Antony and Cleopatra

ISBN: 0451514114
ISBN 13: 9780451514110
By: William Shakespeare

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About this book

Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, and one of the finest, and most poetic of all the high Shakespearean tragedies. Written between 1606 and 1607, it draws on the Roman historian Plutarch and his account of the collapse of the Roman Republic and the birth of the empire under Octavius Caesar, son of Julius. This imperial struggle for political power between Octavius, Lepidus, Pompey and Mark Antony provides the backdrop for the play's extraordinary evocation of the tempestuous love of Antony for Cleopatra, his "Egyptian dish". The play cuts back and forth between the cold, calculating realpolitik of imperial Rome, and the sensuous, erotic world of Egypt and Cleopatra's luxurious and hedonistic court. Yet what is most memorable about the play is its remarkably poetic language; its lush image of Cleopatra in her barge, "like a burnished throne / Burned on the water", and "beggared all description", and its erotic fusion of images of sex and death which find their ultimate culmination in the suicides of Antony and Cleopatra in the final scenes of the play. A notoriously elusive play for both critics and theatre directors alike, Antony and Cleopatra's fascination with questions of race, sex, death, power and politics makes it one of the most compelling of all of Shakespeare's plays. However, the stage is undoubtedly held by Cleopatra, and Enobarbus' attempt to explain her fascination, as powerful and evocative today as ever: "Age cannot wither her, Nor custom stale her infinite variety".--Jerry Brotton

Reader's Thoughts


Fantastic... Cleopatra is every bit the grand, Olympian but human character on par with Lear, Othello, Richard III, and the melancholy Dane... I want to write more about this play (with quotes! with quotes!) but I'm lacking in time at the moment......Still lacking the time and inclination to hold forth in grand style on this one. But I can't resist pointing out that the adaptation the commentary praises the most is the one directed by Trevor Nunn, which was filmed in 1972 or something and is available for free on youtube. God bless the internet! It's terrific. It's done by a bunch of English Shakespeare Actors, and is perhaps somewhat dated, but I tell you there's nothing like seeing something written on the page come alive, moment for moment, detail by detail, and that the images and camera shots in your mind's eye are pretty much realized in the flesh... Here it is, or at least the introductory ten minute segment: And, honestly, if vibrantly staged and viscerally acted (Cleopatra's queenly, sexy and giddy! Antony's baller! Caesar's a prissy kid! Patrick Stewart!) Shakespeare don't cook yr goose, I dunno what to tell you.

