Antony and Cleopatra | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Antony and Cleopatra | Scene Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • c. 41 BCE

    Antony and Cleopatra begin their affair, with Antony spending time in Alexandria.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Some years later

    Antony reluctantly goes to Rome to deal with his wife's death, Caesar's scorn, and political unrest.

    Act 1, Scene 3
  • Soon after

    For political expediency and Caesar's trust, newly widowed Antony marries Octavia.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Soon after

    Antony and Octavia leave for Athens, where he will rule the eastern part of the Empire.

    Act 3, Scene 2
  • Some time later

    Octavia returns to Rome to try easing tensions between Antony and Caesar.

    Act 3, Scene 4
  • About the same time

    Breaking a recent treaty, Pompey and Caesar battle, ending with Pompey dead and Lepidus jailed.

    Act 3, Scene 5
  • About the same time

    Antony has returned to Egypt and his old ways, abandoning Octavia and angering Caesar.

    Act 3, Scene 6
  • Not long after

    With relations worsening, Antony decides, against advice, to confront Caesar at sea.

    Act 3, Scene 7
  • At the same time

    Cleopatra encourages the sea battle, offering Antony her ships and her help.

    Act 3, Scene 7
  • Soon after, in 31 BCE

    Overwhelmed in battle, Cleopatra retreats, with Antony following and abandoning his men.

    Act 3, Scene 10
  • After the battle

    Cleopatra rejects Caesar's proposal she leave Antony for him.

    Act 3, Scene 13
  • Months later

    As Antony and Caesar prepare for battle, Enobarbus regretfully deserts Antony.

    Act 4, Scene 5
  • Very soon after

    Redeeming himself as a general, Antony wins a land battle against Caesar.

    Act 4, Scene 7
  • That night

    Antony misjudges and prepares for a battle at sea the next day.

    Act 4, Scene 10
  • The next day, 30 BCE

    Overconfident, Antony loses to Caesar at sea, believing Cleopatra has betrayed him.

    Act 4, Scene 12
  • After the battle

    Puzzled by Antony's rage against her, Cleopatra hides in her mausoleum.

    Act 4, Scene 13
  • That night

    Antony mistakenly believes Cleopatra is dead and tries unsuccessfully to kill himself.

    Act 4, Scene 14
  • Moments later

    Learning Cleopatra is alive, Antony, mortally wounded, is taken to her, where he dies in her arms.

    Act 4, Scene 14
  • August, 30 BCE

    Rather than be Caesar's prisoner, Cleopatra dresses regally and kills herself by snake bites.

    Act 5, Scene 2
  • That day after her death

    Caesar arrives, somewhat moved, and decrees she and Antony will be buried together in Egypt.

