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Summary Act 4


What with his superior army and navy, Caesar is poised to oppose and vanquish Antony once and for all. As for engaging Antony one-on-one, Caesar will ignore it. He feels sorry for his once staunch ally whose lavish lifestyle has brought him to a state of brazen foolishness. Maecenas counsels Caesar not give Antony any quarter.


Having gotten word that Caesar wouldn’t challenge him to a one-on-one duel, Antony resolves to have their forces clash and let come what may. Presently, Antony shows a concern for his servants that is unbecoming of a master and that alarms Cleopatra. Enobarbus chides Antony for letting sorrow get the better of him. Antony apologizes and orders the night’s revels to proceed.


Antony’s soldiers, who are on the watch, suppose that as long as the navy holds up and does its job tomorrow that the possibilities of success is good when they hear an eerie sound originating beneath the earth. Some speculate that this is a good sign, others that it’s a bad sign, arguing that it signifies Hercules’ abandonment of Antony. In any event, they agree that it’s strange.


Contrary to Cleopatra’s wishes, Antony gets up early to arm himself for the coming battle. Cleopatra helps him to suit up. By and by, kissing Cleopatra goodbye, Antony joins his soldiers at the gate. As Cleopatra retires to her chambers, she cant’ help but muse that all would be well if only Caesar had agreed to engage Antony one-on-one.


A soldier informs Antony that Enobarbus has defected to Caesar. As Enobarbus has left his treasures behind, Antony orders Eros to deliver them to Enobarbus and to tell Enobarbus that he--Antony--would give Enobarbus no further cause to hold a grudge against Antony.


Caesar orders Agrippa to have Antony taken alive. Meanwhile, Enobarbus, having received the treasures he had left behind, curses himself for having betrayed Antony. He decides that there’s nothing left do to but for him to kill himself ignobly in a miserable ditch.


Caesar’s army retreats as they have suffered heavy casualties. Scarus, who is wounded but is nonetheless eager to give chase to Caesar’s retreating men, argues that Antony’s forces should have done this on their first encounter. Commending Scarus, Antony orders his men to regroup.


To a hero’s welcome, Antony’s forces return home where they will tend to their wounds and make them whole again for tomorrow’s battle wherein Antony vows that they of Caesar’s faction who had escaped with their lives today won’t be so lucky. Antony commends all his soldiers for fighting beyond the call of duty, making a point to single out and honor Scarus who is introduced to Cleopatra. Cleopatra vows to reward Scarus with a gold armor fit for a king.


A sentry and two guards notice Enobarbus alone and in the throes of an unexplainable grief. Calling the moon to be a witness of his betrayal to Antony, Enobarbus laments before collapsing and dying. Not sure if Enobarbus is dead or not, the sentry and the guards decide to take the body in as a Enobarbus is a soldier of rank and as they must suit up for battle.


Noting that Caesar is hoping to engage Antony at sea, Antony has his army entrench itself near the city. His navy, which is more or less the Egyptian fleet, has been launched, and he awaits for the results.


Knowing that his best advantage is by sea, Caesar also has his army stand down and lets the battle at sea decide the outcome of the war.


While Antony goes to reconnoiter, Scarus prepares himself for the end which all the soothsayers and prognosticators know but are too afraid to tell Antony: the Egyptian naval fleet will be Antony’s downfall. By and by, Antony comes running to tell Scarus to abandon all and run: The Egyptian fleet has surrendered to Caesar. Presently, Antony curses Cleopatra and her treachery. He curses that he had ever allied his fortunes to her, and decides that he will kill her if it’s the last thing he ever does.


Affrighted by Antony’s fury, Cleopatra decides to hide herself, and to send word to Antony that she has died.


Antony muses on his imminent death and on his anger at Cleopatra, who he is sure has betrayed him to ally herself with Caesar, when Mardian, the eunuch, contradicts him, arguing that Cleopatra has always been on his side and to show her loyalty that she has just killed herself with her concluding thoughts dedicated to Antony. Inconsolable, Antony begs Eros to kill him, arguing that Eros owes him this. Eros objects, but eventually Eros draws his sword only to stab himself to death. Ashamed that Eros has shown himself to be more honorable than him, Antony falls on his sword to no avail: Antony has seriously wounded himself but not seriously enough to have killed himself outright. Summoning his guards, Antony begs one of them to finish the job that he has failed to do himself. All of his guards baulk at the order, however. By and by, Cleopatra’s attendant, Diomedes, arrives to inform Antony that Cleopatra is actually alive, that she had wanted Antony to think that she had died on account of Antony’s rage which was unwarranted as Cleopatra has not now or ever betrayed Antony. Summoning his guards, Antony begs them to convey him to Cleopatra. They tearfully oblige their master‘s one last request.


Antony urges Cleopatra not to cry nor to act as one who has been defeated as his demise is self-inflicted. He urges her to make her peace with Caesar and to stay alive. And when remembering Antony, not to think of this moment, but to recall Antony in his glory when he ruled a third of the world and was accounted the most noblest prince. Cleopatra assures Antony, however, that as long as knives and poisons retain their deadliness that she will never submit to Caesar or let Octavia pity her. She begs Antony not to die and thereby deprive her of the one thing that makes life worth living. Antony dies of course, steeling Cleopatra’s resolve to seek out death before it ever seeks her out.

William Shakespeare