R.J. Askew

A WONDERFUL PIECE OF WORK Love. Power. Love. Power. Which is the eye drawn to? It’s said women love powerful men. So does love follow power? Wealth seems to. Are powerful men happier than all the rest? And powerful women? It’s said that men are terrified of them. And if the lover loves the power more than its holder? Can love conquor power? And if it does? What of power then? Can a powerful man surrender to love and remain powerful? Behind every powerful man… Power. Love. Power. Love. Antony. Cleo. Antony. Cleo. ‘Would I had never seen her!’ says Mark Antony. But he does, and becomes in Rome’s eye, ‘the bellows and the fan to cool a gipsy’s lust,’ and, ‘The triple pillar of the world transform’d into a strumpet’s fool…’ But then she is ‘…a wonderful piece of work…’, as Antony’s supporter Enobarbus says. And she herself says, ‘I was a morsel for a monarch’. ‘Let witchcraft join with beauty, lust with both’, says Pompey’s son. ‘She is cunning past man’s thought,’ says Antony. Musing on fishing, she says, ‘…my bended hook shall pierce their slimy jaws…I’ll think them every one an Antony, And say, ‘Ah ha!’ you’re caught.’ And he is. On being entertained on her sumptuous barge he ‘…pays with his heart for what his eyes eat only.’ Such is her ‘infinite variety’. Rome is power, the greatest there is. Power brings conquest, treasure, honour. Power is all. Power instinctively grows more powerful, loves power. Rome has been a republic for five hundred years and is governed by a senatorial class of aristocratic families and tribunes elected by the people – the plebians. But the power massed in the hands of men like Julius Caesar – warrior politicians – becomes too great for the old order to curb. Julius Caesar, aided by Antony – a popular general, becomes dictator of Rome. This is the fulcrum in Rome’s history. The crisis deepens when the old order kills Caesar. Antony takes revenge on the murders and joins a new ruling clique – the triumvirate – with the young Octavius Caesar, Julius Caesar’s adopted son and heir, and Lepidus, another of Julius Caesar’s allies. Antony knows the hardships of war, and relates to common soldiers, the ‘lads’, with whom he is on familiar terms. He lives loose, drinks deep, and makes free with other mens’ wives. The luxury of Egypt, in his third of the Roman world, is irresistible to him, as is its famous queen. Cleopatra was the lover of Julius Caesar, with whom she had a son, Caesarion, and Caesar’s great rival, Pompey. If Rome is power, order, reason, Egypt is pleasure, ease, romance. ‘…we did sleep day out…and make night light with drinking…’ says Enobarbus, adding later, ‘…we have used our throats in Egypt.’ Did you really have eight wild boar roasted whole at a breakfast? asks one of Caesar’s friends. Enter a messenger. But Mark Antony can’t forget Rome. Messengers fly back and forth. Antony’s brother and wife, Fulvia, war with Caesar in Italy, in part ‘to have me out of Egypt’, Antony says. ‘A Roman thought hath struck him,’ Cleopatra mocks. She tries to beguile him by pretending to be sad if he is merry and merry if he is sad. But Rome tugs at Antony. ‘Our Italy shines o’er with civil swords,’ he says. ‘I must be gone. These strong Egyptian fetters I must break.’ Enter another messenger. But first a little bawdy joking among Cleopatra’s ladies and a soothsayer who tells Charmian, ‘You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.’ Such is Egypt. Enter a messenger. Fulvia is dead. And Pompey the younger challenges the triumvirate. Caesar says ‘…we do bear so great weight in his lightness’ of Antony’s absence. But then he is in Rome and it is Cleopatra who misses him ‘…does he walk? Or is he on his horse? O happy, horse, to bear the weight of Antony!’ Antony the politician makes up with Caesar who marries his sister, Octavia, to him. But Enobarbus says, ‘He will to his Egyptian dish again,’ and predicts that the marriage will later ‘prove the immediate author of their variance.’ Strikes him down. Cleopatra is enraged at the hapless messenger who brings news of the marriage. ‘Thou shalt be whipp’d with wire, and stewed in brine.’ On board Pompey’s galley. Lepidius, drunk, asks, ‘What manner o’thing is your crocodile?’ Antony mocks him, ‘It is shaped sir, like itself…’ Pompey declines an offer from a pirate to murder the triumvirs on his behalf as this would dishonour him. The pirate deserts him. Ventidius, a subordinate of Antony’s later says he did not do as much while fighting the parthains as he could have done, so as not to, ‘acquire too high a fame’. Lepidius, the weakest triumvir, is however caught between his love for Caesar and his adoration of Antony. Will Caesar weep when he parts from Octavia? Antony ‘cried almost to roaring’ on Julius Caesar’s death. ‘Is she as tall as me? What majesty is in her gait?’ asks Cleopatra. ‘She creeps,’ says the now wily messenger. The play is riddled contrasts between rivals and contrasts within in the principals, much as Plutrach’s Lives, Shakespeare’s source for this and his other Roman plays, contrasts the lives of noble Greeks and Romans and strengths and weakness of character in individuals. There are two sides to everything. Life is comedy and tragedy. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We are now almost at the mid-point of Act III and the fulcrum of the play, after which events spin out of Mark Antony’s control.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Antony complains that Caesar is at war with Pompey and has deposed Lepidus. Octavia is distraught, torn, like Lepidus, between praying for her husband Antony and her brother Octavius, saying there is, ‘…no midway twix these extrmes at all.’ Caesar is angered thatm ‘Cleopatra and himself in chairs of gold were publicly enthron’d’. ‘He hath given his empire up to a whore; who now are levying the kings o’the earth for war.’ A plain near Actium. Enobarbus the soldier, exasperated by Cleopatra’s presence, moans, ‘But why, why, why?’ He adds, ‘…if we should serve with horse and mares together…your presence must puzzle Antony…’ ‘Sink Rome,’ snaps Cleopatra. Antony is stronger on land than at sea and a common soldier pleads, ‘ O noble emperor! Do not fight by sea…’ And Canidius, who later deserts Antony, says, ‘…our leader’s led, and we are women’s men.’ But Anony fights Ceasar at sea and is undone when Cleopatra flees the battle with her sixty ships, ‘like a cow in June’, and Antony follows, ‘like a doting mallard’. Scarus says, ‘Experience, manhood, honour, ne’er before did violate itself so.’ ‘Love, I am full of lead,’ says Antony after, perhaps addressing the concept of love as well as Cleopatra. My heart was tied to your rudder, he tells her. He is reduced to sending his old teacher, Euphronius, to treat with his younger rival, such is his impotence. ‘What shall we do, Enobarbus?’ asks Cleopatra. ‘Think, and die,’ comes the reply. Antony is now so desperate he challenges Caesar to fight him, ‘sword against sword’. Enobarbus in a scornful aside says Caesar triumphant will not risk all, ‘Against a sworder!’ and in another aside says, ‘Sir, sir, thou’rt so leaky, that we must leave thee to thy sinking...' Antony has Caesar’s messenger whipped and rails against Cleopatra, ‘I found you as a morsel, cold upon dead Caesar’s trencher…’ She calls down poisoned hailstones on herself. Antony rallies, ‘Let’s have one other gaudy night…’ Enobarbus sees it all, ‘Now he’ll outstare the lightning. A diminution in our captain’s brain restores his heart. I will seek some other way to leave him.’ ‘He calls me boy,’ says Caesar. ‘Tend me tonight two hours,’ Antony bids of his servants, as if expecting doom. Soldiers hear, ‘Music i’ the air’, and suspect it marks his favourite god, Hercules, deserting him. Cleopatra helps him on with his armour like a fussing wife and he kisses her, ‘This is a soldier’s kiss.’ This is their only kiss in the play’s text. Later, when things go well for him, he refers to her as, ‘My nightingale…’ Previously he says fondly, ‘Where’s my serpent of old Nile?’ And he sends her a pearl from Rome, at which point he was to her ‘man of men’ and she was writing to him every day, saying to her maid,‘Ink and paper, Charmain.’ When Enobarbus finally deserts him, Antony, sees the consequences of his mistakes, ‘O! my fortunes have corrupted honest men.’ Enobarbus rues his desertion saying of himself, ‘I am alone the villain of the earth.’ When Antony’s fortunes rally briefly – pointedly in a land battle – Enobarbus dies, disconsolate, ‘A master-leaver and a fugitive.’ But then, ‘All is lost!’ during a second sea battle and Antony calls Cleopatra a ‘triple-turn’d whore!’ and says she ‘Hast sold me to this novice,’ Caesar. At Actium, one of Antony’s soldiers called her, ‘Yon ribaudred nag of Egypt’ and Antony now calls her ‘a right gypsy…fast and loose’, as if coming round to the Roman view of her as ‘gypsy’ in the play’s opening lines. He calls her ‘the greatest spot of all thy sex’, talks of Caesar hoisting her up ‘to the shouting plebians’, and says ‘The witch shall die: to the young Roman boy she hath sold me’. Terrified by Antony’s rage, Cleopatra bolts to her monument and sends her eunuch to say she is dead. Antony, ‘Dead then?’ Eunuch, ‘Dead.’ The news drives Antony to tell his man Eros to kill him. But Eros kills himself instead. Antony, shamed by Eros, falls on his own sword, but fails to kill himself. ‘Let him that loves me strike me dead,’ he commands of his guards. But they all refuse. He is taken to Cleopatra’s monument. ‘I am dying, Egypt, dying.’ Cleopatra and her maids hoist him up. ‘How heavy weight my lord!’ she says. ‘Our strength is goint into heaviness, that makes the weight.’ The point is hammered home when all the women say, ‘A heavy sight!’ And Antony repeats, ‘I am dying Egypt, dying.’ Antony dies. In the final act Caesar, ‘sole sir o’the world,’ makes his plans and Cleopatra treats with him. She dreams of Antony and speaks of him as a generous and outstanding man, but not in a romantic way, as a lover. Caesar seems reasonable yet threatens her children if she does not comply. She then discovers his true intent is to parade her to through Rome ‘in triumph.’ Yet, she too remains slippery, disguising her true wealth from Caesar. She is in horror of the Roman mob with their ‘greasy aprons…thick breaths…rank of gross diet, shall we be enclouded, and forc’d to drink their vapour?’ There seems more passion in this fear than in her dream of Antony, though Shakespeare was surely trying to make his own smelly audience think of themselves as Romans. And so, to join Antony and foil Caesar, she applies an asp. But first she kisses one of her maids, who promptly dies. She applies a second asp, dies. Another maid applies an asp, dies. Octavius Caesar, powerless to stop Cleopatra’s bid for immortality, goes on to rule Rome for decades and make good his comment that, ‘The time of universal peace is near.’-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Power wins. Love for its own sake is nowhere. Cleopatra’s love of Antony’s power and Antony’s sensuousness permit her to cloak his power as a rampant ivy cloaks a tree until said tree falls, taking said ivy with it. Antony speaks with more passion about his honour, or hurtfully of Cleopatra when his cause fails, than he ever does in a romantic way to or about her. And she remains guileful to the end and as concerned with her royalty and spiting Caesar’s plan to show her off as she is about joining Antony in death. But the ‘boy’ Caesar is immune to her ways and does not even recognise her when they first meet. We also know from Plutarch that Cleopatra tested methods of suicide on prisoners to discover the gentlest, a woman who left little to chance. But are things ever so simple? The complexity of all things is captured when Cleopatra says to her first asp, ‘This knot intrinsicate of life at once untie’. The joining of ‘intrinsic’ and ‘intricate’ in the portmanteau word ‘intrinsicate’ tells us that life is never one thing.

