Octavius Cæsar L. Schmitz (Smith, Dictionary, s. v.): Augustus, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, was born b.c. 63; his grandmother was Julia, Julius Cæsar's sister; he was, therefore, Cæsar's grandnephew. He was most carefully educated and became very early a great favourite of his granduncle who, being childless, is said to have made his will in favour of Octavius, as Augustus was then called. The name Augustus, by which he is best known, was conferred upon him later by the Senate. After the death of Cæsar, Augustus joined Antonius in prosecuting a war against Cæsar's murderers. In the course of it, the first Triumvirate was formed, consisting of Antonius, Augustus, and Lepidus, and in the proscriptions of the adherents of Brutus and Cassius which followed, Augustus was no less cruel than Antonius. After the battle of Philippi where Brutus and Cassius in despair committed suicide, and where the victory was mainly gained by Antonius, a new division of the world was made by the Triumvirs, and Augustus returned to Italy. Here Fulvia, Antonius' wife, fomented quarrels and insurrections in order to draw her husband away from Cleopatra. Augustus, however, succeeded in defeating these garboils and Fulvia's death at Sicyon accelerated a peace between him and Antonius, which was further cemented by the marriage of the latter to Octavia, the sister of Augustus. Peace seemed to be now restored everywhere, but Augustus was anxious to find some pretext whereby he could deprive Sextus Pompeius of his provinces which more or less controlled the supplies of food for Rome. This pretext was found in an accusation that Pompeius upheld piracy, and in a war which followed Augustus was victorious and Pompeius fled to Asia, and Lepidus who wanted Sicily from which Pompeius had just been driven was deprived of his army and sent to Rome where he ended his days as Pontifex Maximus. Having thus disposed of two of his rivals, Augustus felt himself strong enough to cope with the third, Antonius, whose arrogant proceedings in the East, coupled with his repudiation of Octavia, afforded ample grounds to Augustus for representing him as an enemy to Rome. War was now declared against Cleopatra, for Antonius was looked upon as merely her infatuated slave. After the battle of Actium in September, b.c. 31, and the deaths of Antonius and Cleopatra, Egypt was made a Roman province. [His subsequent career has no bearing on this play, and is, therefore, omitted.]
 Lepidus M. Æmil. Lepidus, the Triumvir, is first mentioned in the year b.c. 52, when the Senate appointed him Interrex. In the civil war between Cæsar andPompey, Lepidus, who was then Prætor, joined Cæsar. On the evening before the fatal 15th of March, Cæsar had supped with Lepidus who was present on the following day in the Curia of Pompey, in the Campus Martius, and saw Cæsar fall by the hands of the assassins; Lepidus stole hastily away, and repaired to his troops which he was then collecting for his province. In the turbulent times which followed, Lepidus endeavoured to remain neutral but was at last compelled again to espouse Antony's side and toward the end of the year the celebrated conference took place at Bononia between Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus, which resulted in the Triumvirate. In the proscription-lists which followed this conference, Lepidus placed the name of his own brother, Paullus, who, to be sure, had been one of the Senators who had proclaimed his brother Æmilius a public enemy for having joined Antonius; the soldiers, however, who were appointed to kill him allowed him to escape, possibly with the connivance of his brother. In b.c. 36, Octavius summoned him to Sicily to assist in a war against Sextus Pompeius. Lepidus obeyed, but tired of being treated as a subordinate, he resolved to acquire Sicily for himself, and regain his lost power. But he did not possess the confidence of his army; and Octavius found means on his arrival to seduce it from its allegiance. Detachment after detachment deserted Lepidus, who was at last forced to surrender. All his courage forsook him. He put on mourning, and threw himself before the knees of Octavius, begging for life. This was granted to him; Octavius then deprived him of his Triumvirate, his army, and his provinces, but allowed him to retain his private fortune. Still, insults and the loss of honour and rank did not shorten his life; he survived till b.c. 13. Lepidus had no decided character and was as incapable of committing great crimes as of performing noble acts. He possessed great wealth and was little scrupulous as to the means of gaining it. Neither in war, nor in peace did he show any distinguished ability. His wife was Junia, a sister of the Brutus who killed Cæsar. (Much condensed from an unsigned article in Smith's Dictionary.)
