Philo, one of Antonys loyal friend and partner in war, has seen Antony going from one respectable soldier to then abandoning his everything about the empire upon meeting Cleopatra. He is not confident into which category Antony fits into. (5. 1) Many roles are played by Antony; therefore we see different sides of the argument. Antony can claim greatness for serving the needs of his country and his empire as fighter and as a leader. He can be seen as equal as Caesar, as he commits suicide, seen as a honourable thing to do. Antonys once loyal and heroic background all changes when he comes across Cleopatra.
A once great military reader is now in decline due to her charm and bewitching nature. The first sign we see this occurring is when Philo says the temple pillar of the world transformed into the strumpets fool (1. 1). In differences between Roman and Alexandrian ways of life has a big influence on Antonys behaviour and each view of Antonys taints and honours very differently. Shakespeare could be seen as using shock tactics to challenge the audiences of the time such as Antonys suicide, which is a grave crime for the Protestant religions of that period.
Different audiences will tend to view Antonys behaviour differently. Philo complains that Antony has abandoned the military endeavours. Antony was the military hero and disciplined statesman, but seems to have happily abandoned his reason in order to pursue his passion. He himself says, here I am Antony, yet cannot hold this visible shape (4. 14). He, right after this, declares that, let in Tiber melt and the wide arch of the ranged empire fall! (1. 1) Therefore, at this early stage, on the evidence provided, the audiences have already seen how badly Antony has switched to another side of himself.
They now are aware that his taints now far outweigh his past honours in Roman eyes. Antony tried very hard to fight the conflict between public duty and private life. The fist such example one sees when Antony returns to Rome to fight against Pompey, as Antony describes it, Our quick remove from hence(1. 2). This sense of duty creates anxiety for Cleopatra, as in the following scene we see her asking Alexas for his whereabouts, see where he is, whos with him, what he does. Antony falsely marries Octavia, thus bringing in another woman between Cleopatra and Fulvia adding to the conflict getting in the way of his public duty.
Antony attempts to be honourable and duty bound by saying, read not my blemishes in the worlds report but quickly turns to his private desires. Though I make this marriage for my peace/in the east my pleasure lies. It may see honourable that marrying her to ensure political peace between Caesar and taking pressure off Rome, but knowing between Octavia and Antony, it was never a true wedding of love; but for convenience. Cleopatra still dominated his mind. Early into the marriage they have already come into a dispute, where Antony finally shows his true feelings.
Octavia says, the Jove of power make me, most weak, most weak, your reconciler! Antony responds harshly, by saying, turn your displeasure that way, can never be so equal that your love can equally move with them(3. 4). Antony from this point on, is already considering moving back to Egypt to be re-united with Cleopatra. The suggestiJulius Caesaron to Antony of Octavias hand in marriage comes as a welcome escape form the recent verbal battle against Julius Caesar. A sister that he declares, loves so dearly was ultimately sacrificed for the sake of political expediency.
Caesars dogmatic belief that this will, join our kingdoms and our hearts clearly ignores the meaning of true love and passion. Due to Antonys separation with Octavia for Cleopatra makes the relationship between Caesar and Antony much worse. Being his sister, he is personally appalled in their parting. It also indicates the true love between Cleopatra and Antony, regardless of politics or the triumvirate. This factor leads to the war between them and Antonys downfall. As Enobarbus says, Cleopatra is a woman of infinite variety(2. 2) Antony does move very frequently between Western and Eastern more than any other character in the play.
Shakespeare could be emphasising this even further by using them for the importance of the difference between the Rome and the Alexandria ways of life. This could be significant for judgement to the question- if they are very different, the audience will not understand the how honourable or selflessness he is. However, if they are similar, the spectators can have something to relate to, (in one case the Pride of the Royal Family, their Army, and at the time Charles I. ) The Rome and Alexandrian ways of life are very similar. Both in the play, there is regimentation- Roman uniform in the first Act indicates dull, monotonous, plain.
It has been described as “files and musters”(1. 1), meaning ordered formations. There is a strong feeling of power present throughout the play. In Antony and Cleopatra’s case, it is in the form of the Triumvirate- Antony, Caesar, and Lepidus. One part of the three, Antony has been described as one of the triple pillars of the world”-Pillars, being a powerful word- usually used to represent a city or realm, the audience can look upon Antony even less honourable and respectable. By the end of Act 3, it is clear that there is a feeling of disapproval and tension between the once leader Antony and current powerful general Caesar.
