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Antony and Cleopatra | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Antony and Cleopatra | Act 4, Scene 5 | Summary



As Antony and Eros head for the port, Antony admits regret over not having fought on land. A soldier meets them and breaks the news Enobarbus has left Antony's service for Caesar's. Hearing Enobarbus has left his possessions and treasure behind, Antony orders everything belonging to Enobarbus be sent to him, along with a letter containing "gentle adieus and greetings" and with the wish Enobarbus will never again feel the need to serve another master. Then he cries out his bad luck has corrupted even honorable men.


Antony's change in demeanor makes him more sympathetic than he was in the last act. Coping with the loss at Actium has brought out unexpected grace and now shows him as a highly honorable individual and loyal friend despite the circumstances. The most well-adjusted general might be upset to learn his aide-de-camp has deserted. But Antony's instinctive reaction is to take care of his friend. "O, my fortunes have / Corrupted honest men," he sighs, holding himself responsible for the latest defection. This is the way a commander should act, and Antony's actions redeem him here, although they come too late to save him.

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