Choose one of the modern representations of Cleopatra in film or TV presented in the module materials. How far is this consistent with Roman depictions of her in Book 1, Chapter 1?
In almost all Roman depictions of Cleopatra, she is defined by her relationships with famous Romans. She is portrayed as being the lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, whilst being the enemy of Octavian (later Augustus).
During this time she was depicted as a foreign ruler outside the authority of Rome. This is depicted in coin portraits (Fear, 2008, p21). These give a slightly disparaging impression of Cleopatra’s looks. It is clear which parts are exaggerated when we compare the coins to the bust (Fear, 2008, p22), where Cleopatra is still plain-looking, but regal. In both these sources she is depicted as having a high station, as shown by the abundance of jewellery. She is shown on the same coin as Antony, which implies that Cleopatra was seen as an equal to Antony.
Cleopatra has been portrayed by Plutarch as a free thinking woman, who was not subservient to Antony. She manipulates and politically outmanoeuvres him in every decision, and was portrayed as “bewitching” Antony; this shows that he obeyed her wishes. She is portrayed by the historians of the time as either a power-mad queen or a sexual temptress.
In “Augustus on Cleopatra” (Scott-Kilvert, 1965, in Fear, 2008, p27), Augustus does not see Cleopatra as a political rival and he has contempt for her as a ruler. He believes Cleopatra has turned Antony into a woman.
Horace, Ode 1.37 (West, 2004 in Fear, 2008, p25), talks about Cleopatra as a “mad queen with her contaminated flock of men”. In this line he is saying that Cleopatra is of unsound mind and has misled her followers. At the end...
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..., who uses mostly shorter words. When these lines are spoken, this has the effect of making the lines of the horse-courser flow much faster than those of Faustus, contributing to the horse-courser’s characterisation as a simple man and Faustus’ characterisation as a scholar.
Another large difference is that the lines spoken by Faustus are in blank verse, and the lines by the horse-courser are in prose. This is particularly relevant because in Elizabethan plays the serious characters spoke in verse, and the comedic characters in prose. To the contemporary audience, it would be obvious that the horse-courser was a more comedic character in comparison to Faustus because of this difference.
Word count: 542
O’Connor, J (ed) (2003) Doctor Faustus: The A Text. Essex: Pearson.
Patcheco, A (2008), “Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus”, AA100 Book 1, Chapter 2
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