The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra

By Marvin Rosenberg; Mary Rosenberg | Go to book overview

Act I, Scene iv

Almost before Cleopatra is out of sight, a flourish sounds; a Roman flourish, harder, more deliberate than Cleopatra’s opening one.

Enter Octavius reading a Letter, Lepidus,
and their Train.

The Romans carry Rome onto the stage with them, in their uniforms and appurtenances, and, when possible, their Roman profiles (as different from the Egyptian). Sometimes a Roman symbol displays behind them. Colors and lights have also been used to delineate the different countries.* And music. Often the triumvirs’ three chairs are thrust onto the stage, Anthony’s to remain conspicuously empty. This is a sober indoor scene, enclosed, contrasting instantly with the lively outdoors of Egypt. This is Rome.†

As in 1.1, in a clear parallel, only the principals and messengers will speak. Any others who accompany Octavius, to be recognized later—for instance Agrippa, Maecenas, Thidias, Dolabella—will be silent, concerned about the urgency of this meeting. They may soundlessly be preparing for war. Armed sentinels may stand watch at the entrances: though often on stage only Octavius and Lepidus appear, losing Shakespeare’s sense of Octavius’s prestige.

Once again war beckons, echoing the previous scene. Octavius may be arming himself, or preparing, in military dress. The Romans sometimes wear togas. If so, the togas must be functional, as for men in action. Lepidus has, for contrast to Octavius, worn a toga with scarlet trim, as befits his station. Modern

*Usually warm, bright, and glowing for Egypt, heavy, somber and drab for Rome. In Ashland (Metropulos 2003), rosy pink set against a cold blue: in Colorado (Rossi 1972), flame and warm brown earth colors for Egypt, blue, white, silver and acquamarine for Rome. In Germany (Schmitt 1937), “the luxuriant colours and flowing forms characterizing decadent Egypt contrasted effectively with the black and white geometry of warlike Rome.” (Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 99) In two later Colorado stagings, exotic Egyptian garments “easily blown by breezes on stage” (Appel 1985), and stiff Roman military uniforms (Clay 1994).

†In a German staging (Neuenfels 1989) Caesar appeared in his stately Roman home having his portrait painted, posing as Emperor, with his hand resting lightly on a globe, as a playball of world power to come.

-123-

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The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Acknowledgments 17
  • Introduction 21
  • Act One 39
  • Act I, Scene I 41
  • Anthony 70
  • Cleopatra 80
  • Act I, Scene II 86
  • Act I, Scene III 104
  • Octavius 118
  • Act I, Scene IV 123
  • Act I, Scene V 133
  • Act Two 143
  • Act II, Scene I 145
  • Act II, Scene II 151
  • Act 2, Scene III 174
  • Act II, Scene IV 180
  • Act II, Scene V 181
  • Act 2, Scene VI 197
  • Act II, Scene VII 207
  • Act Three 225
  • Act III, Scene I 227
  • Act III, Scene II 231
  • Act III, Scene III 239
  • Act III, Scene IV 246
  • Act III, Scene V 251
  • Act III, Scene VI 254
  • Act III, Scene VII 262
  • Act III, Scenes VIII, IX, and X 272
  • Act III, Scene XI 278
  • Act III, Scene XII 288
  • Act III, Scene XIII 293
  • Act Four 315
  • Act IV, Scene I 317
  • Act IV, Scene II 320
  • Act IV, Scene III 326
  • Act IV, Scene IV 329
  • Act IV, Scene V 335
  • Act IV, Scene VI 337
  • Act IV, Scene VII 341
  • Act IV, Scene VIII 344
  • Act IV, Scene IX 349
  • Act IV, Scenes X, XI, XII, and XIII 352
  • Act IV, Scene XIV 362
  • Act IV, Scene XV 379
  • Act Five 393
  • Act V, Scene I 395
  • Act V, Scene II 403
  • Is Anthony and Cleopatra a Tragedy? 473
  • Epilogue 480
  • A Note on the Historical Cleopatra 69 Bc–30 BC 482
  • Critical and Theatrical Bibliographies 489
  • Critical Bibliography 491
  • Theatrical Bibliography 532
  • Index 597
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