The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra

By Marvin Rosenberg; Mary Rosenberg | Go to book overview

Act III, Scene v

Enter Enobarbus, and Eros.

All the characters we have met are now going to be older; and we will meet many new ones. We are moving to some ten years later, when appearances and behavior have changed. Anthony will speak of the silver in his hair; Caesar will call him the “old ruffian.”

The form of this transition scene (often cut) is familiar. War is in the offing; men are preparing for it. Eros, a new character, helps start off this second part of the play: earnest, sensitive, young (he will call Enobarbus “sir”), freed by Anthony and utterly, deeply, devoted to him—we can tell by the anxious way he hurries to polish Anthony’s familiar great sword. How sensitive he can be we will learn when Anthony calls on him for an ultimate action.* With him now comes Enobarbus, ready to help, also devoted to Anthony as we know, but fatally given to putting people and events in perspective. Once more Shakespeare advances his narrative with subordinates commenting on superiors. There is urgency in their sharp exchange:

Enobarbus: How now, friend Eros?
Eros: There’s strange news come, sir.
Enobarbus: What, man?
Eros: Caesar and Lepidus have made wars upon Pompey.
Enobarbus: This is old; what is the success?

Eros, with youthful sympathy for Lepidus, and indignation:

Caesar having made use of him in the wars ’gainst Pompey, presently denied him
rivality! would not let him partake in the glory of the action! and not resting here,
accuses him of letters he had formerly wrote to Pompey! Upon his own appeal seizes
him! so the poor third is up, till death enlarge his confine.

*As with Enobarbus, Shakespeare seems to have created a character out of a mere name in Plutarch. Plutarch’s mention of Eros comes quite late in his Life of Marcus Antonius: “Now [Antonius] had a man of his called Eros, whom he loved and trusted much, and whom he had long before caused to swear unto him, that he should kill him when he did command him.” Eros and Iras: the names, the loyalty, and the manner of death are so similar that one wonders whether Shakespeare was indeed deliberately creating parallel tragedies.

-251-

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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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