The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra

By Marvin Rosenberg; Mary Rosenberg | Go to book overview

Act 2, Scene vi

Flourish. Enter Pompey, at one door with Drum and Trumpet:
at another Caesar, Lepidus, Anthony, Enobarbus, Maecenas,
Agrippa, Menas with Soldiers Marching.

Everyone agrees that Menas actually enters with Pompey, which still gives Pompey just one supporter against an “army” ready for battle in “soldiers’ dress”—full armor from helmets down. These troops can be heard marching before the scene opens: their armor and movement threaten Pompey, attended by his one man—and his musicians standing apart, with their brave, Pompeylike clamor. The triumvirs’ troops—one soldier carrying the pole (often the banner with SPQR)—have encircled Pompey to put him at a disadvantage.

In Oklahoma (Risso 1997) Pompey entered high up, as on a cliff, to avoid any chance of captivity if no agreement was reached. In Austria Pompey stood halfway down on his ship’s high gangway, that sloped from stage right to the floor; he was safe there because he could be attacked by only one at a time. He has signaled—presumably to any (offstage) seamen of his own.

In some modern stagings, Pompey has had his own little army behind him, eager to fight, intensifying the sense of imminent conflict.

Shakespeare has been building to this confrontation, with battle impending, since the first time Pompey’s name was mentioned in 1.2. Sadly, the scene has often been cut, along with our first meeting with Pompey in 2.1. Lost are not only testings of vital characters in the play, but also Shakespeare’s emphasis on his worldwide focus, and his build to the coming scene on Pompey’s barge, when we must then meet Pompey for the first time, with hardly a taste of what he stands for, unprepared for the challenge of his tortured idealism.

Now, standing alone, threatened, the Pompey so ready of energy in 2.1, so committed to the common Romans—we could understand why they should love him—stands in his rugged seaman’s clothes, facing all these militants in their impeccable armor. He speaks out boldly, bravely, to these world powers that would destroy him.

He begins with a warning to the triumvirs that he comes to their meeting prepared (Shakespeare is collapsing time):

-197-

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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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