Molly Leverenz

Reader Response: I was really hoping that Antony and Cleopatra would be different than Romeo and Juliet. However as I was reading the end of Antony and Celopatra, I became frustrated because the ending was very similar to Romeo and Juliet. No happy ending. The guys both think that the girls are dead, so they kill themselves. Then the girls go around and kill themselves. Why can't Shakespeare just let the lovers fall in love and create a happy ending? Overall probably not my favorite Shakespeare play, but that is my opinion. Teacher Response: As a teacher this would probably not be my first pick if choosing something writen by Shakespeare. If I was picking a love story I might go with Romeo and Juiet. However, the boy students may really enjoy this play because of the war that takes place. If I were to teach this play I would want to show a comic strip of the play so the students get the main idea of the story. Then have the students read the play and watch the movie of it while we read. That way students are able to notice more about the characters and smaller ideas of the play.


أنطونيو وكليوباترا تعلمنا في (روميو وجولييت) أنه عندما يحب فتى وفتاة، فإن الأمر ينتهي بموتى وعوائل مكلومة، أما هنا فنتعلم أنه عندما يحب ملك وملكة، فإن الأمر ينتهي بحرب وأمة مغلوبة. إن قصة كليوباترا من دون حتى أن تقرن بأنطونيو هي قصة مثيرة، إنها ملكة وعشيقة، عشقت أولاً وتزوجت يوليوس قيصر الذي وصلت إليه كما تقول الأسطورة ملفوفة في سجادة، ثم بعدما قتل على يد المتآمرين في روما، عشقت مارك أنطونيو حتى انتحرت بعد موته، كل هذه الحياة المليئة بالحروب والدسائس والمؤمرات، وكل ما قيل عن جمالها الأخاذ يجعلها مثالاً للمرأة المثيرة، المغوية والخطرة. وقد صدرت مؤخراً ترجمة كتاب (كليوباترا: حياة) وهي سيرة متكاملة وضعتها (ستايسي شيف) الكاتبة المتخصصة في السير الذاتية، والتي حصلت على البوليتزر عن سير ذاتية كتبتها عن (سانت إكسوبري) و(فيرا: زوجة نابوكوف)، فلذا أتمنى أن يكون كتابها هذا مثيراً بإثارة شخصية كليوباترا. في مسرحيته هذه، شكسبير غير معني إلا بالمرحلة الأخيرة من حياة كليوباترا، أي علاقتها بأنطونيو وموتها، إن علاقة الحب العنيفة، وشخصية كليوباترا المضطربة، وشخصية أنطونيو الشجاعة ولكن سيئة الحظ أو لنقل الساذجة هي ما يتسيد النص الشكسبيري، والذي يفتتح بكلمات مارك أنطونيو المدوية العنيفة التي تعبر عن الحب الذي يكنه لكليوباترا:فلتذب روما في نهر التيبرولتسقط تلك القبة الشماء للصرح العظيم، صرح الإمبراطوريةفإن موقعي الجدير بي هنا !إن الممالك من ترابوأرضنا التي يعلوها الروث، تغذو البهائم مثلما تغذو البشروالمجد في الدنيا هو الذي نقوم به ها هنا(يقول هذه الكلمات ثم يعانق كليوباترا) لم يكن قائل هذه الكلمات إلا ثالث ثلاثة يحكمون حينها الإمبراطورية الرومانية الضخمة، ولكن سرعان ما سيصبح الثلاثة واحداً عندما يعزل أولهم (ماركوس لبيدوس)، وينتحر الثاني (مارك أنطونيو) بعدما يهزم في معركة (آكتيوم) البحرية، ليتسيد أوكتافيوس (أغسطس). يبدع شكسبير في هذه المسرحية في إظهار العلاقة بين كليوباترا وأنطونيو، الغيرة المتقدة من جهتها، والتصرفات الجنونية التي تقود حبيبها إلى الهزيمة والموت، كما تظهر شخصية أنطونيو الشجاعة ولكن الساذجة في ذات الوقت، وكيف انحط الرجل الذي كان يمكن له أن يكون سيد العالم الأوحد إلى رجل مهزوم، يتخلى عنه خلصائه، كما أبدع في إظهار الصراع النفسي الذي يمر به أحد رجال أنطونيو وهو (اينوباربوس)، وكيف بدأ يساءل وفائه لأنطونيو المشتت، والسائر في طريق الضياع: "إن عقلي قد بدأ يثور على وفائي، فالولاء الأعمى للحمقى يجعل من الوفاء حماقة بلهاء، بيد أن من كابد الولاء لمولاه بعد أن هوى من علاه، فإنما يقهر قاهر مولاه، ويفسح لنفسه مكاناً في السيرة حين يجري بذكرها الرواة"، ثم يعرض لنا بعد ذلك تأنيب الضمير الذي يكابده بعدما تخلى عن أنطونيو، وكيف يموت بكمده وحسرته مع أنه صار في ركاب المنتصرين. المسرحية جميلة، وقد عزمت على منحها نجوماً أربعة لولا الترجمة الرديئة التي قرأتها متفاجئاً، وهي ترجمة لويس عوض، من أراد أن يستمتع بالمسرحية فليبحث عن ترجمة أفضل.

Rhiannon Johnson

The character Cleopatra, in William Shakespeare's “Antony and Cleopatra,” possesses a multitude of contradictions. Through constant clashes in speech and action, Shakespeare constructs a complex female character. Critic Anna Jameson refers to Cleopatra as “a brilliant antithesis—a compound of contradictions” (Quint 244). Jameson recognizes Shakespeare's “deep meaning and wonderous [sic] skill in the apparent enigma” of Cleopatra (244). Shakespeare remediates the stories of Plutarch and Genesis to give agency to his character. Through appropriation Shakespeare shapes his “literary forbears to new uses, enhancing,extending, or critiquing the meaning of the primary text” (Savu 22). Through remediation, Shakespeare emphasizes Cleopatra's sexual power, and shifts the image of the snake from a male to a female symbol of power, in order to give agency to Cleopatra in her suicide.To read my paper "Remediating Cleopatra" visit:

