Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World by Diana Preston
Cleopatra Quotes. I worked at The I think I did 'Antony and Cleopatra' and 'The Taming of the Shrew'. I lived in Her relationships are too convenient for that. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “Antony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from It seems as if there is betrayal is abounding in every relationship. Sep 21, This quote reveals how Cleopatra will react to Mark Antony's marriage The Soothsayer tells Mark Antony to be careful of his relationship.
Antony becomes like part of East, and is seen to be of Egypt. Their interaction as embodiments of Rome and Egypt can thus be considered as an interaction between Rome and Egypt themselves. The characters are therefore ruled on two levels: Also seen in the play is the depiction of Egypt as a pastoral, happier place.
Unlike most pastorals however, it is not merely presented as a convenient place to escape momentarily from Rome. Rather, it is taken seriously, unlike in comedies such as the forest of Arden in As You Like It first performed in Further, Rome is looked upon as the masculine binary opposite to Egypt.
Lines 83—85Shakespeare plays on the derivation of virtue from virtus, in its turn derived from vir- Latin for man. Thus Roman virtue is a marker of sexual difference crucial to construction of the male subject- the Roman hero.Shakespeare Summarized: Antony and Cleopatra
This is negated by Shakespeare however, as wounds are central to the Roman masculine body. This presents a problematic, self-cancelling figuration of masculinity in the Roman works, which allows the reader or audience to see the opposition between Rome and Egypt in a Manichean view, displaying everything in contrasting, extreme terms of black or white, divided between Rome and Egypt and therefore masculinity and femininity.
The audience in a similar way is kept from boredom with one setting. The regions also provide a lens of interpretation that depends on regional values and differences; that is, a culture gap. Egypt is seen here as a cultural other to Rome, and vice-versa. Further, although Rome too is an other to Egypt, it is seen to be in a superior position since it holds both the political as well as the narrative upper hand. The glory of the Ptolemies, and of the whole Greek world, was much diminished from its former greatness.
Indeed, of all the independent kingdoms that had been established amid the fracturing of Alexander's empire, only Egypt still retained her independence. The rest had succumbed to the expansionary ambitions of a new power, a republic, and sternly contemptous of monarchs: That the Ptolemies themselves were permitted to survive was a reflection not of their strength, but rather of their pitiful weakness. Egypt was a land of unrivalled fertility and the Roman general who conquered Alexandria would have the bread-basket of the Mediterranean in his hands.
By unwritten consent, a prize so dazzling was a prize too far. In the view of most Romans, it was safer and just as profitable to leave the Ptolemies to administer the costs of their own exploitation. A succession of Cleopatra's forebears had played the role of the Republic's poodle to perfection: On such a humiliating basis were they permitted to limp along.
Antony & Cleopatra Play: Overview & Resources for Antony & Cleopatra
By the mid-1st Century BC, however, the Republic was starting to implode, and the shock-waves, inevitably, were soon reverberating throughout Alexandria.
In 49 BC, Rome's greatest general, Julius Caesar, launched a civil war that would ultimately result in his establishing a dictatorship amid the rubble of his city's ancient constitution - and give Cleopatra her first stab at restoring her family's fortunes. When Caesar arrived in Alexandria in 48 BC, he quickly found himself embroiled in a dynastic death-struggle between the 21 year old queen and her younger brother.
Cleopatra acted with typical decisiveness. First she had herself smuggled into Caesar's presence rolled up in a carpet; then she got herself pregnant by him; finally, with her brother defeated and killed, and herself securely upon Egypt's throne, she followed Caesar to Rome. The whole city was agog. It was said that Caesar planned to move the seat of empire to Alexandria, that he planned to marry Cleopatra, that he aimed to proclaim her the mistress of the world.
Then, on the Ides of March, 44 BC, all such speculation was bloodily silenced.
His murderers proclaimed the restoration of the Republic. Cleopatra, sensing that this was no time for her to linger in Rome, hot-footed it back home. And there, as the Roman world succumbed to a renewed spasm of civil war, she remained. Caesar's assassins, unable to win Italy for their cause, also fled to the East. Meanwhile, Rome herself was placed under martial law by a triumvirate of the three most prominent Caesarians: In 42 BC, Antony and Octavian together won a great battle outside the Macedonian city of Philippi, destroying the army of Caesar's assassins, and effectively securing the entire Roman empire for themselves.
