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Real Name


First Appearance

Twelfth Night

Created by

William Shakespeare


Antonio is a sea captain who rescued Viola's twin brother Sebastian after the twins shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria (in the Balkan Peninsula), and nurtured him back to health, helping him recover from the experience.

Antonio became extremely fond of the young man, who was nevertheless devastated by the belief that his sister had drowned. Unbeknownst to both of them, she had actually survived and believed in turn that Sebastian was the one who had died.

It is later revealed that Antonio was also a fugitive in Illyria, being hunted by Duke Orsino's guards who claim he is a thief and a pirate. Antonio doesn't consider himself a criminal, but admits to Sebastian that he's engaged in armed conflict with Illyrian vessels, though he also claims to have not killed anyone. As they need to proceed with caution to avoid Orsino's guards, the two eventually part ways, with Antonio trusting Sebastian with his money purse, should he need it.

Meanwhile, Viola had disguised herself as a man and became a personal servant of Orsino, due to her unrequited love for him, as she wished to stay close to him. Since the two siblings are so similar, the crossdressed Viola was essentially indistinguishable from Sebastian, whom she believed was dead. The Duke ordered Viola to send messages to his beloved, Lady Olivia. However, Olivia ended up falling in love with the disguised Viola, which put the young crossdressed maiden in great trouble as another suitor, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, challenged her to a sword fight to prove her value.

Terrified by the fact that she wasn't really a man and had never learned how to fight, Viola was fortunately saved by the timely arrival of Antonio, who mistook her for Sebastian and offered to fight in "his" place - which illustrates Antonio's undying devotion to his young friend. In the confusion that ensues, Antonio briefly duels with Sir Toby Belch, who is a friend of Sir Andrew.

When the guards arrive, Antonio is recognized as a fugitive and promptly arrested. He approaches Viola (still believing her to be Sebastian) as asks her for some of his money back. Viola, understandably confused, claims that she's thankful for his assistance but doesn't know who he is or what he's talking about. Even though she does offer the little amount of money that she carries, Antonio is furious at what he perceives as a betrayal, as he believes "Sebastian" lied about not knowing him to avoid being charged as an accomplice.

The whole matter is only resolved at the end, when the siblings finally reunite and Viola reveals her identity. Duke Orsino, having been impressed by her devotion to him, proposed to marry her, much to her own delight. Sebastian ends up marrying Olivia.


  • He is one of four Antonios featured in the works of Shakespeare, the others being from The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest.
  • It's worth noting that in both Twelfth Night and The Tempest, the character named Antonio is accompanied by a character named Sebastian.