This scene reveals more of the crucial developments in the aftermath of Caesar’s death, and most notably the development of Antony’s character (hints of which were given in 3.2). 4.1 opens with the triumvirate of Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus, a triumvirate that will eventually take power, and that Shakespeare explores again in Antony and Cleopatra. The opening is furhter significant because they are discussing which of their enemies should be marked down for death, and these enemies include relatives. Clearly Roman politics is a cut-throat business! The only slightly redeeming feature is that all three apparently have to agree. When Lepidus is dispatched quickly on an errand, much else becomes clear as Antony now dominates the scene, not only by what he says but by the sheer length of his speeches. After Lepidus’s exit, Octavius speaks only nine lines. Foremost is Antony’s essential disgust with and dismissal of Lepidus, “a slight unmeritable man” good only “to be sent on errands.” Antony also believes Lepidus does not warrant being part of the triumvirate. In his brief speeches Octavius attempts to argue Lepidus’s worth–“he’s a tried and valiant soldier”–but the brevity of his remarks alone show how weak they are. The only slightly curious aspect to Antony’s remarks is the fact that he does spend so much time in pointing out Lepidus’s weaknesses, etc. The answer may lie in Shakespeare’s desire to expand upon Antony’s ruthlessness and to illustrate his control of the situation. On the latter point, Antony already knows “Brutus and Cassius / Are levying powers” and proposes a line of action to meet their threat.
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