I. Paul Cantor, Shakespeare's Rome: Republic and Empire, Cornell 1976

A. Republic's emphasis on martial valor in citizens, which conquered the world; Empire was holding action

1. civic virtue; devotion to city; competitive nobility; sense of participation departed

2. AC's emphasis on eating and drinking and erotics

a. Cleo as dish 2.6.126, 5.2.274 or morsel l.5.31

b. Octavius caught up in round of drunkenness 2.7.98,122

3. Rome and Egypt not polarized, but mutually influencing--Alexandrian feast 2.1.23 and Egyptrian Bacchanals 2.7. 96

4. Ventidius wont pursue victory and conquest because of hierarchy; he's loyal to his captain, not to Empire; worries about overstepping; a non-republican attitude

a. Enobarbus is lost without his leader; no sense of obligation to Rome; dies like a pining lover

i. SM: similar to what happens to Brutus, who has plenty of purpose

b. empahsis on personal fidelity makes defeat preferable to victory 2.1.7; 5.5.36; 2.1.13; 4.2.16

5. pushes men from public to private life

6. tyrannical behavior of Cleo and Ant toward messengers; class atmosphere of non-equals; masters and slaves

a. surrounded by flatterers; create their own world of illusions

b. animal and godlike

7. judged by intention rather than deeds

8. city and crowd no longer an actor

a. no sense of specific geographic places in city; no senate

9. sense of decadence--of the rigors and vitality of the Roman past and of life being old age, applied to Cleopatra and memory of her youth 3.3.116 [but contrast salad days]

a. Rome in Tiber melts, as does Antony's sense of himself


10. Gods undermine political purpose rather support it 3.13.111

a. exit of Hercules, entrance of Bacchus

B. Standing peerless--Imperial lovers corresponds to imperial politics--as is warned by Cassius in JC

1. elimination of rivals rather than competition 5.1.37

2. warfare rather than lovemaking as occupation of Republic; austerity of armed camp

3. Time of universal peace is near 4.6.4=decadence and bordeom; spiritual vacuum

C. liberation of Eros

1. test of love is how much one is willing to sacrifice for one's beloved

2. pattern of doubt followed by reassurance; connection between passion and insecurity

3. contrast to marriage with Octavia which is supported by law and convention; law unto themselves; no other law binds

a. cloyless sauce 2.1.25, smooth love is boring 1.3.1-10

b. comic/tragic mix

c. he misunderstands her refusal to betray him with Octavian in 3.13; also paranoic about betrayal at 4.12.9, 24

4. love and death

a. boundlessness 1.1.14, 2.2.234

b. indiffernce to all other reality

c. sensual experience of death

d. create religion of afterlife together

e. imaginations of one another transcend reality 5.2.96

i. focus on dreams and imagiantion

f. Cleopatra's final asceticism

g. death as consummated marriage

h. death aslo as preservation of honor and reputation from Caesar's control

i. image of melting but also reaching out to Eros for support 4.14.1

j. Wagnerian ending

k. not a private, but a public love-death

l. contradictory flow of their emotions

i. ambiguity and temporizing of clown at end, re death and afterlife

(1). other samples: crocodile discourse 2.7.41

II. Janet Adelman, The Common Liar, New Haven 1973

A. Antony bungles Actium and his own suicide; Cleo calls him divine; words don't fit action; plauys asks questions about its own meaning

B. "Sh. assures both our uncertainty and final hesitant leap of faith" (12)

1. raises questions but gives no clear answers --cf. Hamlet

a. why did A marry Oct.

b. does A. return to East for love of Cl or because spsirit is overpowered when near Oct.

c. does Cleo use Thidias for sake of game or to woo Octaviuis

d. is scene with Seleucus to deceive Oct. or to save goods

e. what's resonsible for final yielding of fleet to Oct. after previous victory? Was Cleo. responsible as he assumes?

i. is Cleop. disloyal or not

f. characters question meaning

i. [this is all very like Hamlet]

ii. we are not privy to their motivation

iii. question of interpretation [inference] raised repeatedly

iv. argumentation is central mode; not even Romans can agree

v. dramatic structure creates questions

(1). audience told one thing and sees another

(2). told two conflicting things about what is seen

(3). scenes of action framed by commentaries of minor characters and other

(a). lots of information provided by messengers--unreliable

(b). we see more of worlds view of maos ha their view of world

(4). disjunctive episodes juxtaposed

(5). images of likeness and difference

(a). receptions of bad news; handshakes and kisses; figs; Decratas and Eros

(b). Cleopatra as snare or the world as snare

(c). association of love, war and death

(6). generic confusion: comic, tragic or satirical perspective?