Rowland Bismark

Scholars believe that Shakespeare wrote Antony and Cleopatra in 1606, immediately after Macbeth, and it is one of the last great tragedies that Shakespeare produced. The most geographically sweeping of Shakespeare’s plays, Antony and Cleopatra’s setting is the entire Roman Empire, its backdrop the well-documented history of Octavius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Cleopatra. Shakespeare’s primary source for Antony and Cleopatra was the Life of Marcus Antonius contained in Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, which was translated into English by Sir Thomas North in 1579. North’s language was so rich that Shakespeare incorporated large, relatively unchanged excerpts of it into his text. The plot of the play also remains close to North’s history, although characters like Enobarbus and Cleopatra’s attendants are largely Shakespearean creations.The action of the story takes place roughly two years after the events of Shakespeare’s earlier play about the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar. At the beginning of that tragedy, Caesar has triumphed over his rival Pompey the Great, the father of young Pompey in Antony and Cleopatra, and aspires to kingship. Caesar is then assassinated by Cassius and Brutus, who hope to preserve the Roman Republic. Instead, Cassius and Brutus are defeated by Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar, Julius’s nephew, who then join Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to create a three-man government, or triumvirate, over the empire.Historically, the action of Antony and Cleopatra takes place over a ten-year span, whereas in the play the story is compressed to fit the needs of the stage. Antony is clearly much older than he was in Julius Caesar, and his political instincts seem to be waning. Octavius Caesar was only a minor character in the earlier play, but here he comes into his own as the man who will rise to become the first Roman emperor. Most of the political battles and machinations depicted are historically accurate, as is the romance of the title characters.In his opening lines to Demetrius, Philo complains that Antony has abandoned the military endeavors on which his reputation is based for Cleopatra’s sake. His criticism of Antony’s “dotage,” or stupidity, introduces a tension between reason and emotion that runs throughout the play (I.i.1). Antony and Cleopatra’s first exchange heightens this tension, as they argue whether their love can be put into words and understood or whether it exceeds such faculties and boundaries of reason. If, according to Roman consensus, Antony is the military hero and disciplined statesmen that Caesar and others believe him to be, then he seems to have happily abandoned his reason in order to pursue his passion. He declares: “Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch / Of the ranged empire fall” (I.i.35–36). The play, however, is more concerned with the battle between reason and emotion than the triumph of one over the other, and this battle is waged most forcefully in the character of Antony. More than any other character in the play, Antony vacillates between Western and Eastern sensibilities, feeling pulled by both his duty to the empire and his desire for pleasure, his want of military glory and his passion for Cleopatra. Soon after his nonchalant dismissal of Caesar’s messenger, the empire, and his duty to it, he chastises himself for his neglect and commits to return to Rome, lest he “lose [him:]self in dotage” (I.ii.106).As the play progresses, Antony continues to inhabit conflicting identities that play out the struggle between reason and emotion. At one moment, he is the vengeful war hero whom Caesar praises and fears. Soon thereafter, he sacrifices his military position by unwisely allowing Cleopatra to determine his course of action. As his Roman allies—even the ever-faithful Enobarbus—abandon him, Antony feels that he has, indeed, lost himself in dotage, and he determines to rescue his noble identity by taking his own life. At first, this course of action may appear to be a triumph of reason over passion, of -Western sensibilities over Eastern ones, but the play is not that simple. Although Antony dies believing himself a man of honor, discipline, and reason, our understanding of him is not nearly as straight-forward. In order to come to terms with Antony’s character, we must analyze the aspects of his identity that he ignores. He is, in the end, a man ruled by passion as much as by reason. Likewise, the play offers us a worldview in which one sensibility cannot easily dominate another. Reason cannot ever fully conquer the passions, nor can passion wholly undo reason.Although Antony and Cleopatra details the conflict between Rome and Egypt, giving us an idea of the Elizabethan perceptions of the difference between Western and Eastern cultures, it does not make a definitive statement about which culture ultimately triumphs. In the play, the Western and Eastern poles of the world are characterized by those who inhabit them: Caesar, for instance, embodies the stoic duty of the West, while Cleopatra, in all her theatrical grandeur, represents the free-flowing passions of the East. Caesar’s concerns throughout the play are certainly imperial: he means to invade foreign lands in order to invest them with traditions and sensibilities of his own. But the play resists siding with this imperialist impulse. Shakespeare, in other words, does not align the play’s sympathies with the West; Antony and Cleopatra can hardly be read as propaganda for Western domination. On the contrary, the Roman understanding of Cleopatra and her kingdom seems exceedingly superficial. To Caesar, the queen of Egypt is little more than a whore with a flair for drama. His perspective allows little room for the real power of Cleopatra’s sexuality—she can, after all, persuade the most decorated of generals to follow her into ignoble retreat. Similarly, it allows little room for the indomitable strength of her will, which she demonstrates so forcefully at the end of the play as she refuses to allow herself to be turned into a “Egyptian puppet” for the entertainment of the Roman masses (V.ii.204).In Antony and Cleopatra, West meets East, but it does not, regardless of Caesar’s triumph over the land of Egypt, conquer it. Cleopatra’s suicide suggests that something of the East’s spirit, the freedoms and passions that are not represented in the play’s conception of the West, cannot be subsumed by Caesar’s victory. The play suggests that the East will live on as a visible and unconquerable counterpoint to the West, bound as inseparably and eternally as Antony and Cleopatra are in their tomb.In one sentence, i will say this is, "The Struggle Between Reason and Emotion"… :D


