One of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedies, Antony and Cleopatra, tells the tale of Mark Antony, one of the three rulers of the Roman Empire, and Cleopatra, the infamous Queen of Egypt. After living the life of luxury in Egypt, Antony is compelled to return to Rome when the empire is threatened by the rebellion of Sextus Pompey. However, he soon butts heads with Octavius Caesar, who objects to his ally’s selfish, imperious attitude. Antony marries Caesar’s sister, Octavia, in an effort to heal the rift between them and the men make peace with Pompey.
When Cleopatra hears about Antony’s marriage to Octavia, she flies into a jealous rage even though she knows that Antony does not love Octavia. Antony goes to Athens but he is angered when war breaks out between Caesar and Pompey and sends his new wife back to her brother in Rome while Antony goes to Egypt. Incensed with Caesar’s behavior, Caesar declares war on both Antony and Cleopatra. The two leaders go into battle, with their lives and their honor at stake. Despite his reputation as world’s greatest soldier, Antony chooses to fight on sea--a decision that proves to be his undoing. Cleopatra’s navy turns and flees in battle and Antony is defeated.
Wrong-footed and fearful of Antony’s reaction, Cleopatra hides in her her monument and sends a message to Antony that she is dead. Antony decides to commit suicide but he botches his attempt and faces a slow death. His followers take him to Cleopatra’s tomb, where he dies in her arms. Cleopatra realizes that, despite Caesar’s assurances, she is destined to become a celebrated slave of the Roman Empire unless she takes matters into her own hands. Her Clown delivers deadly asps to the Queen and she incites them to bite her. Caesar finds her body and orders that Antony and Cleopatra be buried together.
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