Essay on Ancient Rome and Cleopatra

748 Words Jan 23rd, 2015 3 Pages
Cleopatra

Read the following passage carefully at least twice. What does it tell us about Plutarch’s view of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra?

For Plutarch peoples actions, however trite, were great indications of a person’s moral character (Plutarch, 1914, p. 225). We can, therefore, assume that Plutarch would have placed great importance on the everyday activities of Cleopatra and Antony in reflecting the character of their relationship. Plutarch wrote 150 years after the events of Cleopatra and Antony and was therefore heavily influenced by Roman views of, not only, the couple themselves but also by Roman’s understanding and expectations of relationships, gender and race.

Plutarch highlights the inseparability of
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So in Plutarch’s eyes, Antony has failed to live up to his male role within the relationship.

Roman’s believed that “A man’s whole being is moulded by the habits of his daily life” (Moohan, 2008. p. 27). To Plutarch, Antony’s activities such as fishing indicates Antony’s failure to live up to his honorable rank as a Roman general. He is clearly inferior to the man he once was when he hunted “cities, realms, and continents” (Plutarch, in AA100 Assignment Booklet, 2011, p.17).

At times, Plutarch shows more concern with Antony’s behaviour than Cleopatra’s. Antony’s actions are described as “mad follies” and, although Cleopatra participates, it is Antony’s actions that lack reason, not hers (Plutarch, in AA100 Assignment Booklet, 2011, p.17). Romans viewed Egyptian way of life as inferior and “barbaric” compared to the civility of Roman culture as was reiterated by many Roman historians such as Cassius Dio (Moohan, 2008. p. 27). Therefore, Plutarch is more concerned with Antony’s actions as he expects more from a Roman man. As a woman and an Egyptian, Plutarch does not have such high expectations of Cleopatra hence why he is less focussed on her.

This passage underlines the relationship’s negative influence on Antony and highlights the power dynamics of the relationship. Cleopatra is in control and outwits Antony, whereas he is powerless and idiotic. Plutarch makes sense of Antony’s behaviour with a
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