The scene opens in Athens, in the middle of a conversation between Antony and Octavia. Apparently they have been discussing the recent activities of Caesar, and Octavia defends Caesar; she urges Antony not to take offense at what Caesar might have said about him. Caesar is preparing for war, and Antony tells Octavia that he too must prepare, and that his preparations will overshadow those of her brother. He encourages his wife to return to Rome, presumably to act as a mediator and reduce the growing hostility between Caesar and Antony.
This brief scene highlights the fact that Octavia is trying to be a peacemaker between her brother and Antony. She will not succeed, and the urgency with which Antony insists that she should go to Rome makes one question his motives. It is almost certain that he is anxious to rendezvous in Alexandria with Cleopatra.