Antony, in considers him as a His coins ships, legions maybe a cowards(3. 13). He emphasises that he is a soldier in decline ( And answer me in decline, sword against sword ourselves alone, Ill write it), making it clear of his bitter disliking of him. This could have been created by the influence she has over him. She also has influenced his loathing of Octavia by her good looks, attractiveness, and charisma. This shows his complete lack of judgement as a once great military leader, and resorts to childish and immature one to one physical combat.
Caesar, now overtaking Antonys once great stature, consequently laughs at his offer. It is now obvious that there is a clear hatred of each other, as well as his naivety and his loss of control. In 3. 11(v. 10-20), it is apparent that he has fallen down a new low. The extent of Antonys present shame is indicated by the by the prolonged and emphatic now. He contemplates suicide and encourages the soldiers to leave. Again he admits, My very hairs do mutiny/Nay do so;(for soldiers to leave) for indeed I have lost command (to empire and past honours) There are further conflicts that result from joint hatred of each other.
It can be seen that Caesar can be representing the future of Rome, and Antony could be representing his past, eroding heroism and guidance. Antony is astonished at Caesars speed of capturing Turin. There is still the question of what makes Antony honourable. For example, as Antony prepares to meet Caesar in battle, he determines that, he will live/bathe his dying honour to death. The play bares out this assertion since although Antony and Cleopatra will kill themselves, but for different reasons. They both imagine that the act will invest them with honour.
In death, Antony returns to his previous identity as a true, noble Roman, becoming, a Roman by a Roman/valiantly vanquished(4. 16), while Cleopatra resolves to, bury him and then whats brave, whats noble/lets do it after the high roman fashion(4. 16) Both Antony and Cleopatra both secure honourable deaths by refusing to compromise their identities. A further image of a taint can be seen of in Antonys death, the inadequacy of the sword could reflect the abandonment of his Roman role of soldier and world conqueror, You [Cleopatra] were my conqueror, and that my sword made weak by my affection would obey it on all cause (3. ) effectively blaming her influence over him for his loss at war and ultimate downfall. Caesar was a once bitter enemy with Antony.
However, in the very final scenes of the play (5. 1-2), much is revealed of how praiseworthy he was. He refers to him as, top of all design/ and my mate in empire, friend and companion in front of war, the arm of mine own body The height of Caesars recognition of Antonys mark of distinction is when he declares that, where mine thoughts did kindle, with another reference to the stars.
Enobarbus says that, let Antony look over Caesars head, and speak as loud as Mars/Jupiter (2. In the beginning of the scene, as soon as Caesar enters with his council of war, we see that he immediately gets a sudden fright when Decretas gives him Antonys sword- it is a final reflection of the power that Antony held. Scarus witnesses that, the shirt of Nessus is upon me. Teach me, Alcides, thou mine ancestor, thy rage let me lodge Lichas on the horns of the moon (4. 12) In Shakespeares Julius Caesar, the sword that was loyal to Antony, once the symbol of Roman virtue and dominion, is now handled by Caesar and is described as, Sole sir o the world (5. 2, in Julius Caesar).
Therefore, after these events in this play, Antony regardless of his taints, is only remembered as a honourable figure. This dispute has mainly weighed on the positive side of Antony; the Alexandrian factor may prove otherwise. At Shakespeares time of writing, the people would have viewed him very differently. For example, in Protestant way of life, suicide of both Antony and Cleopatra was a religious sin and a civil crime. Thus, Shakespeare succeeds in creating a shock and a confrontation to the audience. This will already give Antony a bad name, negative role, and identity.
However Shakespeare first designed the play as, a tragedy. By indicating its dramatic genre, the audience will in the end see how Antony can be a hero serving his domain, country people and see to the extent his honourable death. The argument to what extent makes Antony honourable or not is extremely complex, with equal evidence on both sides. Antony as an honourable figure is backed up by his loyal soldiers at the very beginning by his closely followed friends in and out of war, Enobarbus and Philo, who speaks the quote, being two of his most trusted companions and followers.
However arguments against Antony is particularly from Cleopatra and Caesars attendants and servants. However Caesar, to a degree, did fully support Antony before his let in Tiber melt, Octavia and his hand to hand combat and in the end, declares this (5. 1). So, in conclusion, with the support of Enobarbus his loyal support and in the opposite ends of the time scale, Caesar, Antony is very much holds an admirable past rather than his apparent downfallen soldier he was.