Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 461
Diomedes: attendent of Cleopatra
Decretas (Dercetus): friend of Mark Antony
Scene 13 takes place in Cleopatra’s palace. Cleopatra tells Charmian that Antony has gone insane. Indeed, this is a reasonable conclusion, considering the emotional manner in which Antony has been speaking. Then, at Charmian’s suggestion, she tells Mardian to tell Antony that she is dead and to report back to her, at her monument (which was built as her tomb), how Antony takes this news.
Scene 14 takes place on a promontory near Cleopatra’s palace, overlooking the battlefields and probably also the harbor where the sea battle took place. Antony discusses with Eros the tragedy of his defeat. Mardian arrives with (false) news that Cleopatra died with Antony’s name on her lips. Antony, in a bit of bitter comic relief, has been comparing himself to a shadow on the water. Antony now asks Eros to fulfill an old promise to kill him, assuring him that by killing Antony, it is Octavius (Caesar) that he will defeat. But Eros kills himself instead. Antony praises Eros as a worthier man than himself, then tries to commit suicide by falling on his own sword, but botches the job. Decretas sees Antony in his near-dead condition with his bloody sword nearby. He realizes that if he carries this sword to Octavius (Caesar) he will earn himself forever a seat in Octavius’ court, so he does so.
Antony begs the guards to come and kill him, but they refuse. Then Diomedes comes to him from Cleopatra. Antony asks Diomedes to kill him, but Diomedes says that Cleopatra is alive and was afraid that Antony might harm himself, thinking she was dead. Antony asks his guards to carry him to where Cleopatra is and assures them it will be the last service he asks of them.
In Scene 13, having Mardian tell Antony that Cleopatra has committed suicide is her immature way to get back at Antony for his blistering condemnation of her when he thought she was responsible for the defection of the Egyptian ships. A more psychologically mature woman would have realized instantly the possible disastrous consequences of such a plot. Of course, Cleopatra did realize the consequences later, but too late to prevent Antony from trying to kill himself.
In Scene 14, notice the string of similes in the opening lines: “a cloud that’s dragonish.” etc. Eros, long before, had been Antony’s bondservant. When Antony had freed him, he had sworn to Antony that, should Antony ever ask him to do so, he would kill Antony. Notice the double entendre in line 105: “I have done my work ill, friends.” can apply both to Antony’s botched attempt at suicide and his handling of the entire war with Octavius.