Act 4, Scene 14 Notes from Antony and Cleopatra

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Antony and Cleopatra Act 4, Scene 14

Antony and Eros enter. Antony tells Eros about things which are not what they seem: clouds that take on strange shapes, for example, which are really nothing more than water and air. He believes himself to be such an apparition; he has fought battles for his love, the Queen of Egypt, and she has thanked him by betraying him to his worst enemy. The only thing left for him to do, he says, is to kill himself.

Mardian enters and Antony curses Cleopatra to him. Mardian defends her, saying that she loved him greatly and would never betray him; Antony insists that she should die, but Mardian says that a person can only die once, and that she has already paid that debt. When he realizes that Mardian is saying that Cleopatra is dead, Antony sends him off and wishes him safety for his pains. He begs Eros to take off his armor, and dismisses him. Alone, he decides that the only thing he can do is kill himself, since to live is to prolong the torture of being without Cleopatra. He calls Eros to return, and tells him that since he is living with such shame, it is only right to end everything; long ago, Eros had promised to do as he asked, and he asks now for Eros to kill him with his own sword. Eros can hardly believe he is being asked to do so, when so many men have tried to kill Antony and failed. Antony begs him to consider what life will mean, that he will be publicly humiliated by Caesar; Eros agrees that he would hate to see that, and asks Antony to turn away so that he does not have to see his face as he strikes with the sword. Antony does so, and gives the command; Eros stabs himself instead, and before dying has a chance to say that in this act he escapes witnessing Antony's death. Antony praises Eros as nobler than he himself is, and decides to do the deed himself. He falls on his sword.

Several guards and Dercetus enter; Antony pleads with them to finish what he has started and kill him, but none of them will. Dercetus takes the sword from Antony's body and goes to show it to Caesar. Diomedes, a follower of Cleopatra, enters and speaks to Antony. Cleopatra has sent him, and he tells Antony that she is alive, locked in the monument, and that she had a vision of what was happening; she wanted Diomedes to tell Antony the truth, that she had wanted to find out how he would take her death. Antony knows it is too late, but sends for his guards and asks them to take him to Cleopatra. They exit, carrying Antony.

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