The two victors, sidelining Lepidus to a sinecure in Africa, portioned it up. Octavian, returning to Rome, received the West. Enobarbus is so overwhelmed by Antony's generosity, and so ashamed of his own disloyalty, that he dies from a broken heart.
Antony loses the battle as his troops desert en masse and he denounces Cleopatra: Cleopatra decides that the only way to win back Antony's love is to send him word that she killed herself, dying with his name on her lips. She locks herself in her monument, and awaits Antony's return. He begs one of his aides, Eros, to run him through with a sword, but Eros cannot bear to do it and kills himself. Antony admires Eros' courage and attempts to do the same, but only succeeds in wounding himself.
In great pain, he learns that Cleopatra is indeed alive. He is hoisted up to her in her monument and dies in her arms. Octavius goes to Cleopatra trying to persuade her to surrender. She angrily refuses since she can imagine nothing worse than being led in chains through the streets of Rome, proclaimed a villain for the ages.
Cleopatra is betrayed and taken into custody by the Romans.
She gives Octavius what she claims is a complete account of her wealth but is betrayed by her treasurer, who claims she is holding treasure back. Octavius reassures her that he is not interested in her wealth, but Dolabella warns her that he intends to parade her at his triumph. Cleopatra kills herself using the venomous bite of an aspimagining how she will meet Antony again in the afterlife.
Her serving maids Iras and Charmian also die, Iras from heartbreak and Charmian from another asp. Octavius discovers the dead bodies and experiences conflicting emotions. Antony's and Cleopatra's deaths leave him free to become the first Roman Emperorbut he also feels some sympathy for them. He orders a public military funeral. Sources[ edit ] Roman painting from the House of Giuseppe II, Pompeiiearly 1st century AD, most likely depicting Cleopatra VIIwearing her royal diademconsuming poison in an act of suicidewhile her son Caesarionalso wearing a royal diadem, stands behind her   Cleopatra and Mark Antony on the obverse and reverse, respectively, of a silver tetradrachm struck at the Antioch mint in 36 BC The principal source for the story is an English translation of Plutarch's "Life of Mark Antony," from the Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans Compared Together.
This translationby Sir Thomas Northwas first published in Many phrases in Shakespeare's play are taken directly from North, including Enobarbus' famous description of Cleopatra and her barge: I will tell you.
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne, Burn'd on the water: For her own person, It beggar'd all description: This may be compared with North's text: And now for the person of her selfe: Historical facts are also changed: Date and text[ edit ] The first page of Antony and Cleopatra from the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays, published in Many scholars believe it was written in —07, [a] although some researchers have argued for an earlier dating, around — The Folio is therefore the only authoritative text we have today.
Some scholars speculate that it derives from Shakespeare's own draft, or "foul papers", since it contains minor errors in speech labels and stage directions that are thought to be characteristic of the author in the process of composition.
His play is articulated in forty separate "scenes", more than he used for any other play. Even the word "scenes" may be inappropriate as a description, as the scene changes are often very fluid, almost montage -like. The large number of scenes is necessary because the action frequently switches between Alexandria, Italy, Messina in Sicily, Syria, Athensand other parts of Egypt and the Roman Republic.
The play contains thirty-four speaking characters, fairly typical for a Shakespeare play on such an epic scale. Analysis and criticism[ edit ] Classical allusions and analogues: Dido and Aeneas from Virgil's Aeneid[ edit ] Many critics have noted the strong influence of Virgil 's first-century Roman epic poem, the Aeneidon Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.
Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World
Such influence should be expected, given the prevalence of allusions to Virgil in the Renaissance culture in which Shakespeare was educated. Moreover, as is well-known, the historical Antony and Cleopatra were the prototypes and antitypes for Virgil's Dido and Aeneas: Didoruler of the north African city of Carthagetempts Aeneasthe legendary exemplar of Roman pietasto forego his task of founding Rome after the fall of Troy. The fictional Aeneas dutifully resists Dido's temptation and abandons her to forge on to Italy, placing political destiny before romantic love, in stark contrast to Antony, who puts passionate love of his own Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, before duty to Rome.
As Janet Adelman observes, "almost all the central elements in Antony and Cleopatra are to be found in the Aeneid: James emphasizes the various ways in which Shakespeare's play subverts the ideology of the Virgilian tradition; one such instance of this subversion is Cleopatra's dream of Antony in Act 5 "I dreamt there was an Emperor Antony" [5.
