In the play "Antony and Cleopatra," does Cleopatra betray Antony?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In Act III of the play, Antony and Cleopatra are fighting Octavian, now called Caesar Augustus, for control of the eastern Roman Empire. Their fleet has been destroyed, and now they face imprisonment or execution. Caesar meets with Antony's ambassador and tells him that Cleopatra will be rewarded if she hands Antony over to him.

In Act III, scene 13, Antony has learned that Cleopatra plans to lay down her crown at Caesar's feet and let him decide Egypt's fate.

Most kind messenger,
Say to great Caesar this:--in deputation
I kiss his conquring hand: tell him I am prompt
To lay my crown at's feet, and there to kneel:
Tell him, from his all-obeying breath I hear
The doom of Egypt.

Antony assumes that she has betrayed him, but she doesn't agree to hand him over. In fact, when he accuses her, she argues with him:

To flatter Caesar, would you mingle eyes
With one that ties his points?

Not know me yet?

Cold-hearted toward me?

Ah, dear, if I be so,
From my cold heart let heaven engender hail,
And poison it in the source; and the first stone
Drop in my neck: as it determines, so
Dissolve my life! The next Caesarion smite!
Till, by degrees, the memory of my womb,
Together with my brave Egyptians all,
By the discandying of this pelleted storm,
Lie graveless,--till the flies and gnats of Nile
Have buried them for prey!


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