The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra

By Marvin Rosenberg; Mary Rosenberg | Go to book overview

Act II, Scene vii

Music plays. Enter two or three Servants with a Banquet.

The “two or three” suggests Shakespeare was thinking functionally, letting the theatre decide. In fact, only two servants speak, preparing the scene, as often in Shakespeare; will the third, as with Lepidus in the other triumvirate, seem to be disposable?

Shakespeare has rich music play through much of the action. At the end Menas will call on “These drums, these trumpets, flutes!” Pompey is being most hospitable. But though his music may rise in accents, it must never mask the language.

Shakespeare keeps reminding his sea-power audience of the eternal water, bearing ships. We are likely to know this is Pompey’s galley because a sail, white or richly colored, has been rigged, usually from the above, and it sometimes moves as if in a wind. Ropes will seem to set the sail. If possible, we will see, in a corner, the end of the cable that connects the galley to the shore. The stage has been made gently to rock; or the actors have indicated the effect of the sea by occasional swaying movement. Glancing lights have suggested the omnipresent water—in Shakespeare’s time by glass or metal reflectors. Moonlight, and the passage of night, have also been suggested. Nighttime, in the open Globe, would be conveyed by torches or lanterns; in the indoor Blackfriars, which Shakespeare’s company took over in 1608, the year this play was registered, lighting could be controlled and the stage slowly grow darker.*

The Servants enter, sometimes from below through the trap, usually to set the table(s) and bring refreshments. We hear the sounds of merriment off. The Servants do not bring a full banquet; more often it is finger food, and much wine to drink, which the Servants continue to carry in.

These are intelligent servants, not clowns. As with Philo at the beginning, and Enobarbus and Menas, and many another Shakespeare subordinate, they belong in this man’s world, are free to find fault with, find irony in, anything

*Shakespeare’s company assumed the lease of the Blackfriars Theatre in August 1608 (Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare, A Documentary Life, [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977], 264): and, according to the Lord Chamberlain’s records for 1669, the play was “formerly acted at the Blackfriars” (Bevington, Introduction, 44). There is no record of any performance of Anthony and Cleopatra at the Globe.

-207-

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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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