The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra

By Marvin Rosenberg; Mary Rosenberg | Go to book overview

Act III, Scene i

Enter Ventidius as it were in triumph,
the dead body of Pacorus borne before him.

Editors since Rowe tend to start a new act with this scene, though in the Folio, of course, the flow is continuous. In stagings the scene is usually cut, reducing this part of Shakespeare’s complex glance at war and warriors. Shakespeare meant it to follow immediately after 2.7, stretching the world out. It is not a place for a break; that should wait until the end of what editors call 3.4.

As it were in triumph suggests that Ventidius is making the most of his initial victory against the Parthians. A “triumph” justifies an opening Flourish, and Ventidius may be giving himself one as Pacorus’s corpse is brought in. There may be many officers and soldiers observing the scene: but Ventidius speaks only to one, labeled simply “Roman” in Folio’s stage directions, but identified as “Silius” in the following dialogue. Ventidius seems to be justifying himself before this single observer from Rome. The attendant soldiers look on.

In Brook’s staging (1978–79), Pacorus was brought in alive, and killed before us. Brook enjoys deconstructing Shakespeare—who was in this play saving the impact of visual deaths for three of his main characters. Pacorus is young; was a horseman; is probably so dressed, though he has been brought in nearly naked. The as it were in triumph suggests that he is decently borne in, in tribute to a great enemy; but his body has also been dragged in.

What of the Roman soldiers? They have fought a violent battle, and their bodies and uniforms will show it. They may well seem exhausted from the struggle, with torn clothes and wounds more or less being bandaged.

Ventidius too. Tidying himself, surrounded by his plunder, he is proud of what he has done, and he proclaims it, and the play’s wide world:

Now! darting Parthia! art thou struck!

(Darting Parthia: cavalry attacking with darts, before holding their lines with archery)

-227-

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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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