A Conflict Of Duties: Antony’s Agony

2405 words - 10 pages

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 as a powerful leader for Rome, his reputation and loyalties were in question because of his desire to stay with his Queen, living a life of leisure. The romance between Antony and Cleopatra was complicated and exciting for Antony. He enjoyed her many changes in temperament and mood. In an instant, her personality would change from being an insecure girl who was constantly uncertain about how much Antony loved her, to a seductive woman whom no man was able to deny, and in the same sense a Queen whose authority was malicious as well as kind. Cleopatra was a finicky woman whose mind changed as often as her emotions, but to an exaggerated extreme. Her behavior mimicked the world he now surrounded himself with, unpredictable and exciting. The distance from Rome proved to be detrimental to the life he led in Rome. In his absence, news of his wife’s death and the threat of another country going to war with Rome brought his attention back to the obligation he had neglected for so long. Octavius Caesar required Mark Antony’s presence and commanded that he return to Rome to rectify the damage that his wife and brother had brought upon the Roman citizens after losing a battle with that nation. This news of Antony leaving...

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