Antony and Cleopatra

The play influenced both Barnabe Barnes’s play The Devil’s Charter, performed by the King’s Men in February 1607, and Samuel Daniel’s revision of his own 1594 play about Cleopatra, which was reprinted in 1607. Scholars argue that its style dates it to 1606.

Though Edward Blount registered the play at the Stationers’ Company on 20th May 1608, it wasn’t printed before appearing in the First Folio in 1623. It was probably typeset from Shakespeare’s draft manuscripts, or a transcript of them, with minor corrections from Heminge and Condell.

Anthony & Cleopatra

‘Noblest of men, woo’t die?
Hast thou no care of me? Shall I abide
In this dull world, which in thy absence is
No better than a sty?’

Antony and Cleopatra, IV xv

Brief synopsis of the play

The great Mark Antony, joint leader of the Roman Empire, becomes intoxicated by love for the alluring Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and when divisions emerge in the leadership, he betrays his Roman honour, deserts his wife and makes war on Octavius Caesar. The irrational and transcendent force of love conflicts with the deeply-held values by which both Antony and Cleopartra conduct their public lives, in this magnificent and poetic tragedy.