Plutarch and Shakespeare Compared

The Life of Marcus Antonius Antony and Cleopatra
There [in Rome] his [Antony's] wife Octavia, who came from Greece with him, obtained leave to visit her brother, she being then great with child, having already borne her husband a second daughter; and as she was on her way she met Caesar, with his two friends Agrippa and Maecenas, and, taking these two aside, with great entreaties and lamentations she told them, that of the most fortunate woman upon earth, she was in danger of becoming the most unhappy; for as yet every one's eyes were fixed upon her as the wife and sister of the two great commanders, but, if rash counsels should prevail, and war ensue, "I shall be miserable," said she, "without redress; for on what side soever victory falls, I shall be sure to be a loser."


Octavius


MARK ANTONY
Gentle Octavia,
Let your best love draw to that point, which seeks
Best to preserve it: if I lose mine honour,
I lose myself: better I were not yours
Than yours so branchless. But, as you requested,
Yourself shall go between 's: the mean time, lady,
I'll raise the preparation of a war
Shall stain your brother: make your soonest haste;
So your desires are yours.

III.iv.20-28

OCTAVIA
Hail, Caesar, and my lord! hail, most dear Caesar!
OCTAVIUS CAESAR
That ever I should call thee castaway!
OCTAVIA
You have not call'd me so, nor have you cause.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR
Why have you stol'n upon us thus! You come not
Like Caesar's sister: the wife of Antony
Should have an army for an usher, and
The neighs of horse to tell of her approach
Long ere she did appear; the trees by the way
Should have borne men; and expectation fainted,
Longing for what it had not; nay, the dust
Should have ascended to the roof of heaven,
Raised by your populous troops: but you are come
A market-maid to Rome; and have prevented
The ostentation of our love, which, left unshown,
Is often left unloved; we should have met you
By sea and land; supplying every stage
With an augmented greeting.
OCTAVIA
Good my lord,
To come thus was I not constrain'd, but did
On my free will. My lord, Mark Antony,
Hearing that you prepared for war, acquainted
My grieved ear withal; whereon, I begg'd
His pardon for return..

III.vi.38-60


Commentary:

Shakespeare has it at this point that Caesar tells Octavia that Antony has left for Egypt and Cleopatra. Plutarch's version is slighlty different, writing that with Ocavia's intervantion, peace between Caesar and Antony was established, and then Antony left for Egypt, a more sensible move politically.
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