- Category: Cultural Literacy
- Published: Thursday, 08 January 2015 12:54
- Written by Brian Jaeger
- Hits: 1741
Information about Antony and Cleopatra
I always showed students a clip from the Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton version. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy also highlights the quote:
"age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / her infinite variety"
Be sure to search for the coins of Antony and especially Celopatra. They are not as beautiful as may be expected on the coins.
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The play was probably performed first in about 1607 at Blackfriars Theatre or the Globe Theatre by the King's Men. Its first known appearance in print was in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Sicilian revolt to Cleopatra's suicide during the Final War of the Roman Republic. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumviri of the Second Triumvirate and the first emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus Caesar. The tragedy is set in Rome and Egypt, characterised by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome.
Many consider the role of Cleopatra in this play one of the most complex female roles in Shakespeare's body of work.:p.45 She is frequently vain and histrionic, provoking an audience almost to scorn; at the same time, Shakespeare's efforts invest both her and Antony with tragic grandeur. These contradictory features have led to famously divided critical responses. It is difficult to put Antony and Cleopatra in a single genre. It can be classified as a history play (though it does not completely adhere to historical account), tragedy (though not completely in Aristotelian terms), comedy, and romance.