A tragedy by Shakespeare, printed in the First Folio of 1623, probably written 1606–7. Its chief source is the Life of Antony by Plutarch, as translated by Sir T. North. Minor sources include the plays by the countess of Pembroke and S. Daniel.
The play presents Mark Antony, the great soldier and noble prince, at Alexandria, enthralled by the beauty of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Recalled by the death of his wife Fulvia and political developments, he tears himself from Cleopatra and returns to Rome, where the estrangement between him and Octavius Caesar is terminated by his marriage to Octavia, Caesar's sister, an event which provokes the intense jealousy of Cleopatra. But the reconciliation is short‐lived, and Antony leaves Octavia and returns to Egypt. At the battle of Actium, the flight of the Egyptian squadron is followed by the retreat of Antony, pursued to Alexandria by Caesar. There, after a momentary success, Antony is finally defeated. On the false report of Cleopatra's death, he falls upon his sword. He is borne to the monument where Cleopatra has taken refuge and dies in her arms. Cleopatra, fallen into Caesar's power but determined not to grace his triumph, takes her own life by the bite of an asp. See also All For Love.
Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.
Related content in Oxford Index
William Shakespeare (1564—1616) playwright and poet