An incredible take on the power of politics and the many ways it can change a man, and on the definition of love, and of the actual existence of a definition for love.Featured in my Top 5 Shakespearean Tragedies:


Not a full review but: holy crap, there's what is pretty clearly a gay hook-up scene in the middle of this. I mean, "DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS:... Menas, I'll not on shore.MENAS: No, to my cabin."- which comes after some pretty heavy flirting and drinking between these two guys - it's kind of amazingly unsubtle and frankly, pretty sexy even just on the page. Not shocked, just processing the fact that Shakespeare really did do everything first - plus that I totally did not get that while reading it as a naive teenager. Also, really short cut-scenes jumping between groups for like a single piece of dialogue, so you get 15 (well, xv) scenes in an Act - very different to some of the other plays, and highly cinema-esque. Cleopatra as written...problematic from modern feminist perspective, though a lot could be done with interpretation on stage for better or worse. Anyway, I'm seeing this at the theatre today so will see how the director interprets it compared with my ideas.

Asya Fergiani

This was required reading for a World Literature class I took last year. It was a painful read with self-serving characters. As much as Shakespeare is an acclaimed writer, I found little to enjoy about this play mostly because I found Cleopatra and Antony contrived and ridiculously without common sense for the historical icons they are. Being that it was a play, I’m not sure how much historical accuracy would be required after all it was written to entertain. Antony, “O, whither hast thou led me, Egypt? See how I convey my shame out of thine eyes by looking back what I have left behind ‘Stroyed in dishonor” (Shakespeare 129). Cleopatra, “Forgive my fearful sails! I little thought you would have followed” (Shakespeare 129). Here Antony admits his stupidity that he will repeat for Cleopatra again and again. Cleopatra gives a lame excuse for retreating. Their relationship through the play continues its dysfunction with no thought of the expense to their people. It lacks authenticity. As a writer, I will strive to write with attention to the plausibility of my story. I would not have read this if it were not required by my professor.


So this is like Romeo and Juliet in that they end up dead, but not like Romeo and Juliet in that there isn't any good fighting, or secret plans that go awry or feuding families or even a fun, bawdy nurse. It took a very long time for me to read to the end. Luckily, the play as performed is a bit more entertaining. But overall it is a Romeo and Juliet as played by boring politicians.


For me, reading a play is kind of ”one man performance”, and totally different experience comparing to the very same play’s performance at theatre or in film form. I consider them as three different versions of one story.گفتن از شکسپیر و آثارش به تابو می ماند. کمتر کسی شهامت دارد بگوید از این یا آن اثر شکسپیر، خوشش نمی آید. یا عیب و ایرادی بر یکی از آثار او بگیرد. این واویلا بیشتر می شود وقتی انگلیسی، زبان دوم یا سومت باشد، و با ادبیات و زبان کهنه ی انگلیسی قرن شانزدهم بکلی بیگانه باشی! بهررو، منی که شکسپیر را اکثرن به زبان فارسی خوانده ام، و برخی از آثارش را در تیاتر و سینما به زبان های دیگر دیده ام، شهامت ابراز نظر ندارم. این که آثاری نظیر مکبث، تاجر ونیزی، شاه لیر، طوفان و... را بیشتر دوست داشته ام تا مثلن رومئو و ژولیت، یا رام کردن زن سرکش را، صرفن یک سلیقه ی شخصی ست. گرفتاری دیگرم آن است که هر بار اجرایی از یکی از آثار شکسپیر را دیده ام، هرچه در ذهن داشته ام، فروریخته، چرا که هر کارگردان تیاتر یا سینما، یا هر بازیگری آن را به شکلی نشان داده یا بازی کرده است، گاه بکلی متفاوت با اجرای قبلی یا بعدی. مثلن تمامی اجراهای "لارنس اولیویه" از شکسپیر، یا مجموعه ی تله ویزیونی بی بی سی و کمپانی شکسپیر، که روی دی وی دی هم موجود است، کارهایی ست درخشان با بازیگران و کارگردانانی همه شکسپیر شناس. به عنوان مثال "ریچارد سوم" با اجرای "لارنس اولیویه" بکلی قضاوتم را در مورد این نمایش نامه، در هم ریخت. با این همه دیدن هملت در چهار اجرای متفاوت، "لارنس اولیویه"، "کوزنتسف" (کارگردان و شکسپیرشناس روسی)، یا اجرای شگفت "درک جاکوبی"، و بالاخره هملت "کنت برانا"، آدم را در انتخاب، سر درگم می کند! غیر از اینها، آنچه در طول سال ها در ذهنم باقی مانده، دو اجرای شگفت "فرانکو زفیرلی" از "رام کردن زن سرکش" (با بازی "ریچارد برتون" و "الیزابت تیلور") و زیباترین "رومئو و ژولیت"ی که در عمرم دیده ام از "فرانکو زفیرلی"، یا اتللوی "اورسون ولز"، اتللوی "سر گئی باندارچوک"، و البته اتللوی "لارنس اولیویه"، یا هملت با بازی "ریچارد برتون"، هملت با بازی "کریستوفر پلامر"، هملت با بازی "درک جاکوبی"، و هملت با بازی "لارنس اولیویه" با همه ی کهنگی هم چنان درخشان اند. و فراموش نکنم عظیم ترین اجرای "شاه لیر" با بازی لارنس اولیویه را و ... اگر بهر کدام آثار شکسپیر فکر کنم، و اجراهای شگفتی که از آنها دیده ام... There are 2 famous film version of Antony and Cleopatra, one is directed by Charlton Heston?! (1972) with he himself as Antony, and another one with Richard Burton as Antony and Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra.آنتونی و کلئوپاترا با ترجمه ی علاء الدین پازارگادی ابتدا در 1344 توسط بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب و سپس در مجموعه ی آثار نمایشی شکسپیر در 1375 منتشر شده است.


Iridescent words 'n' alienating melodrama. Kinda demonstrates the tedium of grandeur. *votes R+J*

Haley Baker

Antony and Cleopatra is one of my favorite plays of Shakespeare after reading, listening and watching the play. I have a biased interpretation based on my experience with many forms of the text, however, ultimately the play embodies passion, betrayal, friendship, heartache, death and war. Antony and Cleopatra paint a new meaning of what is love through their passion. However, men like Antony were not expected (or allowed) to marry for true love- instead one would marry for a compromise or treaty. Antony's friend, Caesar, back home in Rome is angry with Antony because men like Antony don't love or act on passion. Although the play is a tragedy, Cleopatra releases a comical relief when she pines for answers regarding Octavia's beauty. Then when Antony tries to kill himself, it is humorous as he stabs himself and his instant death is unsuccessful. Oops, spoiler alert! Regardless, it's a tragedy and it's Shakespeare; death is expected.As a future English teacher, I think that the text offers a lot in regards to writing in the classroom. I envision assigning an assignment where the students write letters to a friend who has betrayed them. Antony and Cleopatra's offering of many characters allows the chance to assign different writing prompts; students will be able to analyze and inquire characters from different perspectives. Because the language in Antony and Cleopatra is complex, students need to write their own action statements in order to understand the plot and develop a timeline. In this sense, the students are writing from their interpretations as well as pulling from the text for support. The art of writing is manageable for most, however, it is when the interpretation is fuzzed then the students' ability to write is not as simple, easy and fluent. When a student begins to write, sometimes what is portrayed best, is what the student just does not know.


I can just imagine Bill going, "Hah! Who needs coherence? I'm Shakespeare!" Well, Bill, I need coherence. Leastaways, a little coherence. And when the reader's laughing during a suicide, you know there's something going on that you didn't intend. The only thing tragic about this is that I know you're capable of much, much better - you wrote Macbeth, after all.


This play has ever seemed divided, choppy, and fragmentary to me, jumping from time to time, locale to locale, emotion to emotion. And maybe that is what, in part, it is about, the dividedness of Antony – divided between Rome and Egypt, between his love for Cleopatra and a marriage of convenience to Octavia, between a life of ease and the life of a warrior, between the vacillations of his own mind. Cleopatra seems more stable by comparison but nonetheless has inexplicable actions as when she abandons the maritime fight off Actium. The common theme seems to be the torment of divided priorities and loyalties in the face of monumental loves and monumental ambitions. At the end, the common theme is the death of both title characters at their own hands. I’ve never seen this play staged and would like to do so; perhaps it would seem more coherent in person than in a book.

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