Act IVScene 1
Caesar, with all the assurance of expected victory, laughs at Antony's challenge of personal combat. His aide Maecenus says that Antony is now vulnerable because he is angry, a view typical of Roman repression. Caesar instructs Maecenus that the men who have deserted Antony and come to fight for them instead should be place at the front of their ranks in order to demoralize Antony further; a creul and calculating tactic. He then states that the army should be feasted, except in a very different way to Antony's preceeding rash liberality: "We have store to do't / And they have earned the waste."
This scene is a kind of last supper for Antony, where he commends those who have been loyal to him. He seems to temporarily regain his former dignity, and the men complain that he is making them weep. Cleopatra either does not understand the whole male ritual, or cannot, unlike the others, see that their chances of success in the battle are minimal ("What means this?").
A very sinister, portentous scene, set at nightfall outside Cleopatra's palace where the guards are patrolling. The soldiers begin by exchanging slightly forced optimistic comments about the approaching battle, but then a mournful and mysterious noise interrupts them. They interpret it as the noise of the god Hercules, Antony's guiding spirit and reputed ancestor, abandoning him. The soldiers find it deeply unnerving and the fact that they choose to interpret it as a bad omen shows their lack of confidence.
Cleopatra, it seems, never learns. On the morning of the deciding battle Antony is calling for his armour, but she is saying "Sleep a little". However, she soon tries to help him prepare for the fight, and bids him and his men farewell. Antony is still full of dignity: "I'll leave thee/ Now like a man of steel."
Just as Antony is embarking for the battle, news is brought to him that Enobarbus has abandoned him. Antony responds benevolently, sending his belongings on after him and blaming himself - "Oh, my fortunes have / Corrupted honest men"
Caesar instructs that Antony be captured alive; although he proclaims that "the time of universal peace is near" we suspect that this is propaganda and that Caesar intends to taunt the live and vanquished Antony. Enobarbus, now in no-man's land between camps, is informed of Antony's generosity to him, and disgraced by his act of calumny in the face of bounty, determines to commit suicide.
Antony and Scarus, who is wounded, exchange spirited words in the midst of the battle. Antony will reward his for his "good valour".
Antony returns in victory, praising his men. He calls Cleopatra "Oh thou day of the world" and he is her "Lord of lords!". (not that their private relationship seems to correspond with their public successes / failures). Antony says that the victory indicates that their old age can outwit Caesar's boyishness; "[we] can get goal for goal with youth". Scarus is introduced to Cleopatra as a new feted warrior, and it is implied he is replacing Enobarbus. Their celebrations are to be loud "Trumpeters, with brazen din blast you the city's ear", and perhaps hubristic.
The Roman sentries are discussing the battle, calling is not devastating but only "shrewd". They then notice Enobarbus, (though of course they don't recognize him) and listen to him as all alone he asks the moon to witness his repentance. He asks the night to poison him "That life, a very rebel to my will/ May hang no longer on me." He appears to die by strength of will rather than any physical cause, and the Romans drag his body away.
"I would they'd fight i'th'fire or i'th'air
Antony responds in a wildly aggressive way to Scarus' question of whether to fight by sea or land, his phrase belying the fact that his judgement is skewed. It also indictes that Antony is not really of human elements any more, but living on borrowed time.
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