Plutarch’s view of Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship provides us with a greater understanding of his and the Roman’s moralistic attitude to the lovers. In particular, he may have used this passage to further highlight the virtues and vices of Antony consequently influencing public opinion, ‘and when by night he would station himself at the doors or windows (Plutarch, in AA100 Assignment Booklet, 2011, p. 18).
We could say that the Egyptian Queen is Plutarch’s currency; he trades with Cleopatra - buying the right to further damage the character of Mark.
He starts by telling us ‘Antony is kept in constant tutelage by Cleopatra, and released neither night nor day’ (Plutarch, in AA100 Assignment Booklet, 2011, p. 18). Instantly telling us of the couples dependency on one another, presenting Cleopatra as the more dominate figure. Plutarch gives ...view middle of the document...
11); yet this passage may suggest that Antony was deeply in love with Cleopatra.
Reflecting upon Plutarch’s initial presentation of Cleopatra, one that seem to be in stark contrast to that frequently expressed about Antony, his description of the Egyptian Queen gives us the image of a woman ‘who may not be blessed with traditional beauty, however, her personality still has the power to captivate all’ (Scott-Kilvert, 1965, p. 294), including Mark Antony?
The general impression he first gives us of Cleopatra may not initially appear negative. But the style in which he constantly appears to use the African Queen as ammunition to justify Antony’s demise, is almost undeniable.
So, was it Plutarch’s intention to paint Cleopatra as a powerful, domineering and manipulating women? Thus showing us how pathetic and submissive Antony had become in his relationship with the Queen?
We could argue that Plutarch’s motives were indeed to degrade Antony further, which is apparent on several counts shown to us in the passage. ‘He was fishing once and had bad luck and was vexed at it…’ (AA100, Reputations, 2011, p.11). Is this an example of plausible fiction? Where Plutarch shows us a slightly compassionate view of the relationship, with sympathy given to Antony’s paramour. Yet he is still capable of highlighting the cunning and intelligent nature of Cleo, ‘But the Egyptian saw through the trick…’(Plutarch, in AA100 Assignment Booklet, 2011, p. 18).
Plutarch’s view of the relationship communicates to us the traditional Roman views of loyalty, love and rebelliousness. Writing some 150 years after events, exploiting Antony as an exemplar never to be repeated.(499 words).
Fear, T. (2008) ‘Cleopatra’ Moohan, E., (ed) Reputations (AA100 Book 1), Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 3 - 28.
‘Cleopatra’ (2008) (AA100 DVD 00520), Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Plutarch, Life of Antony, 29-30; reprinted in AA100 Assignment Booklet (2011), Milton Keynes, The Open University, p. 18.