Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Antony’s Hath Triumphed On Itself: Antony and Cleopatra – Act IV

Scene I – IV : Before The Battle

The last battle would begin; Caesar was with firm confidence, while Antony became very melancholy. He called his servants and spoke passionately to them, as Enobarbus described it: “To make his followers weep.” Meanwhile the soldiers out in their camp heard soft music in the air that seemed to come from the earth; they were saying that it was a bad signs that Hercules had left Antony… (fortunately no ghost appearance this time!!)

Looking at Antony’s preparations for the final battle—from his melancholy speech to his servants to his approach to his soldiers—I believe Antony was actually hiding his desperation. He entered the battle field not as a great general as he used to be, but as a man who was trapped by his enemy, and this final battle would be his last hope—whether he’d win it or die in honor.

Scene V - VI: Enobarbus’ Betrayal

The high-minded of Antony showed when he heard about Enobarbus’ desert. Instead of being angry, he took the blame for making an honest man betrayed his master:
I wish he never find more cause
To change a master. Oh, my fortunes have
Corrupted honest men!
This was not the first; when he lost in Actium battle, Antony left a ship full of treasure for his soldiers before he left himself. He was actually a true great general who treasured his soldiers, once again…it’s a pity that he could not divide his career to his love life!

Enobarbus now lamented his wrong decision to join Caesar and left Antony. Caesar wanted to put Antony’s desertion soldiers in front of the troops to make Antony felt like fighting his own men—even Caesar knew Antony’s weakness of loving his men.

Scene VII - VIII : The Battle Begun…

At the end of first day battle Caesar’s troops were forced back to their camp. Here Antony shared his joy with Cleopatra:
O thou day o’ the world,
Chain mine armed neck. Leap thou, attire and all,
Through proof of harness to my heart, and there
Ride on the pants triumphing!

Scene IX – XI : Poor Enobarbus & The Battle continued on…

Last words of poor Enobarbus….
O sovereign mistress of true melancholy,
The poisonous damp of night disponge upon me,
That life, a very rebel to my will,
May hang no longer on me

Meanwhile, there was an interesting strategy from both Caesar and Antony. Antony instructed his men from the sea to gather on the hills by the city because it was the best place to analyze the battle. On the other side Caesar instructed his men to take place in the valleys because Antony would be busy at the sea. He specifically said that he could not fight before Antony attacked. This would be interesting…

Scene XII – XIII : Who did really betray Antony?

Apparently Antony had been betrayed by the Egyptians—his army left him and joined Caesar’s, and Antony blamed Cleopatra for this and wished to kill her. Was this where Cleopatra did her promise to Caesar, to sacrifice Antony for her own safety? And was that why Caesar did not fight first?

Cleopatra was terrified at Antony’s rage, and she followed Charmian’s idea to hide in the monument while sending her messenger to tell Antony that she had killed herself after moaning her last word: “Antony…”. And Cleopatra clearly instructed her maid to “word it, prithee, piteously”. Hmm….

Scene XIV :  A tragedy indeed

…And who would not be touched after reading these…
Here I am Antony,
Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.
I made these wars for Egypt, and the Queen,
Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine—
Which whilst it was mine had annexed unto ’t
A million more, now lost—she, Eros, has
Packed cards with Caesar and false-played my glory
Unto an enemy’s triumph.
Nay, weep not, gentle Eros. There is left us
Ourselves to end ourselves.

Then while the eunuch Mardian came to tell the news of Cleopatra’s death, Antony gave everything up. He asked Eros, a young soldier, to unarm him from his armor which was the sign that he gave up the war.

Interesting it was to analyze Antony’s question to Eros: “Eros, thou yet behold’st me? “ Antony felt that his life was just like an illusion. How can everything he had endured be true? How absurd and how unreal they were, yet they were true. Yes, it was so tragic. At the moment when Antony should have won, he was defeated by the one he loved the most. T__T

How clever Cleopatra was, she should have known how Antony would react when he heard that she’s dead, he would kill himself. O Antony, a noble general and an affectionate lover; it’s pity you had loved the wrong woman!

Cleopatra and the Dying Mark Anthony by Pompeo Batoni, 1763
So it must be, for now
All length is torture.
Since the torch is out,
Lie down and stray no farther.”

And won’t you weep by this?...
I come, my Queen. Stay for me.
Where souls do couch on flowers, we’ll hand in hand,
And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze.
Dido and her Aeneas shall want troops,
And all the haunt be ours.”

Diomedes came carrying Cleopatra’s words that she was still alive, hiding in the monument (what a perfect timing…). So Antony asked his soldiers to carry him to Cleopatra.

Scene XV : Antony’s last words


“…Please your thoughts
In feeding them with those my former fortunes,
Wherein I lived the greatest prince o’ th’ world,
The noblest, and do now not basely die,
Not cowardly put off my helmet to
My countryman—a Roman by a Roman
Valiantly vanquished.”

O thou noblest Antony! He finally died in Cleopatra’s embrace, then Cleopatra fainted upon this.

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