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Mark Antony, A Man And His Reputation

3305 words - 14 pages

As far back as the Old Testament, the topic of reputation has been, and continues to be, weaved into story lines. The protagonist in a story is quickly identified through the author’s characterization as being a “good guy” or a “bad guy.” The technique used by the writer can be either direct, using the narrator, another character, or the main character themselves, or it can be deduced by the audience through observing the characters actions, manner of speech, interaction with others, and appearance. Once established, the storyline observes the ability of the protagonist to maintain, destroy, or enhance their reputation. The great play writer William Shakespeare demonstrates the ...view middle of the document...

Shakespeare artfully reveals the polysemous Mark Antony to the reader/audience not in a historical context but rather in a juxtaposition layering of emotional sentiments of characters he encounters. Ultimately, Shakespeare leaves the question of who Mark Antony really is unanswered, allowing for individual interpretation. Four predominate characteristics of Antony Shakespeare delved into are the military icon, the lover, the Roman, and the assimilated Egyptian.
Historically Mark Antony is renown for his military prowess. According to the Shakespeare version , his position in the Triumvirate was appointed as a direct result of his great militaristic mind and skills on the battlefield. Octavius Caesar, Antony’s equal in the triple balanced rule of the Roman Empire, best sums up the great hero that he was and the impact Cleopatra is having on Antony in Act 1.4.57-74:

Antony, / Leave thy lascivious wassails. When thou once / Wast beaten from Modena, where thou slew’st / Hirtius and Pansa, consuls, at thy heel / Did famine follow, whom thou fought’st against, / Though daintily brought up, with patience more / Than savages could suffer. Thou didst drink / The stale of horses and the gilded puddle / Which beasts would cough at. Thy palate then did deign / The roughest berry on the rudest hedge. / Yea, like the stag, when snow the pasture sheets, / The barks of trees thou browsèd. On the Alps / It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh, / Which some did die to look on. And all this— / It wounds thine honor that I speak it now— / Was borne so like a soldier, that thy cheek / So much as lanked not.

Caesar is calling on the great Antony to return to his former self, and to Rome; to abandon the hedonistic and licentious lifestyle that is clouding his judgment and duteous responsibilities. Caesar is questioning Antony’s character, all the while trying to determine if it is to far gone for redemption and return to the former self. Although Caesar is dire need of Antony’s military brilliance to ward off the threateningly approaching Pompey, he has reasonable doubts about Antony’s loyalty to the Roman Empire, and to Caesar himself. Although these are things that Caesar is questioning, it does not impact the results of Antony’s return to Rome. When word quickly spreads that the great Antony has left the warmth of his Egyptian bed and is back in Rome, bringing his military expertise and strength into the folds of the Roman army, Pompey quickly lays down his sword, for Antony’s “soldiership is twice the other twain” (2.1.35-6). Pompey had no qualms going up against Caesar and Lepidus’ army, it was the fear of the compleat Antony that brought him crawling to the Triumvirate looking for a deal, a truce. Pompey was also was cognizant that in working together again, the divide between Antony and Caesar could be abridged, and the power of these two men together was not a force he would be successful against.
In the Shakespeare’s version of...

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