Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare
Edited, fully annotated, and introduced by Burton Raffel
With an essay by Harold Bloom
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Antony and Cleopatra
    Book Description:

    The Annotated Shakespeare series enables today's readers to understand and enjoy the plays of the world's greatest dramatist. Comprehensive on-page annotations assist with vocabulary, pronunciation, prosody, and alternative readings of phrases and lines in these handsome and affordable paperback editions.

    In no other play has Shakespeare created two such equally titanic personages as Rome's great soldier and statesman Mark Antony and the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. The story of their irresistible attraction, their jealous quarrels and betrayals, and the effects on friends and subjects of their ruinous choices is a tale leading irretrievably to despair and defeat. Their suicides, however, strike us as a kind of triumph. Shakespeare stood at the height of his powers when he penned this great tragedy, one of the last he produced.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15030-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xxxiv)

    The two plays immediately precedingAntony and Cleopatra, in the now reasonably well established canon of Shakespeare’s plays, are two of the grandest dramas in the world’s stage history,MacbethandKing Lear. Like them,Antony and Cleopatra(dating from 1606 to 1607) is a tragedy. Unlike them, it presents a panoramically broad portrait that includes an unusually large number of characters, figures ranging from very great to very small indeed.

    A cast’s size, of course, does not in and of itself determine dramatic structure or even narrative pace. InAntony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare has deployed a large cast to...

    (pp. xxxv-xxxviii)
  6. Antony and Cleopatra
    • Act 1
      (pp. 3-37)

      PhiloNay, but this dotage¹ of our general’s²

      O’erflows the measure.³ Those his goodly⁴ eyes

      That o’er the files and musters⁵ of the war

      Have glowed like plated⁶ Mars, now bend, now turn

      The office⁷ and devotion of their view

      Upon⁸ a tawny front.⁹ His captain’s10heart,

      Which in the scuffles11of great fights hath burst

      The buckles on his breast,12reneges13all temper,14

      And is become the bellows15and the fan

      To cool a gypsy’s16lust.

      Take but good note, and you shall see in him

      The triple pillar18of the world transformed

      Into a strumpet’s19fool. Behold and...

    • Act 2
      (pp. 38-81)

      PompeyIf the great gods be just, they shall assist

      The deeds of justest men.

      MenecratesKnow, worthy Pompey,

      That what they do delay, they not deny.

      PompeyWhiles we are suitors to their throne, decays

      The thing we sue for.

      MenecratesWe, ignorant of ourselves,

      Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers

      Deny us for our good. So find we profit

      By losing of our prayers.

      PompeyI shall do well.

      The people love me, and the sea is mine.

      My powers are crescent,¹ and my auguring² hope

      Says it will come to the full. Mark Antony...

    • Act 3
      (pp. 82-129)

      VentidiusNow darting² Parthia art thou stroke,³ and now

      Pleased fortune does of Marcus Crassus’ death⁴

      Make me revenger. Bear the king’s son’s body

      Before our army. Thy Pacorus, Orodes,⁵

      Pays this for Marcus Crassus.

      SiliusNoble Ventidius,

      Whilst yet with Parthian blood thy sword is warm,

      The fugitive Parthians follow.⁶ Spur⁷ through Media,⁸

      Mesopotamia, and the shelters whither

      The routed⁹ fly. So thy grand captain Antony

      Shall set thee on triumphant chariots and

      Put garlands on thy head.

      VentidiusO Silius, Silius,

      I have done enough. A lower place (note well)

      May make too great an act. For learn...

    • Act 4
      (pp. 130-173)

      Caesar(reading a letter) He calls me boy, and chides, as¹ he had


      To beat me out of Egypt. My messenger

      He hath whipped with rods, dares me to personal combat.

      Caesar to Antony: let the old ruffian² know

      I have many other ways to die. Meantime

      Laugh at his challenge.

      MaecenasCaesar must think,

      When one so great begins to rage, he’s hunted

      Even to falling. Give him no breath, but now

      Make boot³ of his distraction. Never⁴ anger

      Made good guard⁵ for itself.

      CaesarLet our best heads⁶

      Know that tomorrow the last of many battles


    • Act 5
      (pp. 174-200)

      CaesarGo to him Dolabella, bid him yield.

      Being so frustrate, tell him he mocks

      The pauses that he makes.

      DolabellaCaesar, I shall.

      exit Dolabella

      enter Decretas, with Antony’s sword

      CaesarWherefore is that?¹ And what art thou that darest

      Appear thus to us?²

      DecretasI am called Decretas,

      Mark Antony I served, who best was worthy

      Best to be served.³ Whilst he stood up and spoke,

      He was my master, and I wore⁴ my life

      To spend upon his haters. If thou please

      To take me to thee, as I was to him

      I’ll be to Caesar. If...

    (pp. 201-206)

    Freud taught us that the therapy-of-therapies is not to invest too much libido in any single object whosoever. Antony at last refuses this wisdom and in consequence suffers what must be called an erotic tragedy, but then Cleopatra, who has spent her life exemplifying the same wisdom, suffers an erotic tragedy also, on Antony’s account, one act of the drama more belatedly than he does.The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatrais unique among Shakespeare’s plays in that the tragedy’s doubleness, equal in both man and woman as it was with Romeo and Juliet, takes place between equally titanic personages....

    (pp. 207-212)
    (pp. 213-215)