Does Antony really love Cleopatra?
At the very start of Antony & Cleopatra we are told by the Roman general's own men that Antony is "not himself" because he is under the influence of Cleopatra's "witchcraft." We are soon shown that Cleopatra can easily manipulate Antony, and even after his marriage to Caesar's sister, Antony feels the pull of Cleopatra and the pleasures of the East. But as for Antony's loving Cleopatra, his distrust of the Egyptian queen simply does not square with a traditional notion of romantic love. After the defeat of their allied forces, Antony naturally assumes that Cleopatra will enter into some type of deal with Augustus. Hoisted into her bedchamber with a mortal wound, Antony first gives Cleopatra advice on Roman politics, telling her to trust Procleus. This is a gesture of concern but hardly a profession of enduring love. Antony's then directs Cleopatra to think of him as he was at the apex of his glory. His dying words have nothing whatsoever to do with his lover. Instead, Antony remarks that he has been "valiantly vanquished" by a fellow Roman. If anything, Antony moves from infatuation with Cleopatra toward self-absorption.