Dirty Politics

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Intro to Lit. Study-- EL150

Shakespeare, Anthony & Cleopatra Acts I & II

So... what can I say about the first acts of the play? Just that sex, corruption, and politics seem to go hand in hand in this play. Just like some of the things that we see in D.C. But when love and politics comes together... it is definetly not a good mix. Caeser sees how and tells Ledipus how Rome can be affected.

Caesar
You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know
It is not Caesar's natural vice to hate
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 abstract from all faults
That all men follow.

Cleopatra is known thoughout history, even in Shakespeare's time as a brilliant politician. Using her beauty to keep a good standing with the most powerful empire in the world. But her jelousy of Fulvia and Octavia may be her downfall.

Compare this play to the politics today, where the is someone trying to keep the peace. Ledipus fits this description. Caesar at this point is so convinced that Anthony will fail if he is still involved with Cleopatra. Enobarbus describes how Cleopatra's beauty captured him:

Enobarbus
I will tell you.
The barge she sat in,
Like a burnished throne,
Burned on the water;
The poop was beaten gold,
Purple the sail so perfumed that
The winds were love sick with them
The oars were silver,
Which to the tunes of the flute keep stroke
And made the water which they beat follow faster
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggared all description: she did lie
In her pavilion-cloth-of-gold of tissue-
O'er- picturing that Venus where we see

So do you think that love can work in something like politics? Remember it is a historical tragedy!

2 Comments

Great point Kevin! I think that Cleopatra's beauty was indeed Antony's downfall. It's interesting that you bring modern day politics and scandals and such into the mix. It never occured to me that in Shakespeare's time, they had many of the same problems that are occuring now.

Antony's desire for the Egytptian beauty and the lack of love in his life allowed for his somewhat "downfall", I guess you could say. But I dont really call love a horrible thing. If you are able to manage the love and your duty to fight, then props to you. I think that love will never be able to work in politics Kevin, just because our society will always be there to punch you when your down. To me, its not surprising that sex, corruption, and politics happened in Shakespeare time.
Kevin I really enjoyed how you said that Cleopatra is known as a brilliant politician. We know!