Plutarch's Life of Antony
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The play was performed first circa . Historical facts are also changed: in Plutarch, Antony's final defeat was many weeks after the Battle of Actium, and . Other scholars also discuss early critics' views of Cleopatra in relation to a serpent signifying "original sin". Free Essay: Destructive Power Relationships in Antony and Cleopatra Antony These conflicting views are instrumental in the way that Cleopatra and Antony act . lives were contained in primarily one document: Plutarch's Lives of the Noble . And what opinion Caesar himself had of him well appeared when for the final .. for relations and affection for friends; and Caesar [Octavian] sacrificed Cicero to .. Stories of the extravagance of Antony and Cleopatra, as related by Plutarch's .
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However, during the Battle of Actium off the western coast of Greece, Cleopatra flees with her sixty ships, and Antony follows her, leaving his forces to ruin. Ashamed of what he has done for the love of Cleopatra, Antony reproaches her for making him a coward, but also sets this true and deep love above all else, saying "Give me a kiss; even this repays me. She hesitates, and flirts with the messenger, when Antony walks in and angrily denounces her behavior.
He sends the messenger to be whipped. Eventually, he forgives Cleopatra and pledges to fight another battle for her, this time on land. On the eve of the battle, Antony's soldiers hear strange portents, which they interpret as the god Hercules abandoning his protection of Antony. Furthermore, Enobarbus, Antony's long-serving lieutenant, deserts him and goes over to Octavius' side. Rather than confiscating Enobarbus' goods, which Enobarbus did not take with him when he fled, Antony orders them to be sent to Enobarbus.
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. 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.
Plutarch's View of the Relationship Between Antony and Cleopatra
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: One example of this is his schema of the container as suggested by critic Donald Freeman in his article, "The rack dislimns.
An example of the body in reference to the container can be seen in the following passage: Nay, but this dotage of our general's O'erflows the measure.
Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper And is become the bellows and the fan To cool a gypsy's lust. Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall!
Here is my space! Conversely we come to understand Cleopatra in that the container of her mortality can no longer restrain her. Unlike Antony whose container melts, she gains a sublimity being released into the air.
In general, characters associated with Egypt perceive their world composed of the Aristotelian elements, which are earth, wind, fire and water. These differing systems of thought and perception result in very different versions of nation and empire.
Shakespeare's relatively positive representation of Egypt has sometimes been read as nostalgia for an heroic past. Because the Aristotelian elements were a declining theory in Shakespeare's time, it can also be read as nostalgia for a waning theory of the material world, the pre-seventeenth-century cosmos of elements and humours that rendered subject and world deeply interconnected and saturated with meaning. Critics also suggest that the political attitudes of the main characters are an allegory for the political atmosphere of Shakespeare's time.
Essentially the political themes throughout the play are reflective of the different models of rule during Shakespeare's time. The political attitudes of Antony, Caesar, and Cleopatra are all basic archetypes for the conflicting sixteenth-century views of kingship. His cold demeanour is representative of what the sixteenth century thought to be a side-effect of political genius  Conversely, Antony's focus is on valour and chivalryand Antony views the political power of victory as a by-product of both.
Cleopatra's power has been described as "naked, hereditary, and despotic,"  and it is argued that she is reminiscent of Mary Tudor's reign—implying it is not coincidence that she brings about the "doom of Egypt.
Plutarch's View Of The Relationship Between Anthony And Cleopatra
Cleopatra, who was emotionally invested in Antony, brought about the downfall of Egypt in her commitment to love, whereas Mary Tudor's emotional attachment to Catholicism fates her rule.
The political implications within the play reflect on Shakespeare's England in its message that Impact is not a match for Reason. While some characters are distinctly Egyptian, others are distinctly Roman, some are torn between the two, and still others attempt to remain neutral. Rome as it is perceived from a Roman point of view; Rome as it is perceived from an Egyptian point of view; Egypt as it is perceived form a Roman point of view; and Egypt as it is perceived from an Egyptian point of view.
According to Hirsh, Rome largely defines itself by its opposition to Egypt. In fact, even the distinction between masculine and feminine is a purely Roman idea which the Egyptians largely ignore. The Romans view the "world" as nothing more than something for them to conquer and control. They believe they are "impervious to environmental influence"  and that they are not to be influenced and controlled by the world but vice versa. Rome from the Egyptian perspective: The Egyptians view the Romans as boring, oppressive, strict and lacking in passion and creativity, preferring strict rules and regulations.
The Egyptian World view reflects what Mary Floyd-Wilson has called geo-humoralism, or the belief that climate and other environmental factors shapes racial character. Egypt is not a location for them to rule over, but an inextricable part of them.
They view life as more fluid and less structured allowing for creativity and passionate pursuits. Egypt from the Roman perspective: The Romans view the Egyptians essentially as improper.