Antony and Cleopatra

I got through a history! with a bit of help from wikipedia, i finished up Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare today. The basic plot is that Antony is a Roman leader who has been in Egypt. He's in love with Cleopatra, Egypt's queen. Duty calls him back to Rome, where Octavius, the future first emperor of Rome, needs his help in war against Pompey. To try to seal the alliance, Antony marries Octavius' sister Octavia. Cleopatra doesn't like that very much. Antony and Octavius make a truce with Pompey. Then Antony comes back to Rome because Octavius breaks the truce and Antony doesn't want to be involved anymore. Then Octavius makes war on Egypt.

The history plays are more difficult for me. I found this one to be easier than the various English King plays but i did need a bit of help with the battles. The wikipedia summary of the plot made the sea battle debacles make sense. I knew the Roman history from college and my own general interest reading.

I'm not sure how i feel about this play. Who am i supposed to be rooting for? Cleopatra varies between girlish and petty to strong and noble. Antony seems really wishy washy. He loves Cleopatra when things are good but hates her when things are bad. Octavius is power hungry and not very relatable. I give this one a 4. I wouldn't mind seeing it live.


  1. Yeah, I think with a lot of Shakespeare that you need to see it live. But I do not blame you for looking it up on Wikipedia... I cannot count how many times I have looked up a book I just read on there to figure out what exactly it was about.

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  3. Check out the chapter on A & C in Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae. It explains a lot about the characters. A & C is my current favorite Shakespeare.


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