    Act 5, Scene 2

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 The play begins in a room in Cleopatra's palace in Alexandria, Egypt, in the middle of a conversation between two of Ant... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 It is evening, and several of Cleopatra's attendants are gathered in another room of the palace. Charmian teasingly asks... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 Cleopatra fretfully dispatches Alexas to track Antony down, warning him not to tell Antony she sent him. "If you find hi... Read More
Act 1, Scene 4 In Rome Caesar is reading a letter as he walks with Lepidus and their retinue. The letter's contents clearly irritate Ca... Read More
Act 1, Scene 5 Back in Alexandria, Cleopatra is suffering without Antony. She wishes she could drink mandragora, a poison to make her s... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 In his house in Messina, Pompey is strategizing with Menas and Menecrates. If the gods are just, says Pompey, they'll re... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Lepidus is urging Enobarbus to ask Antony not to "stir up embers" by arguing with Caesar. Enobarbus replies he'll ask An... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 Antony and Caesar enter, Octavia walking between them. Antony and Octavia exchange a few words of decorous love, and Ant... Read More
Act 2, Scene 4 Lepidus suggests Maecenas and Agrippa go on their way; battle calls. Agrippa answers they're waiting for Antony to say g... Read More
Act 2, Scene 5 Cleopatra finds herself at loose ends. First she demands to hear music; then changes her mind and wants to play billiard... Read More
Act 2, Scene 6 In Italy Pompey and Caesar agree to a truce rather than go to battle. Grievances are aired and threats made. Pompey want... Read More
Act 2, Scene 7 The banquet aboard Pompey's ship is under way. Servants enter carrying an abundance of wine and gossiping about the gues... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Ventidius, one of Antony's lieutenants, enters behind a procession of soldiers carrying the body of Pacorus of Parthia. ... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 Agrippa and Enobarbus enter separately. Enobarbus says Pompey has left already and the members of the triumvirate are si... Read More
Act 3, Scene 3 In Alexandria Cleopatra asks her attendants, "Where is the fellow?" She is referring to the messenger she sent to get a ... Read More
Act 3, Scene 4 In Greece, Antony is complaining to Octavia about Caesar. Antony is convinced Caesar is plotting against him. Despite th... Read More
Act 3, Scene 5 Enobarbus and Eros discuss war news. Eros reports Caesar and Lepidus, who defeated Pompey together, have fallen out. Cae... Read More
Act 3, Scene 6 In Rome, Caesar is railing against Antony's latest actions. Antony has established Cleopatra as absolute monarch of Egyp... Read More
Act 3, Scene 7 In Alexandria Cleopatra berates Enobarbus for having said she shouldn't join the war. She's the ruler and believes she s... Read More
Act 3, Scene 8 Caesar and his lieutenant, Taurus, march in with their army. Caesar orders Taurus not to strike by land before the navy ... Read More
Act 3, Scene 9 Antony and Enobarbus enter. They are outside, presumably in a position from which they can view the harbor. Antony annou... Read More
Act 3, Scene 10 Amid the sounds of a sea battle, Canidius and his ground forces leave the stage in one direction while Taurus and his fo... Read More
Act 3, Scene 11 Deeply shamed, Antony enters with some of his attendants. The land, he says, "is ashamed to bear me." He urges them to t... Read More
Act 3, Scene 12 Caesar, Agrippa, Thidias, and Dolabella are waiting for Antony's ambassador. Dolabella comments on Antony's choice of th... Read More
Act 3, Scene 13 A doleful and confused Cleopatra enters with Enobarbus, Charmian, and Iras. "What shall we do?" Cleopatra asks Enobarbus... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 Caesar, Agrippa, and Maecenas enter. Antony's letter has annoyed Caesar, partly because Antony treats him like a child a... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 Antony, Cleopatra, Enobarbus, Charmian, Iras, and "others" enter. When Antony asks why Caesar has refused to fight him, ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 Some soldiers enter and settle themselves for the night watch. One asks another if he's heard a strange rumor but won't ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 4 Early the next morning Antony calls for Eros to bring his armor. Cleopatra does her best to help Eros dress Antony for b... Read More
Act 4, Scene 5 As Antony and Eros head for the port, Antony admits regret over not having fought on land. A soldier meets them and brea... Read More
Act 4, Scene 6 Caesar orders Agrippa to begin the fight and to capture Antony alive if possible. As Agrippa leaves, Caesar exults, "The... Read More
Act 4, Scene 7 Against a background of battle noises, Agrippa enters with some of Caesar's soldiers and calls for retreat. Caesar is st... Read More
Act 4, Scene 8 Antony, Scarus, and some others enter. Antony's army has forced Caesar's to retreat to their camp. Antony orders a soldi... Read More
Act 4, Scene 9 A sentry from Caesar's army enters with other guards. Enobarbus follows them unnoticed. The sentry says that unless he a... Read More
Act 4, Scene 10 Antony, Scarus, and their army enter. Antony comments today's battle will be by sea because Caesar's army fared so poorl... Read More
Act 4, Scene 11 Caesar tells his army Antony expects a sea battle and has therefore manned his ships with his best fighters. It is unlik... Read More
Act 4, Scene 12 Antony and Scarus enter. Wondering why Caesar's navy hasn't begun fighting, Antony looks for a better vantage point. Lef... Read More
Act 4, Scene 13 Cleopatra enters with her female attendants and Mardian. She begs their help against Antony's insane fury. Charmian sugg... Read More
Act 4, Scene 14 Alone with Eros, Antony describes different cloud shapes. Sometimes they look like dragons, sometimes like rocks, someti... Read More
Act 4, Scene 15 Cleopatra and her retinue wait fearfully in the monument for Diomedes to return. When he arrives, he tells Cleopatra to ... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 Caesar, Agrippa, Dolabella, Maecenas, Gallus, and Proculeius are holding a war council when Dercetus arrives with Antony... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 Inside the monument, Cleopatra tells Charmian and Iras Caesar has no control over their fate. True control of one's fort... Read More
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