As with Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Timon of Athens, Shakespeare's chief source for Antony and Cleopatra was Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes (1579), a work which enabled Shakespeare and his contemporaries to reflect on the relative merits of monarchical and republican political traditions, and on ideals of manly virtue and heroism. Shakespeare brings this reflection into sharper focus by reducing Plutarch's emphasis on Antony's vain and dissolute personality and augmenting the character of Enobarbus as a presenter of the paradoxical romance between Antony and Cleopatra — a tale which can be read as dramatising how a potentially virtuous hero is …
Clark, Robert. "Antony and Cleopatra". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6560, accessed 28 April 2015.]