An ashamed Antony addresses his followers, bidding them to leave him and look after their own interests. They are reluctant to do so. Cleopatra enters, and begs for Antony's forgiveness; although he is harsh with her at first, her unusual cowed-ness seems to win Antony over, and his love prevails. "Give me a kiss. [They kiss] Even this repays me."

Scene 12

Antony's ambassador, his old schoolmaster, asks the victorious Caesar if Antony will be permitted to live in Egypt. If this request is denied, he wishes to be allowed to live "a private man in Athens". The ambassador also says that Cleopatra submits to Caesar, but pleads that Egypt remain ruled by her line, the Ptolemies. Caesar shows no compassion: "I have no ears to his request". If Cleopatra sends Antony away, or kills him, then he might listen to her request. The ambassador departs, and Caesar bids his man Thidias go to do secret dealings with Cleopatra, in an attempt to humiliate the Antony even further by persuading her to betray him. If any doubt regarding Caesar's character is still in the audience's minds, this speech shows him to be totally merciless.

Scene 13

Cleopatra's court: Enobarbus, who is steadily growing disillusioned with Antony and Cleopatra, witnesses Thidias tempt her to betray Antony and side with the conquering Caesar:

"[Caesar] knows that you did embrace not Antony
As you loved, but as you feared him" (Thidias)

Cleopatra responds with "Oh!", a highly unusual phrase in Shakespeare which could be interpreted as anguish and affront, since to agree would be to undermine their whole relationship, or as relief, that the Romans are willing for her to save herself, albeit at the expense of Antony. Her response, a few lines later, shows that her instinct towards self- preservation has conquered her love, or at least that she is prepared to deny her love for Antony for the sake of bargaining with Caesar:

"He is a god and knows
What is most right. Mine honour was not yielded
But conquered merely." (Cleopatra)

Her betrayal of Antony continues as she calls Caesar "great" and allows Thidias to kiss her hand... Suddenly Antony bursts in, interrupting his lover in the process of flirting with the enemy. He is furious, and sends Thidias off to be whipped, calling Cleopatra "kite" (whore). Enobarbus makes an aside deploring the situation.

Antony continues to insult Cleopatra, listing her previous lovers, the late Caesar, Gnaeus Pompey, and however many others "unregistered". He rants about how he has been cuckolded by her, calling himself part of the roaring "horned herd", and proclaims his fortune, his "good stars" have left him and "shot their fires/ Into th' abysm of hell. Once he begins to be more calm, Cleopatra has a chance to defend herself. She totally contradicts what she has said to Thidias, by swearing her sincere love for him, inviting poisoned hail to "smite" herself, her heirs and the people of Egypt should she be "cold hearted" toward him. Her one strong speech, with its violent imagery and hyperbole, seems to be enough to win Antony over: "I am satisfied". They are reconciled, and he prepares to revel through the night "Let's have one other gaudy night", and to make a last brave stand against the Romans "We will yet do well". However, the scene does not end on this positive note, but with Enobarbus' melancholy soliloquy. He sees the whole situation as doomed, for the first time doubting their love and seeing Cleopatra as a traitor. He resolves to desert "I will seek/ Some way to leave him."

  By PanEris using Melati.

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