illustration of Antony and Cleopatra facing each other with a snake wrapped around their necks

Antony and Cleopatra

by William Shakespeare

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Act 1, Scenes 4 and 5 Summary

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Last Updated February 3, 2023.

Scene 4 shifts to Rome. Octavius Caesar is annoyed that Antony has been neglecting his duties to spend so much time in Egypt with Cleopatra. Lepidus tries to make the excuse that Antony's faults are simply part of his inherited nature. Caesar, however, is not convinced. Antony's absence has created some major problems. A messenger enters with the news that Pompey is growing in strength and that some of Caesar's former allies are going over to him. Caesar again wishes that Antony would be where he belongs, for his reputation and skills as a soldier are much needed.

In scene 5, Cleopatra mopes at Antony's absence. Charmian says, “You think of him too much,” but Cleopatra will not accept such talk. Cleopatra falls into wondering what Antony is doing. Then Alexas enters with a gift from Antony to Cleopatra. It is a pearl that Antony has kissed just for her. Cleopatra asks if Antony was happy or sad, and Alexas answers that he was neither, which Cleopatra praises as prudent. She decides to gather many messengers to send to Antony each day that he is away.

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Act 1, Scene 3 Summary

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Act 2, Scenes 1 and 2 Summary