Antony and Cleopatra

TMA 01

Part 1 Cleopatra.

Compare and contrast the ways in which the passage below attempts to discredit Antony with the ways this is done in the speech attributed to Octavian by Cassius Dio (in reading 1.1 of Book 1 Chapter 1).

There are both similarities and differences in the ways that Plutarch and Dio seek to discredit Antony, some of which I shall outline here.
Both authors are writing long after the events they are recounting, Plutarch around 150 years later and Dio over 200 years later. This tells us they were not contemporaries of any of the people and events they are describing and therefore their writings cannot   be credited as eye witness accounts. Neither employ impartial primary sources, as is expected of today's historians, they are examples of   narrative history. The two sources reiterate the traditional Roman viewpoint that Antony's infatuation with Cleopatra ultimately led to his downfall. However, their perceptions of both Antony and the role Cleopatra played in his ruin are disparate.
In the passage from Plutarch, Antony is depicted   as a besotted teenager. He is charged with what are implied to be unmanly 'excesses in his behaviour towards Cleopatra' (assignment booklet, 2008, p.19), by a friend of Octavian. He would 'receive love letters from her and read them through in public' (p.19). He abandons the tribunal at the sight of Cleopatra to accompany her on her way, 'hanging onto her litter' (p.19). These actions would have been highly distasteful to a Roman society as 'the Roman world did not value romantic love'.(Fear,2008, p.11) .
I believe Plutarch uses Antony and his relationship with Cleopatra as a moralistic cautionary tale. Cleopatra is not represented as the sole reason for Antony's downfall or as a threat to Rome, but rather as the ultimate temptation which pre-existing flaws and weaknesses in Antony's character made it impossible for him to resist. It's Antony's weakness and self indulgence that seals his own fate not...