 Sextus Pompeius E. H. Bunbury (Smith, Dictionary, s. v.): Sextus Pompeius, the younger son of the Triumvir, was born b.c. 75, since he was forty at the time of his death in b.c. 35. He did not possess any great abilities. He took arms from necessity, as he was first deprived of everything by Cæsar, and then proscribed by the Triumvirs. His success was owing more to circumstances than to his own merits; the war between the Triumvirs and the republicans, and subsequently the misunderstandings between Octavius and Antonius enabled him to obtain and keep possession of Sicily. He seems never to have aspired to supreme power. He was personally brave, but deficient in refinement, with hardly any knowledge of literature. Paterculus says that he could not speak correctly, but this is doubtless an exaggeration. In b.c. 38 he sustained a severe loss in the desertion of one of his principal legates, Menas, who surrendered to Octavius Sardinia and Corsica together with a large naval and military force. After varying fortune in his contests with Octavius, Pompeius was at last disastrously defeated by Agrippa, Octavius's legate, b.c. 36. In the following year Antonius gathered a large force by land and sea which threatened to crush Pompeius; whereupon his friends, among them his father-in-law, and his soldiers deserted him; he was obliged to surrender and was put to death, b.c. 35.
 Domitius Enobarbus Smith (Dictionary, s. v.): Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus [i. e. Red-beard] had probably no share in the murder of Cæsar; but followed Brutus into Macedonia after Cæsar's death, and was condemned by the Lex Pedia in b.c. 43 as one of the murderers. A year or two later Ahenobarbus became reconciled to Antony which gave great offence to Octavius. When the open rupture took place between Antony and Octavius, Ahenobarbus fled from Rome to Antony, at Ephesus, where he found Cleopatra with him, and endeavoured, in vain, to obtain her removal from the army. Many of the soldiers, disgusted with the conduct of Antony, offered the command to him; but he preferred deserting the party altogether, and accordingly went over to Octavius shortly before the battle of Actium. He was not, however, present at the battle; he died a few days after joining Octavius. [Walker (Vers. 186) remarks that this name ‘is frequently used as if it were a trisyllable, in whatever way the anomaly is to be explained,’—a remark which reveals Walker's strength and his weakness; his strength, in that it is a proof of his extraordinary observation, and his weakness, in that it makes no allowance for the position of a word in a line, or for the liberty permissible in dramatic colloquies. In all the five examples which Walker quotes, the name occurs either in a broken line or at the end of a line,—where there is always for proper names a certain freedom in rhythm, and where in this particular case, the name can be without harshness pronounced as a quadrisyllable; and that it was intended to be so pronounced we can almost positively conclude, because when Shakespeare wished it to be a trisyllable it was so spelled, namely: ‘You see we haue burnt our cheekes. Strong Enobarbe’ II, vii, 144.—an instance which Walker seems to have overlooked. For those who may be interested in this question, I subjoin the places where the name occurs:—I, ii, 153; II, ii, 1; II, ii, 283; II, vii, 144; III, ii, 64; III, xiii, 1; IV, v, 10; IV, v, 23; IV, vi, 26; IV, vii, 32; IV, ix, 12 (bis). It may be possibly worthy of note as a proof of Shakespeare's exclusive dependence on North's translation, that in Latin the name is not Enobarbus, but Aënobarbus or Ahenobarbus, which the Domitian clan bore in memory of the appearance, to their founder, of Castor and Pollux who bade him carry the news of a victory to Rome and confirmed his faith in their divinity by gently stroking his black beard which turned immediately to a red or bronze hue, hence Ahenobarbus. See Suetonius at the beginning of his Life of Nero, who was of this family.—Ed.]
