Notes on Characters from Antony and Cleopatra

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Antony and Cleopatra Major Characters

Mark Antony: One of the triumvirs of Rome. He has an unstable relationship with Caesar, and spends most of his time in Egypt with his mistress, Cleopatra, with whom he is in love. After marrying Caesar’s sister and abandoning her, the two men battle against each other; Antony loses the first sea battle dishonorably because he fled, and many of his men desert him to go to Caesar’s side in the second battle, which he blames on Cleopatra. Hearing a rumor of Cleopatra’s death, Antony tries to kill himself, but does not die instantly; he is awake long enough to be brought to Cleopatra, who is not truly dead, for one last reconciliation and to say goodbye.

Octavius Caesar: One of the triumvirs of Rome, and the adopted son of Julius Caesar. Holds Antony responsible for Antony’s brother and wife fighting against him, and disagrees with Antony’s spending most of his time in Egypt. He becomes Antony’s enemy when Antony, after marrying his sister, Octavia, deserts her to go back to Egypt and rule with Cleopatra. Caesar wins a battle against Antony at sea because Antony flees, and wins another because Antony’s former followers join him. After Antony commits suicide, Caesar tries to capture Cleopatra in order to make a military trophy out of her, humiliating her and making her bow to him, but she escapes him by committing suicide herself. Caesar, in one last noble gesture, agrees to bury the two lovers together and returns to Rome.

Lepidus: The third triumvir, along with Caesar and Antony. Although he does fight on Caesar’s side when the two men fight, he is generally the most neutral; he loves both Caesar and Antony, but eventually he is put in prison by Caesar for trying to make peace with Caesar’s enemy, Pompey. Several times he is compared to a woman, for he is not as strong a leader as either of the other two triumvirs, and seems to love each one so much that he cannot decide on an alliance.

Cleopatra: The Queen of Egypt; an unparalleled beauty, who once had a love affair with Julius Caesar and bore him a son, Caesarion. She is jealous, possessive, and fiercely loyal to Antony; though they fight often, whether it be her distrust of him or his distrust of her, they always come back to each other, as they are madly in love. When Antony blames her for making all of his soldiers desert him in favor of Caesar, she locks herself in a monument and sends word to him that she is dead so that she can see how he takes the news. He tries to commit suicide, and, still conscious, he is brought to her to say goodbye. After his death, she feels incomplete and will not allow his memory to be tarnished by serving Caesar, so she kills herself.

Domitus Enobarbus: A follower of Antony and a great soldier who has fought nobly in many battles. He has many moral debates with himself over the issue of whether or not to stay loyal to Antony; although Antony is noble and a good friend, he is losing the war against Caesar and Enobarbus does not want to be on the losing side. He resolves to stay with Antony several times, but eventually gives in and goes to Caesar’s camp. Realizing that he made a mistake and paying for it with a horrible guilt that overpowers him, Enobarbus eventually commits suicide.

Sextus Pompeius (Pompey): Son of Pompey the Great, he is at the beginning the greatest enemy of Caesar and Antony; however, he becomes their ally, and then is defeated by Caesar and Lepidus, and murdered by an officer. Antony had hoped to use him as an ally in the fight against Caesar, so he is therefore very upset with the officer that killed him.

messengers: Many different messengers are used in this play: as a way to get information from one camp to the other, to show the level of power commanded by the person who sends the messenger, and to bargain with enemies and friends.

Minor Characters

Philo: A friend and follower of Antony. He is disappointed that Antony has neglected his military duty in favor of lust.

Demetrius: A friend and follower of Antony. Along with Philo, he hopes that Antony will come to his senses and leave Egypt.

Fulvia: Antony’s wife at the start of the play. We never see her, but we hear that she has fought against Lucius, then joined him to fight against Caesar. She dies early in Act One.

Charmian: An attendant to Cleopatra. She serves her lady with much love and respect, and dies by the same method shortly after Cleopatra.

Alexas: An attendant to Cleopatra.

Soothsayer: A fortuneteller who predicts that Charmian will outlive Cleopatra and she and Iras will both be childless. Later, a Soothsayer predicts bad luck for Antony with respect to Caesar.

