Notes on Antony and Cleopatra Themes

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Antony and Cleopatra Topic Tracking: Honor

Act 2

Honor 1: We discover here that the reason for Pompey's waging a war against Caesar, Antony, and Lepidus is a matter of honor. His father was murdered by Caesar, and Caesar was murdered by Brutus and Cassius, and Brutus and Cassius were defeated by the triumvirate, therefore the chain must continue, revenge must be had, and Pompey must defeat the triumvirate. This is his reasoning, although we can see that he is somewhat easily swayed by Caesar's promises of an alliance, and his honor is forgotten in favor of feasting and celebrating.

Act 3

Honor 2: Again we see honor enacted in revenge: Pacorus was killed because of the deeds of his father, the King of Parthia. Ventidius, however, does not want too much recognition for this honorable deed, for it is more honorable for him to bend to Antony and have his actions honor Antony rather than drawing attention to himself.

Honor 3: Antony is very reasonable on the subject of his new wife's loyalty. He tells Octavia that he must fight Caesar to restore the honor that Caesar has taken away from him by saying bad things about him and fighting against his allies; he tells her she must choose who is the more honorable and deserving of loyalty, he or her brother.

Honor 4: Antony completely loses all honor in this battle; as a general, the worst thing one can do is to flee when caught in a tough battle. Not only did he flee, he also followed rather than led as Cleopatra's ships left the battle, thus losing not only honor as a military leader, but also as a man (following a woman rather than commanding her).

Honor 5: Antony compares his recent actions to Octavius Caesar's in the battle of Philippi; in that battle, Caesar stood idly by as Antony fought honorably. In this one, however, his dishonor far surpasses Caesar's actions at Philippi.

Act 4

Honor 6: Having proved himself a dishonorable, disloyal traitor, Enobarbus reasons that the only thing left for him to do is die. He ponders how honorable Antony has proved to be, sending him gifts even when he has deserted him at his hour of need: what greater reward would there have been were he to have stayed with him? Now, however, he cannot undo what he has done, and he will ask, as he is dying, for Antony to forgive him, and for the world to remember him as a traitor.

Act 5

Honor 7: Now that Antony is dead, Cleopatra has nothing else to live for. She acknowledges his death as noble, and she knows that she must now do the same as he did, and end her life honorably rather than lose all honor and succumb to Caesar. She hopes that Antony is watching her perform this act, and calls to him to watch her noble death and to wait for her in the afterlife.

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