 Ventidius George Long (Smith's Dictionary, s. v.): ‘P. Ventidius Bassus was a native of Picenum, and having fought against the Romans, he was made prisoner by Pompeius Strabo, and appeared in his triumphal procession in chains; after this, being manumitted, he was admitted into the Senate in the course of time, and was then made Praetor in the time of Cæsar, and attained such honour as to conquer the Parthians and to enjoy a triumph for his victory.’—Dion Cass. xliii, 51. We must infer that he was quite a youth when he was captured by the Romans. When he grew up to man's estate, he got a poor living by furnishing mules and vehicles for those magistrates who went from Rome to administer a province. In this humble employment he became known to Julius Cæsar, whom he accompanied into Gaul. After Cæsar's death, Ventidius sided with Antonius in the war of Mutina, b.c. 43. Inb.c. 39, Antonius sent Ventidius into Asia to oppose the Parthians under Labienus, whom Ventidius defeated and in the following year attacked Pacorus, king of the Parthians, whom also he defeated. Pacorus fell in battle and his head was sent round to the Syrian cities, thereby inducing them to keep quiet. In the meantime Antonius arrived, and so far from being pleased with the success of Ventidius, he showed great jealousy of him, and treated him in an unworthy manner. It is said that Antiochus had offered Ventidius a thousand talents as the price of peace, and that Antonius, who undertook the siege of Samosata, was obliged to be content with three hundred. The Senate decreed to Antonius a triumph for the victories of Ventidius; and Antonius rewarded his general by dismissing him from his employment. Yet the services of Ventidius were too great to be overlooked, and on coming to Rome, he had a triumph, b.c. 38. Nothing more is known of him.
 Canidius L. Schmitz (Smith's Dict.): L. Canidius Crassus was with Lepidus in Gaul, in b.c. 43, when Antonius was compelled to seek refuge there and was the main instrument in bringing about the union between Lepidus and Antony. In b.c. 32, when Antonius resolved upon the war with Octavius, Canidius was commissioned to lead the army stationed in Armenia to the coast. On the outbreak of the war, many of Antonius's friends advised him to remove Cleopatra from the army, but Canidius who was bribed by the queen, opposed this plan, and she accordingly accompanied her lover to the fatal war. Shortly afterward, however, Canidius also advised Antonius to send her back to Egypt, and to fight the decisive battle on land and not on sea. This time his advice was disregarded. During the battle of Actium, Canidius who had command of Antonius's land forces, could act the part only of a spectator. After the unfortunate issue of the sea-fight, Canidius and his army still held out for seven days in the hope that Antonius would return; but in the end Canidius in despair took to flight, and followed his master to Alexandria, where he informed him of the issue of the contest and of the fate of his army. After the fall of Antonius, Canidius was put to death by the command of Octavius. He died as a coward, although in times of prosperity he had been in the habit of boasting that death had no terrors for him.
 Scarus William Ramsay (Smith's Dictionary): M. Æmilius Scaurus was the son of M. Æmilius Scaurus and Mucia, the former wife of Pompey, the Triumvir, and consequently the half-brother of Sextus Pompeius. He accompanied the latter into Asia after the defeat of his fleet in Sicily, but betrayed him into the hands of the generals of Antonius, in b.c. 35. After the battle of Actium, he fell into the power of Octavius, and escaped death, to which he had been sentenced, only through the intercession of his mother, Mucia. [See Capell's note, IV, vii, 7.]
 Mecænas Thomas Dyer (Smith's Dictionary, greatly condensed): It is most probable that Mæcenas (it seems to be agreed that this spelling is right) was born between b.c. 73 and 63; his family was of high antiquity and traced its descent from an Etruscan source. All that we know of his life is to be gathered from scattered notices of him in poets and historians of Rome. Shortly after the appearance of Octavius on the political stage, we find the name of Mæcenas in frequent association with his; and there can be no doubt that he was of great use to him in assisting him to consolidate and establish the empire. In the year b.c. 40, Mæcenas took part in the negotiations with Antonius which led to the peace of Brundusium, confirmed by the marriage of Antonius with Octavia, the sister of Octavius. About two years afterward Mæcenas seems to have been employed in negotiating with Antonius, and it was probably on this occasion that Horace accompanied him to Brundusium, a journey which he has described in the Satire, i, 5. In b.c. 36 we find Mæcenas in Sicily with Octavius, then engaged in an expedition against Sextus Pompeius. From this time till the battle of Actium, b.c. 31, history is silent concerning him; but at that period we find him again intrusted with the administration of the civil affairs of Italy. It has indeed been maintained by many critics that Mæcenas was present at the seafight of Actium; but the best modern scholars who have discussed the subject have shown that this could not have been the case and that he remained in Rome during this time. [His subsequent life, familiar to us all as the munificent patron of learning and of poets, has no connection with the present play, and is, therefore, omitted.]