Iras: An attendant to Cleopatra; dies of heartache before Cleopatra.

Lucius: Antony’s brother. Fights against Caesar at the beginning of the play, causing a rift between Antony and Caesar.

Labienus: Does not appear in the action of this play; he had been sent by Brutus and Cassius to the King of Parthia to gain power against Antony and Octavius Caesar.

Menas: Friend of Pompey, has been victorious in many sea battles.

Menocrates: Notorious pirate and friend of Antony.

Mardian: A eunuch who serves Cleopatra. Eunuchs were used both for entertainment for royalty and as sexual partners (because they have been castrated, they cannot get a woman pregnant).

Julius Caesar: The great uncle and adopted father of Octavius Caesar. Along with Pompey the Great and Marcus Crassus, he ruled Rome as part of the first triumvirate.

Pompey the Great: Sextus Pompeius’s father, who was assassinated by Julius Caesar, his former co-triumvir.

Varrius: A follower of Pompey who brings the news that Antony is on his way to Rome.

Ventidius: A friend of Antony. Kills Pacorus to revenge Marcus Crassus’s death.

Maecenas: A follower of Caesar; wants Caesar to reconcile with Antony.

Agrippa: A follower of Caesar. Encourages the marriage between Antony and Octavia.

Octavia: Caesar’s sister. Said to be very beautiful but very cold, Antony marries her to make good relations with Caesar. This deal does not last, and before long, he is back with Cleopatra.

Brutus: Along with Cassius, assassinated Julius Caesar, then was defeated at Philippi by Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus.

Cassius: Helped Brutus assassinate Julius Caesar, and then was defeated by Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus.

Silius: Antony’s follower.

Pacorus: The son of Orodes, King of Parthia. He is killed by Ventidius as revenge for the murder of Marcus Crassus committed by his father.

Orodes: The King of Parthia, who murdered Marcus Crassus.

Marcus Crassus: Part of the first triumvirate, along with Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great.

Eros: A follower of Antony; stays with him until the very end, when Antony asks him to kill him; Eros cannot bear the thought, so he instead kills himself.

Alexander: One of Cleopatra’s sons.

Ptolemy: One of Cleopatra’s sons.

Canidius: A friend and follower of Antony.

Soldier: Warns Antony not to wage a sea battle against Caesar; this warning is not heeded and Antony loses. Later, the Soldier comes back, and he tells Antony that had he heeded the warning, many men would still be on Antony’s side that have gone over to Caesar’s.

Taurus: Caesar’s lieutenant.

Scarus: A follower of Antony.

Schoolteacher (Ambassador): Used as a messenger from Antony to Caesar after Antony loses the sea battle. It is a sign of Antony’s weakness that his messenger is a lowly Schoolteacher.

Dolabella: A follower of Caesar who takes pity on Cleopatra and not only tells her what he fears Caesar is to do to her, but also helps her commit suicide by sending for a Clown to bring her the asp.

Thidias: Sent as a messenger from Caesar to Cleopatra, to promise her anything so that she will give herself up. Antony catches word that Cleopatra has responded well to his offer, and comes in to see Thidias kissing Cleopatra’s hand. Antony flies into a rage and has Thidias whipped.

sentry and first watchman: While waiting for a battle to begin between Antony and Caesar, they eavesdrop on Enobarbus committing suicide. They then carry him off.

Dercetus: A follower of Antony; after he sees Antony wounded after falling on his sword, he takes the sword and goes to Caesar to show him.

Diomedes: An attendant to Cleopatra. She sends him to Antony to tell him the truth about her false death; she is not dead, she has locked herself in the monument to see how Antony would receive news of her death.

Proculeius: A follower of Caesar who tries to trick Cleopatra into cooperating, but to no avail.

Gallus: A follower of Caesar.

Seleucus: Cleopatra’s treasurer; he betrays her when she bids him tell Caesar that she has kept no treasure for herself.

Clown: Brings a basket of figs containing several asps at Cleopatra’s request, with which she kills herself.

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