Antony and Cleopatra By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act III: Scene 5

Summary

While Antony and Octavia, in Athens, discuss matters in one part of the house, Enobarbus and Eros (a friend of Antony) talk about recent events. Eros tells Enobarbus that as soon as Caesar and Lepidus defeated Pompey, Caesar turned on Lepidus and accused him of treachery. Lepidus now awaits death in a prison cell.

Enobarbus asks where Antony is, and Eros replies that he is in the garden and that he is angry about what has happened. Antony cries out in vain that Lepidus was a fool for submitting to Caesar; in addition, he mutters threats to kill the officer who murdered Pompey. At this point, Enobarbus is summoned by Antony, and the two men exit.

Analysis

Basically, this scene gives us an important piece of information about Lepidus, and, equally important, it shows us Antony's reaction to Lepidus's imprisonment. We are almost certain that the recent bond between Antony and Caesar has begun to crack. Clearly, Antony will not allow himself to be manipulated as easily by Caesar as Lepidus was. In addition, it seems as if Caesar is rapidly trying to consolidate his power. The outcome of the rivalry between these two fiery, ambitious triumvirs will ultimately depend on whether or not Antony can counter Caesar's strategies. It seems unlikely that he can; as we shall see, he does not. The singleness of purpose that is characteristic of Caesar (to the point of being a fault) is not a trait that Antony shares. Torn by his desire to spend his time with Cleopatra and his equally potent desire for power in Rome, Antony unfortunately hesitates too frequently and too long about what he will do.

The two lieutenants comment that Caesar and Antony are a couple of "chaps" (a pun meaning "fellows" and also "jaws") who will grind up men like food, themselves included. The truth of this observation will soon be revealed as Caesar, Antony, and Cleopatra become increasingly embroiled in their individual wars and intrigues.

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