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Interpretations of Cleopatra

Historians and writers of fiction alike have long been fascinated with Egypt's Queen Cleopatra. The ways in which this apparently complex woman has been portrayed have varied over time and with respect to the nationality, culture, and political views of the writer. This essay will consider the presentation of Cleopatra according to Dio Cassius and Plutarch, two Roman writers who if not precisely contemporary with Cleopatra, lived at a time when her influence was still widespread. A contemporary writer, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, will also be discussed.

Plutarch (1-2) describes Cleopatra as having begun an acquaintance with Rome's Julius Caesar when she was only a girl and as continuing her association with Rome via a relationship with Marc Antony. Plutarch (1) says that 'she was to meet Antony in the time of life when women's beauty is most splendid, and their intellects are in full maturity." In his description, Plutarch (2) says that "her actual beauty, it is said, was not in itself so remarkable that none could be compared with her or that no one could see her without being struck by it, but the contact of her presence, if you lived with her, was irresistible, the attraction of her person, joining with the charm of her conversation, and the character that attended all she said or did, was something bewitching."

From Plutarch's (4) perspective, Cleopatra was therefore a woman of enormous appeal who was quite ambitious and determined to secure Egypt's place in the world. In Marc Antony, Plutarch (6) suggests that Cleopatra found a willing partner in her efforts to challenge Caesar Augustus although Antony's reaction was to resist the impetus to quarrel with Rome. In his description of the conflict between Antony and Cleopatra and Rome, Plutarch (12) suggests that a genuine love between the two had developed although Cleopatra ultimately betrayed Antony by pretending to have died and also by trying to arrange for t...

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Interpretations of Cleopatra. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:37, August 06, 2020, from