Antony and Cleopatra Act 2, Scene 2
In Rome, Lepidus asks Enobarbus to encourage Antony to be civil to Caesar. Enobarbus answers that he will only encourage Antony to be himself; if Caesar angers him, he should respond. Lepidus says that small arguments should give way to more important matters and asks Enobarbus not to stir up trouble.
Antony enters in conversation with Ventidius, and at another door, Caesar enters with Maecenas and Agrippa. Lepidus speaks to them both, asking them to put aside small differences in order to concentrate on the larger task at hand; Antony and Caesar greet each other and sit. Caesar says that the only reason Antony's being in Egypt would have offended him is if he were planning to overthrow him. He reminds him that both Antony's wife and his brother had fought against him. Antony protests that their grievances had nothing to do with him, and tells him that he was indeed conflicted because he was on Caesar's side. Caesar reminds him of the messenger he sent to Egypt that Antony threw out without hearing, but Antony defends himself, saying that the messenger burst in on him while he was drunk and not in any shape to listen to news. Caesar counters with the oath that Antony has broken by denying him aid when he needed it; Antony again protests that it was ignorance, and not malice, that prevented him from coming to his aid. Lepidus, Maecenas, and Enobarbus cut in to the conversation, urging Caesar and Antony to reconcile because the small quarrel they have is not as important as fighting against Pompey. When Enobarbus tells them that they can fight when they have nothing better to do, which is not the case now, Antony tells him to stay silent. Caesar says that if there were something that would reconcile their differences he would gladly pursue it, but believes their temperaments are simply too different to allow a friendship to thrive. Agrippa asks for permission to speak, and reminds Caesar of his sister, Octavia, and Antony's newly widowed state. Caesar quiets him, reminding him of Cleopatra's claim on Antony, but Antony tells Agrippa to go on. Agrippa says that a marriage between Octavia, whom he praises as very beautiful, and Antony would mend the friendship between the two men. Both Caesar and Antony agree to this, and they clasp hands.
The conversation turns to Pompey. He has been friendly to Antony lately, so Antony feels he must thank him, and then immediately after this, he will be free to plot against him. Pompey is in Misena now; his sea power is great, and his land power is getting stronger, and Antony worries about confronting him. Caesar takes Antony away so as to introduce him to Octavia, and Lepidus follows.
Agrippa and Maecenas, left by the triumvirs, welcome Enobarbus back to Rome and ask him about Egypt. He tells them about all the celebrating that took place in the East; sleeping during the day, drinking at night, and plenty of feasting. They beg him to tell them about Cleopatra, for she is quite a legend; he tells about the first time that she met Antony. She appeared on a great barge, decorated lavishly, with boys fanning her and her gentlewomen standing around her like sea nymphs. Her beauty was such that everyone wanted to look at her, even the air. Antony invited her to dinner, but she would rather he be her guest, and he accepted. Agrippa says that she made Julius Caesar lay down his sword to go to bed with her, and she bore him a son, and Enobarbus says that Antony will not leave her:
"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her, that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish." Act 2, Scene 2, ll. 245-250
She has such a charm that people cannot help but fall in love with her; and once they have seen her, they just want more. Maecenas hopes that Octavia will be able to fulfill Antony's desire. Agrippa invites Enobarbus to be his guest while he is in Rome.