Essay on Antony and Cleopatra

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As a onetime outpost of Rome, England was greatly influenced by Roman genealogy-ancestors that were god-like (Mars), superhuman (Hercules), fearless warriors (Pompey) who flourished in a patriarchal society (ancient 4). I would like to discuss how Shakespeare uses these characteristics in his Roman tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, as a means to express sixteenth century England's cultural upheavals, one of which was the transformation of masculinity defined in terms of power to masculinity rooted in humanism.

Traditionally, the monarch of a country is the "head of the nobility"(Giddens 2) and skilled in weaponry so as to fight side by side with his soldiers. Queen Elizabeth shattered this tradition with her femininity and physical
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Pompey is strong at sea,
And it appears he is beloved of those
That only have feared Caesar. To the ports
The discontents repair, and men's reports
Give him much wronged. (1.4.34-40)

This passage speaks of important activity all of which deals with the power that comes from Caesar's past exploits and the current campaign in which Pompey equals Caesar's achievement of honor. Compare this to the conversation Caesar and Lepidus have about Antony's change in character.

Our great competitor. From Alexandria
This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
The lamps of night in revel; is not more manlike
Than Cleopatra, nor the queen of Ptolemy
More womanly than he; hardly gave audience, or
Vouchsafed to think he had partners. You shall find there
A man who is the abstract of all faults
That all men follow. (1.4.3)

From Bacon's perspective, as well as Caesar's, Antony's behavior is slothful and is viewed as stripping him of his manly honour. His manners have slid from those of a powerful military leader to those of a drunk. His masculinity is described as equal to Cleopatra's femininity. He deserves this criticism because he chooses to retreat from war in favour of sensual pleasure. Although he is a Roman warrior, he realizes that it is the activity of life, not war, that he yearns to explore.

Encased in the mold of Roman virtus, i.e. courage and leadership, is "a place of
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