 Agrippa William Plate (Smith, Dict. s. v.): M. Vipsanius Agrippa was born b.c. 63, and was descended from a very obscure family. At the age of twenty he studied at Apollonia in Illyria, together with young Octavius, afterwards Augustus. After the murder of Cæsar, Agrippa advised Octavius to proceed immediately to Rome. Octavius took Agrippa with him, and in b.c. 43 gave him the delicate commission of prosecuting Cassius, one of the murderers of Cæsar At the outbreak of the Perusinian war between Octavius and L. Antonius, Agrippa commanded part of the forces of Octavius, and finally besieged L. Antonius in Perusia, and took the town. In b.c. 38, Agrippa obtained fresh success in Gaul and contributed much to securing the power of Octavius, who recalled him to command the war against Sex. Pompeius, and promoted him to the consulship. After this promotion, Agrippa was charged by Octavius with the construction of a fleet, inasmuch as Sex. Pompeius was master of the sea. This order Agrippa executed with prompt energy. The Lucrine lake was transformed into a safe harbour and there he exercised his sailors till they were able to encounter the experienced sailors of Pompey. In two naval battles he gained such victories that he broke the naval supremacy of Pompey. In b.c. 33, although he had been consul, he voluntarily accepted the ædileship, and expended immense sums of money on great public works. He restored the aqueducts, and constructed a new one, fifteen miles in length. His various splendid buildings were adorned with statues by the first artists in Rome, among these buildings was thePantheon on which his name as the builder may still be read. When the war broke out between Octavius and Anthony, Agrippa was appointed commander-in-chief, and in the battle of Actium, where he commanded, the victory was mainly owing to his skill. [With this event our present interest in him ceases. He was one of the most distinguished men of the age of Augustus, and to him, as we all know, Horace addressed one of his Odes.]
 Dolabella P. Cornelius Dolabella was the son of a profligate father of the same name and of his first wife, Fabia. (The father's second wife was Tullia, Cicero's daughter.) Very little is known of him beyond what is given in Plutarch's Life of Antonius.
 Proculeius Concerning the life of Proculeius there is little to add to that which Plutarch (who calls him Procleius) has given in his Life of Antony. Smith (Dictionary) says that ‘the great intimacy of Proculeius with Augustus is attested by many writers. Dion Cassius speaks of him and Mæcenas as the principal friends of the emperor. Proculeius put an end to his own life by taking gypsum, when suffering from a disease of the stomach.’
 Menas Edward Elder (Smith's Dictionary, s. v.—much condensed): Menas, a freedman of Pompey the Great and of Sextus Pompeius, seems to have been of a thoroughly mercenary character, and, in looking after the main chance, assumed and threw off allegiance with as much indifference ‘as a huntsman, his pack.’ In b.c. 39, when Antony and Octavius were feasting on board a ship of Pompeius, Menas made to the latter the treacherous proposal given in II, vii, 70-98. When Pompeius refused to become an accomplice to the treachery, Shakespeare represents Menas as saying aside ‘I'll never follow thy pall'd fortunes more,’ which was true only for a while. When not long after Pompey sent for Menas, the latter put all the messengers to death, and agreed to surrender the island of Sardinia with all its garrisons to Octavius, who treated him with great distinction and placed him in command of his ships. Just before a re-commencement of hostilities between Pompey and Octavius, Menas again played the deserter and went back to his old master. In the operations which followed, Menas gained some advantages; but in obedience to what he believed to be his interest, he again deserted to Octavius, who received him gladly, but very naturally regarded him with distrust. In b.c. 35 Menas was slain at the siege of Siscia.
 Menecrates Edward Elder (Smith's Dictionary, s. v.): Menecrates, afreedman of Sextus Pompeius, was sent by him as commander of a large squadron of ships, in b.c. 38, to act against Octavius's admiral and Menas, the renegade. The fleets came to an engagement off Cumae, and Menecrates had the advantage over the enemy in manœuvring; but burning with hatred against Menas, he attacked and grappled with the ship in which Menas sailed, and though disabled by a severe wound, continued to encourage his men until he saw that the enemy was on the point of capturing his vessel; he then threw himself overboard and perished.
 Varrius Walker (Crit. ii, 323) suggests that this is perhaps L. Varius Cotyla, an officer and companion of Antony's, and that Shakespeare found him in North's Plutarch (p. 919, eds. 1603 and 1612) and perhaps by a slip of memory took him for a friend of Pompey's. ‘The possibility,’ Walker adds, ‘is, however, so slight, that it is only just worth mentioning.’
