Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene 7



As the scene opens on Pompey's galley, the servants are getting ready for the feast; and they gossip among themselves, joking that the three Romans are already well on the way to becoming drunk. They have been taking turns pouring part of their wine into Lepidus's glass, and he is getting even more intoxicated than the others, and he doesn't even realize that they are amusing themselves with jokes at his expense.

Caesar and Antony lose no opportunity to taunt each other, a situation which the drunken Lepidus ineptly tries to reconcile. Here again, the servants comment shrewdly that it is a sorry fact that although Lepidus is one of the triumvirs (and theoretically one of the most powerful men in the world), he is really only a figurehead. The other two triumvirs have no respect for his opinions nor for his ability as a leader; rather, they see his role as no more than that of a bit player in a major drama; he balances their power, and he serves as a buffer to prevent the worst effects of their rivalry.


Act II ends on a rather light note, but once again the theme of excess is repeated. It might also be noted that excess and indulgence are not inherent vices of the Egyptians, as the Romans would like to think. They are states of mind, attitudes, and choices that can exist anywhere, as the party aboard Pompey's barge illustrates.