James argues that in her extended description of this dream, Cleopatra "reconstructs the heroic masculinity of an Antony whose identity has been fragmented and scattered by Roman opinion. Perhaps the most famous dichotomy is that of the manipulative seductress versus the skilled leader. Examining the critical history of the character of Cleopatra reveals that intellectuals of the 19th century and the early 20th century viewed her as merely an object of sexuality that could be understood and diminished rather than an imposing force with great poise and capacity for leadership.
This phenomenon is illustrated by the famous poet T. Eliot 's take on Cleopatra. He saw her as "no wielder of power," but rather that her "devouring sexuality Throughout his writing on Antony and Cleopatra, Eliot refers to Cleopatra as material rather than person.
He frequently calls her "thing". Eliot conveys the view of early critical history on the character of Cleopatra.
Other scholars also discuss early critics' views of Cleopatra in relation to a serpent signifying " original sin ". The postmodern view of Cleopatra is complex. Doris Adler suggests that, in a postmodern philosophical sense, we cannot begin to grasp the character of Cleopatra because, "In a sense it is a distortion to consider Cleopatra at any moment apart from the entire cultural milieu that creates and consumes Antony and Cleopatra on stage.
However the isolation and microscopic examination of a single aspect apart from its host environment is an effort to improve the understanding of the broader context. In similar fashion, the isolation and examination of the stage image of Cleopatra becomes an attempt to improve the understanding of the theatrical power of her infinite variety and the cultural treatment of that power.
Fitz believes that it is not possible to derive a clear, postmodern view of Cleopatra due to the sexism that all critics bring with them when they review her intricate character. He states specifically, "Almost all critical approaches to this play have been coloured by the sexist assumptions the critics have brought with them to their reading. Freeman's articulations of the meaning and significance of the deaths of both Antony and Cleopatra at the end of the play.
Freeman states, "We understand Antony as a grand failure because the container of his Romanness "dislimns": Conversely, we understand Cleopatra at her death as the transcendent queen of "immortal longings" because the container of her mortality can no longer restrain her: Royster suggests that contemporary interpretations of Cleopatra consider her African-American traits: Arthur Holmberg surmises, "What had at first seemed like a desperate attempt to be chic in a trendy New York manner was, in fact, an ingenious way to characterise the differences between Antony's Rome and Cleopatra's Egypt.
Most productions rely on rather predictable contrasts in costuming to imply the rigid discipline of the former and the languid self-indulgence of the latter. By exploiting ethnic differences in speech, gesture, and movement, Parsons rendered the clash between two opposing cultures not only contemporary but also poignant.
In this setting, the white Egyptians represented a graceful and ancient aristocracy—well groomed, elegantly poised, and doomed. The Romans, upstarts from the West, lacked finesse and polish. But by sheer brute strength they would hold dominion over principalities and kingdoms. Cleopatra is a difficult character to pin down because there are multiple aspects of her personality that we occasionally get a glimpse of.
However, the most dominant parts of her character seem to oscillate between a powerful ruler, a seductress, and a heroine of sorts. Power is one of Cleopatra's most dominant character traits and she uses it as a means of control. This thirst for control manifested itself through Cleopatra's initial seduction of Antony in which she was dressed as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and made quite a calculated entrance in order to capture his attention.
Cleopatra had quite a wide influence, and still continues to inspire, making her a heroine to many. Egypt and Rome[ edit ] A drawing by Faulkner of Cleopatra greeting Antony The relationship between Egypt and Rome in Antony and Cleopatra is central to understanding the plot, as the dichotomy allows the reader to gain more insight into the characters, their relationships, and the ongoing events that occur throughout the play.
Shakespeare emphasises the differences between the two nations with his use of language and literary devices, which also highlight the different characterizations of the two countries by their own inhabitants and visitors. Literary critics have also spent many years developing arguments concerning the "masculinity" of Rome and the Romans and the "femininity" of Egypt and the Egyptians. In traditional criticism of Antony and Cleopatra, "Rome has been characterised as a male world, presided over by the austere Caesar, and Egypt as a female domain, embodied by a Cleopatra who is seen to be as abundant, leaky, and changeable as the Nile".
The straightforwardness of the binary between male Rome and female Egypt has been challenged in later 20th-century criticism of the play: