Black Widow

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I sincerely enjoyed this academic article. It brought into the spotlight a whole new point of view and in essence gave attention not to Antony and Cleopatra, but to Caesar and Cleopatra. To me, this is very interesting. Levin brings up many instances in which Cleopatra and Caesar are entangled in their own sexual desires for each other, except that Caesar's desires are more for power that for sex. One thing that Levin did that I really liked was he always offered more than one possiblity to a claim. I think that this is a great example of what Dr. Jerz is trying to show us. Here's an example.

"Either she [Cleopatra] is asking whether Caesar would make a like sacrifice for her, or she is sardonically noting a contrast between Julius Caesar and Octavius, the former choosing to love her and the latter choosing to intimidate her."

The comparison that I want to make is between Cleopatra and a "Black Widow" spider. Okay, she doesn't kill her husbands, so it's a stretch, but she does indeed use them, and she uses them well. However, if you think about it, Caesar is basically in the same boat. He uses people as well. This whole article is about how they (may have) tried to use each other.

The main case of CDW that I found in this acad. article was a claim that I picked up from the author's connotations. The claim is that Clepatra makes her moves for her own well-being or to protect herself. Likewise, the amazing thing that I find about Caesar is that he supresses his sexual desires and is totally business first. (In itself there is a contrast between Antony and Caesar, but that's another story.)

There is much data that backs this up. One of the best, I feel is when Levin says the following quote in the article: "Of most interest is the possiblity that the death she speaks of is not death at all but a metaphor for sexual orgasm." Like this, there are so many quotes throughout the article that imply Cleo as using her sexuality to lure people, not just Caesar, into her web. Another quote that supports the claim dealing with Caesar is, "Caesar no longer has need of Cleopatra to eliminate Antony, and her death would complete Caesar's conquest of the east." With this we can easily see how Caesar has a single eye on his goal and is using every advantage that he has to reach that goal.

The warrant explains that the two are indeed working their "magic" on one another. As a result, Caesar wins, obviously, because he got was he was striving for, Cleopatra's death. This article offered many insights that I couldn't see until I read it. I think Levin did an excellent job, although a few of the sexual examples might have been a stretch, but hey... if you can prove it, it works, right?

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4 Comments

LoNigro...we have the same thought about Caesar and Cleopatra's mind/sexual game. It was great to see for once a man that is business first than sex. Caesar couldn't lower his standards for anyone, especially the Egyptian beauty Cleopatra. If he did, i feel as if his men would have in a way looked down on him in a way of power. I thought Caesar was a very clever man for playing in the game with Cleo. He stuck in there and played the whole game. If you read my blog, you will see that i went a little farther into the claim and more detail. Take a look see.

This article certainly didn't make Cleopatra look very good. It was similar to those situations you see in film where a woman is doing everything she can to seduce someone (this happens alot in James Bond movies), and the male stands strong and goes about his own business... Caesar was on a mission. He knew he could most likely have any woman he wanted, and he wasn't about to jeopardize his kingdom for Cleopatra.

You're right, Andy. This really helped me understand what Dr. Jerz wanted. The "Black Widow" concept was very clever and true. She used everyone she could for power and Caesar was suppressed. He was like the polar opposite of Antony who loved his fishing and drinking.

I realy enjoy it when I see discussion of academic articles like this. I rarely got to do that sort of thing until I was in grad school, and that made it difficult for me to evaluate and critique the academic articles I encountered while doing my upper-level undergrad research projects (pretty much on my own). I'm looking forward to our discussion of this article.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy published on February 27, 2006 9:16 PM.

Poilitics or Opinion? was the previous entry in this blog.

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