Act I, Scene 1
Philo and Demetrius are disappointed in Antony. He used to be so full of manly war feelings, but now all he wants to do is dote on Cleopatra.
Antony and Cleopatra are discussing how great their love is when a messenger arrives from Rome. Antony doesn’t want to hear it, but Cleopatra insists. Perhaps his wife is angry and wants him to come home. Perhaps Caesar has another errand for him. Antony wishes Rome to melt away in the Tiber River. All he needs is Cleopatra’s sweet love. She chides him for marrying Fulvia without actually loving her. Cleopatra teases that he should listen to the messengers, but they decide to wander about the city together.
Demetrius and Philo reiterate their disappointment in Antony and hope for a better tomorrow.
Act I, Scene 2
Cleopatra’s servants have fun with a new soothsayer that has been brought to court. The women want him to give them good fortune, but he just tells them what he honestly sees. They will outlive Cleopatra and love more than they are loved. They take it in stride and show interest in the fortunes of others.
Cleopatra comes in looking for Antony. She was taken aback by his sudden seriousness. She demands that Enobarbus fetch him, but leaves as he approaches.
Antony gets news from Rome that his wife and brother teamed up to fight against Caesar. A lot of land has been lost. Antony is disappointed in himself for letting this happen. He decides to leave Egypt. Another messenger comes in with the news that his wife died. This hardens his resolve to leave.
Enobarbus comes in and can’t believe Antony wants to leave. Cleopatra will die many times over if Antony leaves. Antony explains that his wife died and he’s needed in Rome. Enobarbus thinks Antony is needed in Egypt and should be happy that he can go for a newer model now that his wife died. Antony is not in a joking mood and tells Enobarbus to inform his men that they will be leaving. Pompey’s son, Pompey is moving against Caesar. They have to go. Antony will break the news to Cleopatra.
Act I, Scene 3
Cleopatra wonders where Antony is. She sends a messenger to find him, but also to pretend she is feeling the opposite of Antony. If he is sad, she is dancing. If he is happy, she’s sick. Charmain thinks Cleopatra needs to be a little more relaxed. Cleopatra disagrees.
When Antony comes in, she pretends to be sick. He tries to talk, but he won’t let him. She rails about how he must be returning to his wife and she should have known that there was no way for him to be faithful to her and be married to his wife. She feels betrayed and heartbroken.
Antony explains that there is some business in Rome he must attend to. He assures her that his heart will remain with her in Egypt. He explains that Sextus Pompeius, Pompey, is moving against Octavius Caesar. He is receiving all of the accolades formerly bestowed upon his father, Pompey the Great. Antony is needed to fight against Pompey. But, more notably, his wife has died.
Cleopatra feels silly for scolding him about Fulvia. She can’t believe Fulvia is dead. Antony apparently doesn’t show enough emotion about his wife’s death because Cleopatra gets angry at him. She assumes that because he is not upset about Fulvia, he won’t be upset about her. She is dismayed at how quickly Antony falls in and out of love.
Just as quickly, she changes her tune and apologizes for acting irrationally. She wishes him well on his exploits. Antony reassures her again that he will come back to her.
Act I, Scene 4
Caesar consults with Lepidus about Antony. He’s disappointed that Antony wiles away the hours partaking in all sorts of leisure activities and drinking the night away. Lepidus thinks that it’s not really Antony’s fault. These vices are ones he was born with and can’t change willingly, or at least easily. Caesar asserts that Lepidus is being too nice. Antony should know better than to abandon his duties for the sake of pleasure.
A messenger comes in with news on Pompey’s movements. He is big time showing up Caesar’s forces at sea. Apparently, there are quite a few people on Pompey’s side who feared Caesar. Caesar is not surprised by shifting loyalties. There are also some pirates making it impossible for Caesar’s ships to survive on the sea.
Caesar openly wishes for Antony to abandon his frolicking in Egypt and return to Rome. Antony used to thrive in the harshest battle conditions, but now he is dishonoring his own reputation. Caesar hopes that Antony will return soon because Pompey is benefitting from their separation.
Caesar and Lepidus promise to share information with each other before departing.
Act I, Scene 5
Cleopatra asks her servant to give her a sleeping draft so she can sleep the entire time Antony is away. Then, she asks her eunuch if he is capable of loving. He can, but he can’t do the deed. Cleopatra wonders where Antony is, what he is doing, and what he is talking about.
