Triumvir. One third of the triumvirate, the alliance between Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus that rules the Roman Empire. Antony is a great general, beloved by his men. He is middle-aged. He is also a lover of pleasure, far less single-minded than Octavius. He is a complicated and fatally divided man, failing to rise to the task of generalship at key points. Plutarch represents his love for Cleopatra as the cause of his doom, and Shakespeare shares this view, but the play also shows their love as a kind of triumph, beautiful and wonderful on its own terms.
Queen of Egypt. She is the last of the Greek dynasty that began its rule over Egypt, centuries before, with Ptolemy. (Ptomely was a general under Alexander the Great who inherited the Egyptian part of Alexander's empire after Alexander's death.) Cleopatra is the lover of Antony, and others in the past, including the deceased Julius Caesar. She is middle-aged. Cleopatra is one of Shakespeare's most accomplished creations, an intriguing woman who wraps great men around her finger. She is possessive, commanding, dramatic. She is complicated and fickle. Her own emotions are of supreme importance to her, and she has a violent temper. Her personal charisma far exceeds her talents as a strategist, and her interference partly causes Antony's defeat. Her final suicide is not done according to the precepts of a Roman conception of honor, but rather because she will allow no fundamental compromise to her persona. She will not be paraded through the streets as Caesar's trophy.
Triumvir. Julius Caesar's nephew and adopted son. Destined to become Augustus, the ruler of the Roman Empire. Referred to both as "Caesar" and "Octavius." He is much younger than Antony. As in Julius Caesar, Octavius is depicted in Antony and Cleopatra as possessing nearly inhuman detachment and self-control. He is a cold, calculating, political animal. He uses Antony when he needs him, and turns on both Antony and Lepidus when he can. But he is not malicious. He is single-minded. His ambition is of a single empire, ruled by a single Emperor, and war will be his tool for achieving a universal peace in the Mediterranean world. He is not nearly as good a field commander as Antony, but his absolute devotion to his ambition proves decisive.
M. Aemilius Lepidus
Triumvir. The lame duck of the triumvirate. Lepidus is not a serious contender for power. Octavius disposes of him as soon as it becomes politically expedient.
His father was Pompey the Great, a popular Roman general who shared power with Caesar in the first triumvirate. Sextus Pompeius, aka Pompey, is a formidable threat to the triumvirate. His power by sea is threatening enough to force the triumvirate to put aside their differences. Although he has an opportunity to slay the triumvirate while they are guests aboard his ship, he refuses out of his sense of honor.
Friend to Antony. An officer, one of Antony's closest friends and supporters. Enobarbus is a cynical observer of the events of the play, disapproving of Antony often but always speaking from a complex and sophisticated perspective. His sense of irony runs deep, and he is completely outspoken until his master begins to lose self-control. His penetrating insights make him one of the play's most memorable characters. After he has betrayed Antony, Enobarbus' keen insight is turned on himself, and he dies of grief.
A gifted officer of Antony, blessed also with political savvy. When victorious against Rome's formidable enemy, the Parthian Empire, Ventidius is careful not to capitalize too well on his victories, as too much success for an officer can lead to a superior's fear, envy, and suspicion. Although not at all integral to the central story of the play, Ventidius' scene (3.1) speaks volumes about the volatile politics of the Roman military.
One of Antony's attendants. With Octavius' victory close, Antony asks Eros to kill him (4.14). Eros kills himself instead.
Friend to Antony, brave soldier and faithful companion.
Friend to Antony. After Antony's suicide, Decretas brings Antony's bloody sword to Caesar.
Friend to Antony. At the beginning of the play, he and Philo speak disapproving of Antony's affair with Cleopatra.
Friend to Antony. At the beginning of the play, he and Demetrius speak disapprovingly of Antony's affair with Cleopatra.
Lieutenant general to Antony. After Antony's shocking desertion of his own men at Actium, Canidius defects to Caesar's camp
An officer in Ventidius' army
Friend to Caesar.
Friend to Caesar
Friend to Caesar. He guards the captured Cleopatra, and helps her to preserve her honor.
Friend to Caesar. Antony warns Cleopatra to trust none in Caesar's camp but Proculeius, but in the end Dolabella proves her greatest friend.
Friend to Caesar. Messenger. When Caesar's messages to Antony enrage him, Antony has the unfortunate Thidias whipped.
Friend to Caesar.
Lieutenant general to Caesar.
One of Pompey's men. When Pompey entertains the triumvirate as guests aboard his barge, Menas asks if he should murder the three men and make Pompey the world's master.
Friend to Pompey.
Friend to Pompey.
Attendant on Cleopatra.
Attendant on Cleopatra. A eunuch. He brings Antony the false news that Cleopatra is dead.
Attendant on Cleopatra. Her spineless treasurer, who betrays her when she's down.
Attendant on Cleopatra. He brings Antony the news that the queen is still living.
He predicts many things, although some of his predictions are masked. He tells Charmian that she will outlive her mistress, which she does, but only by a few moments. He warns Antony that whenever Antony contests with Octavius, he will lose.
Deliverer of the asp that kills Cleopatra.
Attendant on Cleopatra. This devoted lady in waiting follows her mistress even unto death. Her memorable last words are taken directly from Plutarch.
Attendant on Cleopatra. Another lady-in-waiting. Saucy and high-spirited, she also proves loyal enough to join her mistress in suicide.
Antony and Cleopatra Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Antony and Cleopatra is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Shakespeare's dialogue remains unchallenged, as it definitely the case in Antony and Cleopatra. From their declarations of love to their extravagant vocabularies, the audience is left without doubt that the two share an abiding, equal love....
Historically, the events of Antony and Cleopatra took place in the late first century BCE. Julius Caesar ends in victory for Octavius, Lepidus, and Antony, who defeat Caesar's assassins and divide the world between themselves. Antony and Cleopatra...