Antony and Cleopatra By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act III: Scenes 8–10

Summary

This brief scene reveals the exchange between Caesar and his trusted lieutenant Taurus and establishes the fact that Caesar's army will indeed attack by sea, and that Caesar believes that this move will prove advantageous to his side: "Our fortune lies upon this jump," he boasts.

Antony and Enobarbus meet in an equally brief scene and plan to position their men so that they can see how many ships Caesar has sent and act accordingly.

Canidius with his armies and Taurus with his troops are seen briefly on the stage. They exit, and the audience hears offstage the noise of the battle at sea. Enobarbus and Scarus, another soldier, enter, and we learn that Antony's fleet has retreated. Scarus exclaims that because of Antony's ignorance they have lost their chance to be rulers of a segment (a cantle) of the empire. Scarus, in describing the battle, blames the defeat on the presence of Cleopatra. She retreated first ("like a cow in June"), and Antony followed her rather than staying to fight.

Canidius says that Antony has not lived up to his reputation; Canidius has decided to surrender to Caesar. While Enobarbus agrees with Canidius that Caesar will undoubtedly win, he vows to stay on with Antony, although the decision is against his better judgment.

Analysis

After Shakespeare has focused on Antony for several scenes, he now turns his attention to Caesar. Confident and proud, Caesar is convinced that victory awaits him.

It seems as though Antony is planning a defensive campaign because he decides to leave part of the land forces under Enobarbus's command.

Canidius says that Antony has not lived up to his reputation; Canidius has decided to surrender to Caesar. While Enobarbus agrees with Canidius that Caesar will undoubtedly win, he vows to stay on with Antony, although the decision is against his better judgment.

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