Act I, Scenes 4 and 5: Questions and Answers
1. Which of the three triumvirs was considered so weak as to be almost totally ineffective?
2. What passage in the first act is our first clue to his weakness and ineffectiveness?
3. At what point in the first act, other than the prophecy of the Soothsayer, do we find foreshadowing of the coming conflict between Mark Antony and Octavius (Caesar)?
4. Cleopatra’s feelings toward Mark Antony tend to vary throughout the play. Although she tries to convince him to receive the delegation from Octavius, she finally approves his return to Rome and strongly upbraids her companions for what she considers a derogatory comment about him. What was the comment?
5. Lepidus says, “His faults in him seem as the spots of heaven,/More fiery by night’s blackness.” About whom does he say this, and what does he mean?
6. Octavius (Caesar) says, in commenting on Antony’s sojourn in Egypt, “Let’s grant it is not/Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy.” Why would Octavius be so gracious as to comment so about one with whom he is angry?
7. Cleopatra asks Charmian for a drink of mandragora. Why would she desire such a drink?
8. Octavius says to Lepidus, “Pompey/Thrives in our idleness.” What did he mean?
9. Menecrates and Menas are called “famous pirates.” Later in the play they become relatively important characters. Who are they and in what kind of piracy are they engaged?
10. The messenger says, “the borders maritime/Lack blood to think on’t.” What did he mean?
1. Lepidus was considered weak and ineffective, a position that most modern historians agree with.
2. Lepidus weakly defends Mark Antony against Octavius’ charges. Lepidus says that Antony was compelled by his nature to act as he did, rather than that he had done so by conscious choice.
3. Octavius, in conversation with Lepidus, refers to Mark Antony as a “great competitor.” The word “competitor” in Elizabethan times sometimes meant “partner” but could also hold the connotation that it does today.
4. Charmian refers to the “valiant Caesar.” The comment angers Cleopatra, who thinks the comment was intended to refer to Octavius (Caesar). Cleopatra, in a vicious remark, reminds Charmian that it is Mark Antony that is to be honored, not “Caesar.”
5. Lepidus makes the comment about Antony, and means that Antony’s faults are as minuscule in comparison...
(The entire section is 590 words.)