cleopatra is always thinking of love or something pleasurable.
When a messenger approaches Antony with news form Rome in the first scene he is reluctant to hear it “Grates me” but even so he has to hear it “the sum!”, the gist of it as he can’t be bothered to hear it all. This is true of Antony’s attitude throughout the play. The reason for this behaviour of Antony’s is he is torn, torn between the Roman Empire and his burning passion and desire for Cleopatra. Antony is so in love with Cleopatra that he would rather “Let Rome in Tiber melt” because he is convinced “Here is my space” in Egypt.
Another theme revealed in the opening by Shakespeare is pleasure and Antony’s pleasure is always hindered by the call of duty, the call of the Roman Empire but from the opening scene we know which one Antony prefers:
“There’s not a minute of our lives should stretch
Without some pleasure now.”