In Act IV, scene i of Julius Caesar, what new image of Antony emerges?
2 Answers | Add Yours
From the chaotic ending of Act III to the opening of Act IV, Shakespeare makes what, in film, would be referred to as a jump cut. He jumps ahead in time and cuts to a meeting between the newly emerged Triumvirate that is fighting the armies of Brutus and Cassius for rule in Rome. The Triumvirate was a trio of men: Octavius Caesar (Julius Caesar's nephew and a new character in the play), Lepidus ( also a new character in the play) and Antony, and they are, in this scene, discussing their strategy. This scene is important for establishing the balance of power among the three.
The new image that emerges here of Antony, is how cold and unfeeling he can be in order to gain and maintain power. He is drawing up a "hit" list of the Roman senators that he believes should be executed because they do not favor his being in power. Shakespeare is using this scene to demonstrate that it isn't just the Conspirators who are willing to kill to prove that their position is correct. Shakespeare seems to be saying here that any man, even Antony (who seemed to be so emotional and concerned with the death of Caesar because he was a friend in Act III) can become cold and calculating when it comes to gaining and maintaining power.
And this cold, impersonal style doesn't just concern the Romans that he counts as enemies. When he has sent Lepidus off on an errand (as he might one of his servants), he confides to Octavius that he doesn't think Lepidus is the right man to share power with. He evaluates him as he would his horse, even comparing Lepidus to the animal. Antony says:
He must be taught and train'd and bid go forth;
A barren-spirited fellow. . .Do not talk of him
But as property.
And so it was that, ultimately, in the history of the Roman Empire, Lepidus would be out. This would leave Antony and Octavius to battle for sole rule of Rome. And, as Shakespeare dramatizes in his play Antony and Cleopatra, Antony will finally be defeated by Octavius, who is crowned Emeperor of Rome, the title feared and fought against by Brutus and Cassius in this play.
But for Act IV, scene i of Julius Caesar, Antony appears to be riding high, commanding his fellow leader (Lepidus) to run his errands and telling Octavius that he is too young to know better, and should listen to his (Antony's) wise counsel. This strong and domineering Antony is much changed from the Yes-Man who followed at Caesar's heels in the early Acts of the play.
In Act 4, Scene 1, we see that Antony (as part of the triumvirate) has gained full control of Rome. His decision to change Caesar's will in order to keep more money for their own purposes and to use Lepidus as a scapegoat, suggest that Antony is abusing his power, and has now become a cold and sly politician.
"Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine how to cut off some charges in legacies."
"..to ease ourselves of diver's slanderous loads.."
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes