Antony and Cleopatra minimized

Mark Antony defeated Brutus on the Plains of Philippi in 30 B.C., Antony having been a key aide to Julius Caesar; Caesar having been stabbed to death by Brutus and others in 32 B.C. Antony is part of the triumvirate (Octavius Caesar and Lepidus being the other parts) now running things in Rome. Antony spends time in Egypt with Cleopatra, as had both Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar earlier.

1. While in Alexandria, totally fascinated with Cleopatra, Antony learns that his wife Fulvia has died and that one of Pompey the Great’s sons is challenging Rome.  He must return to Rome, but telling Cleopatra of his plans and her hearing them are not easy exercises. She asks herself “if ever I loved Caesar so?”  Caesar had appointed her Queen of Egypt.

2.  Antony and Octavius Caesar meet in Rome, and it is not a pleasant meeting, Caesar not at all happy with Antony’s time away. Antony marries Caesar’s recently widowed sister, Octavia. We here learn an embellished story of the first time Antony laid eyes on Cleopatra.  A summit of sorts between Pompey and the triumvirate is held on Pompey’s vessel. Lepidus has too much to drink and is carried off.  Pompey’s aide suggests they “cut the throats of the three world-sharers.”  Pompey rejects the advice.

3.  Antony and Octavia leave for Athens.  She soon returns to Rome to reduce the tension between her brother and Antony. Caesar and Lepidus kill Pompey in a battle. Caesar has Lepidus imprisoned, for various reasons. Caesar now has Pompey’s navy; he consolidates his authority.  Antony returns to Alexandria. Antony and Egypt’s navy take on Caesar at sea.  They lose badly.  Caesar seeks to have Cleopatra drop Antony for him.  She won’t. 

4. Antony’s forces beat Caesar’s in a land battle.  An overconfident Antony again tries to beat Caesar at sea, and again loses.  He now believes Cleopatra has betrayed him. He lashes out at her.  She’s frightened by his actions and hides in a secret location.  Antony is mistakenly told that she has died. He tries to kill himself but fails. He is carried to her. They talk. He dies.

5. Caesar secretly plans to capture Cleopatra and parade her through the streets of Rome. She learns of his plans.  She has a countryman provide her and her aides with a basket of poisonous snakes.  As Caesar’s men close in on them, the ladies let the snakes bite them, all three dying promptly. Caesar honors Antony and Cleopatra, saying “no grave upon the earth shall clip in it a pair so famous.”