Cleopatra and Antony

What does the following passage tell us about Plutarch’s views on Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship?

      Plutarch wrote the autobiography ‘Life of Antony’ in the second century CE. Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt and the last in the Hellenistic line and Antony was a Roman general. Using the extract, Plutarch’s views about their relationship will be explored.

      The Romans lived by values of civility, discipline and traditions which did not recognise “romantic love” or “mutual attachment” (Fear, 2008, p11). Plutarch believed Cleopatra used her female wiles to mislead and pamper the once manly Antony. The words “fresh delight and charm” show how Cleopatra relieved Antony in his “hours of seriousness or mirth” (Plutarch, Assignment Booklet).   She entertained him leaving him “neither night nor day”, illustrating the intensely infatuated and stifling behaviour from Cleopatra (Plutarch, Assignment Booklet). Antony was kept under her “constant tutelage” suggestive of Cleopatra being his keeper (Plutarch, Assignment Booklet).

      The words “mad follies” portrays Antony’s enamoured behaviour (Plutarch, Assignment Booklet).   Cleopatra was said to be Antony’s “crowning mischief” that brought out the “madness” within (Scott-Kilvert, 1965, in Fear, 2008, p.9). She “played”, “drank”, “hunted” and “watched” with Antony (Plutarch, Assignment Booklet). This implies that the Egyptian queen was almost unfeminine in her behaviour going so far as dressing as a servant with Antony to spy on commoners.

      The extract hints at the two manipulating each other. This is shown when a “vexed” (Plutarch, Assignment Booklet) Antony is fishing, not wanting to lose face; he cheats by having a fish hooked onto his line. However the manipulative side of Cleopatra is revealed, as she is aware of Antony’s deception. To humiliate him, she invites friends to watch “her lover’s skill” and has a “salted Pontie herring” fixed onto his line (Plutarch, Assignment Booklet). This...