Coppélia Kahn notes that Cleopatra was "Rome's most dangerous enemy" (111),i but how does one make the Queen of the Nile seem like such a threat during a time when women had little social and political power. Shakespeare does several things to accomplish this task: 1) he locates Cleopatra's power in a foreign or supernatural realm; 2) he inverts her gender role with that of Antony; 3) he suppresses her maternal qualities; and 4) he allows her to be redeemed only in death. Indeed, it is the only way to handle a difficult woman on the Jacobean stage. Locating Codes of Female Power In Antony and Cleopatra, the Roman values of honor and bravery embody masculinity, while Egypt and the Orient symbolize feminine weakness and fragility. Caesar and Agrippa are depicted as reasonable, logical, and practical, especially in matters of strategy and war.
Due to biased Roman sources, the way in which modern society views both Cleopatra and Boudicca is far removed from the entire truth. Cleopatra is portrayed today as a physically beautiful harlot and the fact that her story is impossibly intertwined with both Julius Caesar’s and Marc Antony’s provide a source for gossip. She is also misrepresented through various plays and films including William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Elizabeth Taylor’s portrayal of Cleopatra in Cleopatra (INCLUDE A PIC ON MY POWERPOINT!!! ALSO DESCRIBE THIS). Many of the false claims surrounding Cleopatra stem from Octavian’s propaganda during his civil war with Marc Antony.
In his Roman Lives, Plutarch offers a biased historical account of Mark Anthony with frequent references to Cleopatra. According to M.S. Mason, Plutarch does not fulfill his role as an objective historian and deliberately vilifies the character of Cleopatra (Mason). It is almost a completely negative portrayal of the Egyptian queen. She is referred to as a “charmer” (Waterfield 343) with “devastating effects on Caesar” (514).
Within the first page of Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra", the Roman's narrow perspective of Cleopatra is presented to the audience. Throughout the book she is referred to as "a whore" (III.vi.67), "wrangling queen" (I.i.50), and a "lustful gypsy" (I.i.10). The Roman image of Cleopatra is solely based on complaints of Antony's neglected duties to Rome. To see Cleopatra in this light alone would deprive the audience of truly understanding one of Shakespeare's most captivating female characters. It would be a mistake to completely disregard the Roman view of Cleopatra.
Antony is a disgrace to his Roman self, and "loses himself to dotage" of Cleopatra. He also forgets of his marriage to Caesars sister Octavia and flees back to Egypt, to Cleopatra. If Antony flees to Cleopatra of his own free will, then how is she responsible for his actions? Cleopatra, however, is to blame for Antonys acceptance of her military whims Antony is to blame for his own bad judgement but, defeat by a woman is was virtually unheard of in the patriarchal society of Rome. We can argue that Cleopatra effeminizes Antony, to some extent, this is true.
Both Virgil and Milton portray femininity and women as a threat to the divine higher order of things by showing women as unable to appreciate the larger picture outside their own domestic or personal concerns. For example, in the Aeneid, it is Dido, the Queen of Carthage, who out of all the battles and conflicts faced by Aeneas, posed to the biggest threat to his divinely-assigned objective of founding a new Troy. Like Calypso detains Odysseus in Homer's epic, Dido detains Aeneas from his nostos to his "ancient mother" (II, 433) of Italy, but unlike Calypso, after Dido is abandoned by Aeneas she becomes distraught; she denounces Aeneas in violent rhetoric and curses his descendents before finally committing suicide. Therefore, Virgil demonstrates how women have a potent and dangerous resource of emotions, which can ambush even the most pious of men. Indeed, Dido's emotional penetrate the "duty-bound" (III, 545) Aeneas who "sighed his heart ou... ... middle of paper ... ...to mankind in Paradise Lost - one of the fundamental concepts in Christianity and vital to Milton's objective to "justify the ways of God to men" (1, 26) - the gods in the Aeneid are continually reminding Aeneas that he cannot afford to be distractive by the temptresses that are women because the future of Rome lays in his hands.
She braves a rainstorm of obstacles to conquer and reveal the evil doings of the plays antagonists and to complete her heros journey. A nineteenth century actress who once played this leading role suggested that the play be retitled Imogen, Princess of Britain.1 One critic described Shakespeares Cymbeline as tragical- comical- historical- pastoral, for the play exhibits qualities of every category and draws upon every emotion. The story is set during a conflict between Britains King Cymbeline and Romes Octavious Caesar. Cymbelines matriarch is tainted by the evil queen and her arrogant Prince Cloten, who is predestined to marry Princess Imogen. However, Imogen can not bear the arrangement and therefore chooses to marry her Roman lover instead.
I feel that Cleopatra's special personality and "infinite variety", which was perfect for Egyptian life, was not right for the tactics and military battles involved in Antony's Roman power struggle. Cleopatra used the varying aspects of her character to find a role in his struggle. But unfortunately for Antony her only success was in the final scene where her deception of Caesar allowed her suicide and reunification with her lost Antony.
Dio had similar views, as he says that the fact that Rome’s ruin was brought by a woman ‘caused them the greatest shame’. In going on to describe her terrifying stature and fierce demeanour, Roman writing is shown to reduce Boudicca to little more than a barbarian, in order to lessen their discomfort with Boudicca’s defiance of gender stereotypes. Because these are the sole accounts of Boudicca from classical times, this image has continued throughout history. During the rule of James I (1603-25), the first male monarch since Boudicca’s rise in popularity during the Renaissance, people focused on the negative portrayals perpetuated by the Romans. John Flet... ... middle of paper ... ... the ancient queen.
Only absolute political necessity can draw him from Egypt, and even then he recognises that ‘i’th’East my pleasure lies’. His marriage to Octavia angers Cleopatra greatly, but it was enacted only to placate Caesar and is soon rendered useless as he returns promptly to Egypt. Furthermore, his heroic image [he was said by Plutarch to have been like Hercules] is damaged by his preferences, Caesar mocks him as ‘womanly’ while even Antony himself cries at Cleopatra’s servant ‘O, thy vile lady! She has robbed me of my sword!’ In a sense, it appears that Antony has been unmanned by his com... ... middle of paper ... ...d me my robes, put on my crown’ – shows her determination to make a memorable final tableau. On the other hand, and more likely given the divine undertones and implications in the language, she seeks Antony in a life beyond death, realising that life and politics – those ‘baser elements’ – are trivial compared to everlasting love.