Alexas, a messenger from Antony, enters. He gives Cleopatra a pearl that Antony kissed several times for her. He promises to give her jewels and kingdoms. Then, Antony mounted his horse and it reared back, stunning Alexas into silence. Cleopatra wants to know if he seemed happy or sad. Alex explains that he seemed to be between extremes. That seems to appease Cleopatra. She asks if he passed her other messengers. He did and he asks why there are so many. She wants to make sure that Antony receives a message from her every day.
She asks her servant, Charmain, if Cleopatra ever loved Caesar as much as she loved Antony. Charmain apparently liked Caesar a lot and keeps complimenting him. Cleopatra threatens to punch her in the face. Cleopatra explains that she only loved Caesar because she was young and didn’t know any better. She will write another letter to Antony.
Act II, Scene 1
Pompey believes he is going to win, but Menas thinks he shouldn’t be so sure of himself. Pompey is confident because he is dominating the sea, Antony is wasting his time in Egypt, Caesar gains money, but loses friends, and Lepidus is trying to play both sides. Menas explains that Caesar and Lepidus are in the field of battle. Pompey doesn’t believe him because he knows they are in Rome.
Varrius enters with the news that Antony has left Egypt and is on his way to Rome. Pompey’s a little worried now because he didn’t think that Antony would bother leaving Egypt for this fight. Antony is the superior warrior. Menas reminds him that Antony’s wife and brother just moved against Caesar, so it may be a rough reunion. Pompey is still concerned that they will move past their grievances for the greater cause.
Act II, Scene 2
Lepidus asks Enobarbus to convince Antony to be nice to Caesar. Enobarbus will do no such thing. If Antony wants to tell off Caesar, he will. Lepidus asks him to at least not make things worse.
The meeting between Caesar and Antony is tense to say the least. Lepidus urges them to get over their anger, but it doesn’t work. Caesar is deeply offended that Mark Antony broke his oath by staying in Egypt when Caesar was being attacked. To add insult to injury, Caesar was being attacked by Antony’s brother and wife.
Antony explains that he had nothing to do with his brother’s actions. As for Fulvia, there was no controlling her and she only took part to try and lure Antony out of Egypt. Caesar no longer trusts Antony. Agrippa proposes that Antony marry Caesar’s sister, Octavia. This would bind them as brothers. Antony wants to know what Caesar thinks. Caesar wants to know what Antony thinks. Antony can think of no better honor than to marry Octavia. It’s settled and they’re all friends again.
Enobarbus, Agrippa, and Mecaenas stay behind to gossip. Enobarbus tells them all about the first time Antony saw Cleopatra. She was on a golden barge with purple sails. It was rowed by silver oars. There was a beautiful perfume in the air. Cleopatra’s dress was as extravagant as the boat. Antony was immediately smitten. Enobarbus explains that there is no way Antony won’t return to Cleopatra. Mecaenas hopes Octavia can settle his heart.
Act II, Scene 3
Antony explains to his new bride that he will have to be apart from her at times, but assures her that all his wayward ways are behind him. Octavia seems to understand and leaves.
Antony speaks to the Soothsayer about his fortunes. The Soothsayer warns that Antony must return to Egypt. He cannot win a fight against Caesar. Caesar’s fortunes are too great. Antony must put as much space between him and Caesar as possible or face certain defeat.
Antony dismisses him and wants to hear no more, but privately admits that the Soothsayer is probably right. He decides to return to Cleopatra.
Act II, Scene 4
Then men folk prepare for war.
Act II, Scene 5
Cleopatra wants music and good food. She wants to play billiards, but Charmian’s arm is too tired. Cleopatra asks the eunuch to play with her. Then, she reminisces on the times she fished with Antony and had such fun.
A messenger comes in with bad news. First, Cleopatra assumes Antony is dead or an enemy of Caesar. The messenger assures her that is not the case, but he is married. Cleopatra immediately loses her cool and threatens to stab him. He runs away. She calls him back to hear it from him again, but he’s nervous. She scolds him for delivering the bad news. He finally admits to her again that Antony is married. Cleopatra again falls into anger and despair. The messenger leaves again.
Cleopatra asks Alexas to find out exactly what Octavia looks like. She has her ladies take her to her room to comfort her.