Antony and Cleopatra

What impression does Dio give of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra, and how does this impression relate to other Roman attitudes in the chapter?

Dio’s work is a history of Augustus and written from the perspective of a Roman and therefore an enemy of Cleopatra. The work was written two hundred years after the fact leaving the detail imprecise but the overwhelming Roman sentiment accurate.

Dio sets out to character assassinate Antony and Cleopatra to his Roman readers. He does this by relating how Antony acts as a gymnasiarch and addresses Cleopatra as “queen” or “mistress” (Cassius Dio 50.5) and that “Roman soldiers guard her and bear her name on their shields” (ibid). These things are to show us how Antony is subservient and Cleopatra his better, something unacceptable to Romans. Dio continues by relating how Antony while accompanying Cleopatra to the market place to preside over festivals or to hear law suits, “”would walk behind the queen among her eunuchs” (ibid) a parody for the unmanning of Antony.

Antony was, whilst an enemy, still a brave Roman warrior and Dio, understanding this, lays the blame for his fall on Cleopatra. He accuses her of bewitching and manipulating not just Antony but his entire entourage thus offering extenuating circumstances for the behaviour of all the Romans involved . Having outraged his fellow Romans Dio says “so surely as I shall one day give judgement on the capitol” (Cassius Dio 50.5) Cleopatra’s claim that she will rule Rome, the most scandalous accusation of all.

Most of what Dio writes is mirrored in other Roman works of the period written on the subject. A speech attributed to Augustus before the battle of Actium, though re-written two hundred years later, accuses Cleopatra of having a fatal influence on Antony; she is said by Augustus to have removed his mental faculties, that he had no resistance to temptation. Very like the Dio text Augustus deflects the reasons for Antonys fall, acknowledging him...