A Conflict of Duties: Antony’s Agony

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Mark Antony, the main character in Shakespeare’s, Antony and Cleopatra, was a soldier and one of three triumvirate political leaders who governed the Roman Empire of the West. Antony created a reputation as a military genius due to the victories in battle that resulted in the conquest of many nations. He was respected and admired not just by the citizens of Rome but also by his comrades for his sense of duty and dedication to Rome. He earned an honorable reputation as the most powerful and feared of the three triumvirates, over- shadowing the popularity of his fellow commanders, Octavius Caesar and Lepidus. His status as a solid leader changed after his first encounter with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and ruler of Alexandria. The encounter started out as a political alliance between him and Cleopatra, but quickly resulted in a historical love affair with the Queen and the exotic world that was opposite from the rigidity of Roman culture and code of behavior. Cleopatra was a magnificent ruler in her own right, not just because she wielded great power among her people but also because she was thought to have a beauty and persona so embellished that they entertained and captivated anyone who was in her presence. The temptation of pleasure created a conflict between duty and obligations to Rome and his obsession with the Queen and her nation’s Dionysian way of life, which became the Achilles heel that caused the agony Antony felt as a result of being torn between the two worlds.

Antony spent such an exorbitant amount of time consumed with the luxuries of Alexandria and immersed in the thralls of Cleopatra’s enchantment that he disregarded the duties and responsibilities as a triumvirate of Rome. Although he was still regarded ...

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... lost the admiration of a celebrated hero and the love and devotion to the one person he fought be with, life was not worth living anymore. Greif stricken, Antony took his own life before the message was sent to him that Cleopatra lied about her own death out of fear of his wrath. Caesar had won, not only in his conquest of Alexandria, but with his scheme to eliminate his rival and avenge his sister’s honor. Caesar had no intention of letting Cleopatra retain her throne. He intended for her to be displayed on the streets of Rome as a whore and enchantrice who was the reason for the lack of morality and civility in the East. Cleopatra refused to be a victim and instead committed suicide with the aid her servants and the deadly bites of poisonous snakes to evade her fate and to show for the last time, her love and devotion to her Antony displayed through death.

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