 Taurus W. Smith (Dict. s. v.): Statilius Taurus was one of the most distinguished of Octavius's generals. At the battle of Actium, in b.c. 31, Taurus commanded the land-force of Octavius, which was drawn up on the shore.
 Cleopatra W. Smith (Dict. s. v.): Cleopatra, the third child and eldest surviving daughter of Ptolemy Auletes, [the Fluteplayer,] was born towards the end of b.c. 69, and was consequently seventeen at the death of her father, who in his will appointed her heir of his kingdom in conjunction with her younger brother, Ptolemy, whom she was to marry. The personal charms, for which she was so famed, shewed themselves in early youth, as we are told by Appian that she made an impression on the heart of Antony in her fifteenth year, when he was at Alexandria with Gabinius. Her joint reign did not last long, as Ptolemy, or rather Pothinus and Achillas, his chief advisers, expelled her from the throne, about b.c. 49. In the following year Cæsar arrived in Egypt in pursuit of Pompey, and took upon himself to arrange matters between Cleopatra and her brother. According to Plutarch, she made her entryinto Cæsar's apartment in a bale of cloth, which was brought by Apollodorus, her attendant, as a present to Cæsar. However this may be, her plan fully succeeded, and we find her replaced on the throne, much to the indignation of her brother and the Egyptians, who involved Cæsar in a war in which he ran great personal risk, but which ended in his favour. In the course of it, young Ptolemy was killed, probably drowned in the Nile, and Cleopatra obtained the undivided rule. She was, however, associated by Cæsar with another brother of the same name, and still quite a child, with a view to conciliate the Egyptians, with whom she appears to have been very unpopular, and she was also nominally married to him. While Cæsar was in Egypt, Cleopatra lived openly with him, and would have detained him there longer, but for the war with Pharnaces, which tore him from her arms. She however joined him in Rome, in company with her nominal husband, and there continued the same open intercourse with him, living in apartments in his house, much to the offense of the Romans. She was loaded with honours and presents by Cæsar, and seems to have stayed at Rome till his death, b.c. 44. She had a son by him named Cæsarion, who was afterwards put to death by Octavius. After the death of Cæsar, she fled to Egypt, and in the troubles which ensued she took the side of the Triumvirate, and assisted Dolabella both by sea and land, resisting the threats of Cassius, who was preparing to attack her when he was called away by the entreaties of Brutus. She also sailed in person with a considerable fleet to assist Antony after the defeat of Dolabella, but was prevented from joining him by a storm and the bad state of her health. She had however done sufficient to prove her attachment to Cæsar's memory (which seems to have been sincere), and also to furnish her with arguments to use to Antony, who in the end of the year 41 came into Asia Minor, and there summoned Cleopatra to attend, on the charge of having failed to co-operate with the Triumvirate against Cæsar's murderers. She was now in her twenty-eighth year, and in the perfection of matured beauty, which in conjunction with her talents and eloquence, and perhaps the early impression which we have mentioned, completely won the heart of Antony. The first use Cleopatra made of her influence was to procure the death of her younger sister, Arsinoë, who had once set up a claim to the kingdom. Her brother, Ptolemy, she seems to have made away with before, by poison. Her connexion with Antony was interrupted for a short time by his marriage with Octavia, but was renewed on his return from Italy, and again on his return from his Parthian expedition, when she went to meet him in Syria with money and provisions for his army. According to Josephus, Cleopatra during Antony's expedition went into Judæa, part of which Antony had assigned to her and Herod had necessarily ceded, and there attempted to win Herod by her charms, probably with a view to his ruin, but failed, and was in danger of being put to death by him. The report, however, of Octavia's having left Rome to join Antony, made Cleopatra tremble for her influence, and she therefore exerted all her powers of pleasing to endeavour to retain it. From this time Antony appears quite infatuated by his attachment, and willing to humour every caprice of Cleopatra. We find her assuming the title of Isis, and giving audience in that dress to ambassadors, that of Osiris being adopted by Antony, and their children called by the title of the Sun and the Moon, and declared heirs of unbounded territories. One can hardly wonder that Octavius should represent Antony to the Romans as ‘bewitched by that accursed Egyptian’; and he was not slow in availing himself of the disgust, which Antony's conduct occasioned, to make a determined effort to crush him. War, however, was declared against Cleopatra, and not against Antony, as a less invidious way. Cleopatra, indeed, persuaded Antony to retreat to Egypt, but the attack of Octavius frustrated this intention, and the famous battle took place (b.c. 31), in the midst of which, when fortune was wavering between the two parties, Cleopatra gave a signal of retreat to her fleet, and herself led the way. Cleopatra died b.c. 30, in the thirty-ninth year of her age, and with her ended the dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt. She had three children by Antony: Alexander and Cleopatra, who were twins, and Ptolemy Philadelphus.
