The Character of Enorbarbus in William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra
Enobarbus’s character can be seen as the most striking invention of
As the lieutenant of Antony, he contributes to the drama in a number
of ways. He is sympathetic to Antony from the start, loyal and fellow
feeling. Instead of agreeing with Antony at the beginning where he
says he wishes he had never met Cleopatra, Enobarbus replies that, had
that been the case, Antony would have missed “a wonderful piece of
He does not share the perspective of his fellow Roman soldiers Philo
and Demetrius in the opening scene, in fact he seems to enjoy life in
Egypt contributing with appreciative comments on Cleopatra. “Age
cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. (149
II.2.245) When Antony says of Cleopatra, “She is cunning past man’s
thought”, Enobarbus disagrees, “Alack, sir, no: her passions are made
of/ nothing but the finest part of pure love” (I.2.146-8).
In their conversations at the beginning and in his role throughout,
Enobarbus seems to represent an ordinary reflection of something in
Antony himself, as in a mirror. His humour in response to the
announcement of Fulvia’s death, anticipate the jovial side of Antony
that will manifest itself in the galley scene. Before the triumvirs
meet, the diplomatic Lepidus tries to persuade Enobarbus to keep
Antony calm. Enobarbus however refuses saying that he much prefers
that Antony should speak his mind.
He reminds Antony and Caesar that there will be time enough to quarrel
after they have disposed of Pompey.
To Antony’s criticize, “Thou art a soldier only. Speak no more”
(II.2.111), he boldly replies, “That truth should be silent I had
almost forgot”. He is established here as an honest figure who gets to
the heart of things and is not afraid to speak his mind. “Sir, I never
loved you much… (150 II.6.76)
His appreciation of Egypt and its queen, “the barge she sat in, like a
burnished throne… (139, II.2.200) together with his ingenuity and
humour, makes him perfect for the exotic description given to his
peers from Caesar’s entourage. He is not left without tact when he
tries to stop Pompey making remarks to Antony about Julius Caesar’s
relations with Cleopatra.
He then tells Pompey that he does not like him much but is prepared to
give him his due. Pompey acknowledges his “plainness” /II.6.78), his
honesty in speaking. In a...