 Octavia W. Smith (Dict. s. v.): Octavia, the younger daughter of C. Octavius, by his second wife, Atia, and own sister* of the emperor, Augustus, was married first to C. Marcellus, Consul b.c. 50, and subsequently to the Triumvir, M. Antonius. She lost her husband towards the latter end of b.c. 41; and as Fulvia, the wife of Antony, died about the same time, Octavius and Antony, who had lately been at variance, cemented their reconciliation by the marriage of Octavia to Antony. This marriage caused the greatest joy among all classes, and especially in the army, and was regarded as a harbinger of a lasting peace. Octavius was warmly attached to his sister, and she possessed all the charms, accomplishments and virtues likely to fascinate the affections and secure a lasting influence over the mind of a husband. Her beauty was universally allowed to be superior to that of Cleopatra, and her virtue was such as to excite even admiration in an age of growing licentiousness and corruption. Nor at first did this union disappoint public expectation. By the side of Octavia, Antony for a time forgot Cleopatra, and the misunderstandings and jealousies which had again arisen between her brother and husband, and which threatened an open rupture in the year 36, were removed by her influence and intervention. But Antony had by this time become tired of his wife; and longed to rejoin Cleopatra. The war with the Parthians summoned him to the East. Octavia accompanied him from Italy as far as Corcyra, but upon arriving at that island he sent her back to her brother, under the pretext of not exposing her to the perils and hardships of the war. On arriving in Asia, Antony soon forgot, in the society of Cleopatra, both his wife and the Parthians. Octavia, however, resolved to make an effort to regain her husband. In the following year, b.c. 35, she set out from Italy with reinforcements of men and money to assist Antony in his war against Artavasdes, king of Armenia; but Antony resolved not to meet her and sent her a message, when she had arrived as far as Athens, requesting her to return home. Octavia obeyed; she was great-minded enough to send him the money and troops, and he mean enough to accept them. On her return to Rome, Octavius ordered her to leave her husband's house and come and reside with him, but she refused to do so, and would not appear as one of the causes of the war; she remained in her husband's abode, where she educated Antony's younger son, by Fulvia, with her own children. But this noble conduct had no effect upon the hardened heart of Antony, who had become the complete slave of Cleopatra; and when the war broke out in b.c. 32, he sent his faithful wife a bill of divorce. After the death of Antony she still remained true to the interests of his children, notwithstanding the wrongs she had received from their father. For Julius, the younger son of Antony, by Fulvia, she obtained the special favour of Augustus, and she even brought up with maternal care his children by Cleopatra. She died in b.c. 11. 1
 Charmian, Iras And Cæsar sayed furthermore, that Antonius was not Maister of himselfe, but that Cleopatra had brought him beside himselfe, by her charmes and amarous poysons: and that they that shoulde make warre with them, should be Mardian the Eunuch, Photinus, and Iras, a woman of Cleopatraes bedchamber, that frizeled her haire, and dressed her head, and Charmion, the which were those that ruled all the affaires of Antonius Empire.—Plutarch. See Appendix.[In the foregoing brief accounts, no attempt is made to show where Shakespeare has deserted history. Collier: ‘The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra’ occupies twenty-nine pages of the Folio of 1623; viz., from p. 340 to p. 368 inclusive, in the division of ‘Tragedies.’ Although at the beginning it has Actus Primus, Scæna Prima, it is not divided into acts and scenes, nor is the defect cured in any of the subsequent folio impressions of 1632, 1664, and 1685. They are all without any list of characters. —Ed.] 1. Coleridge (p. 315): Shakespeare can be complimented only by comparison with himself: all other eulogies are either heterogeneous, as when they are in reference to Spenser or Milton; or they are flat truisms, as when he is gravely preferred to Corneille, Racine, or even his own immediate successors, Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger and the rest. The highest praise, or rather form of praise, of this play, which I can offer in my own mind, is the doubt which the perusal always occasions in me, whether the ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ is not, in all exhibitions of a giant power in its strength and vigour of maturity, a formidable rival of ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Lear,’ ‘Hamlet,’ and ‘Othello.’ Feliciter audax is the motto for its style comparatively with that of Shakespeare's other works, even as it is the general motto of all his works compared with those of other poets. Be it remembered, too, that this happy valiancy of style is but the representative and result of all the material excellencies so expressed. This play should be perused in mental contrast with ‘Romeo and Juliet;’—as the love of passion and appetite opposed to the love of affection and instinct. But the art displayed in the character of Cleopatra is profound; in this, especially, that the sense of criminality in her passion is lessened by our insight into its depth and energy, at the very moment that we cannot but perceive that the passion itself springs out of the habitual craving of a licentious nature, and that it is supported and reinforced by voluntary stimulus and sought-for associations, instead of blossoming out of spontaneous emotion. Of all Shakespeare's historical plays, ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ is by far the most wonderful. There is not one in which he has followed history so minutely, and yet there are few in which he impresses the notion of angelic strength so much;—perhaps none in which he impresses it more strongly. This is greatly owing to the manner in which the fiery force is sustained throughout, and to the numerous momentary flashes of nature counteracting the historic abstraction. As a wonderful specimen of the way in which Shakespeare lives up to the very end of this play, read the last part of the concluding scene. And if you would feel the judgement as well as the genius of Shakespeare in your heart's core, compare this astonishing drama with Dryden's ‘All for Love.’ A. W. Schlegel (iii, 173): Antony and Cleopatra may be, in some measure, considered as a continuation of Julius Cæsar: the two principal characters, Antony and Augustus, are in both pieces equally sustained. Antony and Cleopatra is a play of great compass, its progress is less simple than in Julius Cæsar. The fullness and variety of the political and warlike events, which ultimately brought about the union of the threefold division of the Roman empire under one master, were perhaps too vast to be combined for a distinct survey in one dramatic picture. This it is wherein precisely lies the great difficulty of the historical drama, it must be at the same time a condensed epitome of history and a vivid expansion of it; this difficulty Shakespeare has for the most part successfully overcome. Here, however, many things, which occur in the background, are intimated only in such a way as to presuppose an intimate knowledge of history, and the comprehension of a work of art should never depend on any extrinsic information. Many persons of historical importance appear and disappear in passing; the preparatory and co-operating circumstances are not adequately massed so as not to distract our view. The principal personages emerge, nevertheless, in outline and colour most forcibly, and arrest the imagination. In Antony we observe a combination of great qualities, weaknesses, and vices; powerful ambition and magnanimous emotions; we see his degradation in luxurious enjoyment and his noble shame at his own lapses,—inspirited to follow noble resolutions which are in turn shattered by the seductions of a woman. It is Hercules in the chains of Omphale, transferred from the fabulous heroic age to authentic history, and clad in the Roman toga. The seductive arts of Cleopatra are displayed without a veil; she is also an ambiguous creature composed of royal pride, feminine vanity, luxury, inconstancy, and genuine attachment. Although the reciprocal passion of herself and Antony is morally worthless, it still excites our sympathy as an insurmountable fascination; they seem formed for each other, inasmuch as Cleopatra stands quite as much alone for her seductive charm as Antony for his splendid deeds. As they die for each other, we forgive them for having lived for each other. The open-hearted and lavish character of Antony is excellently contrasted with the heartless littleness of Octavius Cæsar, whom Shakespeare completely saw through, without allowing himself to be led astray by the fortune and fame of Augustus. Hazlitt (p. 102): Shakespeare's genius has spread over the whole play a richness like the overflowing of the Nile. 6. Nay, but, etc.] Shakespeare's art in beginning his plays in the midst of a dialogue is so skilful that there is a certain feeling of loss, as though we had been deprived of some pleasing conversation; and that if we had come only a minute sooner, we should have heard something entertaining. Thus Othello begins:—‘Tush! never tell me.’ ‘You do not meet a man but frowns.’—Cymbeline. ‘My lord, I'll tell you.’—Henry V. etc.—Ed.