(7). metatheatrical view: Cleop 5.2.219 sees her greatness boy'd

C. Tradition of A and C is "Common Liar"; conflicts of opinion in previous accounts of lovers

1. Augustan history make A and C the last obstacles to Octavius' triumph, therfore C a whore

2. Tacitus saw reign of Octavius as final deathblow to Roman liberty

a. discussed debate about Octavius at his funeral: used force only when necessary to establish peace; used peace as excuse to disguise his lust for power (55)

b. Plutarch also consideres several views (NB) of deified Augustus

c. Cleo arouses both repulsion and attraction in sources; shifting attitudes in horaces odes.

i. Chaucer makes her martyr for love

d. ambiguity of images: serpent, horse, crocodile; witch or Fairy Queene or Circe

i. Egypt: biblical fertility and fleshpots vs. ancient wisdom

ii. Dido and Aeneas 4.14.51; Mars and Venus 1.5.17; other gods: Isis, Thetis, Hercules, Bacchus

(1). Hercules chose between Pleasure and Virtue; captived by Ompahle, he dresses in female clothes

(2). extremes of martial and venereal virtues--many conflicting interpreations of myth of M and V

D. Nature's Piece 'gainst Fancy: Poetry and the Structure of Belief

1. C. has visions of Antony when he's absent; after his death the most monumental--human form divine

a. do we accept or reject the lovers' visions of themselves? Cleop. as Venus (Enob.) or boy actor?

b. poetry of last two acts is generally acknowledged as sleight of hand by which Sh. transforms our sympathies toward the lovers. (103)

i. poetry at end is magnificent but strains our credulity

ii. debate in first scene between philo's hyperbolical condemnation and lovers' hyperbolical self praise: moral vs. aesthetic judgement

(1). lovers dont see hyperbole and metaphor as such; take it literally

2. validity of imaginative vision...is part of Sh's subject in AC (106)

a. love is tied to imagination; created by it and yet to succeed cant be dominated by it

i. AC is midway between Troilus and romances; scepticism and credulity must be balanced NB [cf. dangers of credulity and imagination in love as perverted by Iago]

ii. AC articulates all scepticism about everything and therby defusing it and then demanding assent--[sceptical fideism of Montaigne]

(1). paradox of faith--necessary only when reason dictates doubt

(2). rhetorical figures that involve this process: paradox and hyperbole

(a). both appropriate to language of love: cf. Phoenix and Turtle

(b). both appeal to doubt

(c). Peacham's def. of hyperbole: "By incredible comparison giving credit"

(d). paradoxes of sexual appetite

(3). Enobarbus is spokesman for Cleopatra's paradoxes; Antony's defintion by hyperbole continues through the play

(4). Aggrip. and Enobarb. mock Lepidus with comic sycophantic hyperbole; "third part of world" mocked in 2.7.88

(5). hyperbole is stage language of tyrants [Tamb] and A. is mocked by Cleopatra and others as miles gloriosus 3.13.126

(6). Cleopatra tells us "wishers are fools" and yet wishes.

b. poetic process as poetic theme

i. lovers are hyperbolical; immoderate excess which Roman world measures and subdues

(1). like the Nile hyperbole overflows the measure, breeding both crops and serpents

(a). temper, temperance, means moderation and measure; Octavian embodies it

(1). love and grace are inimical to temperance

(2). A. views his own loss of measure and self throughout; feels boundaries dissolving

(3). A's bounty always overflows 4.6.20;4.6.29, 5.2.86

(4). breeds life out of death like Nile; autumnal vitality; in Egypt, loss is the only way to gain.

(a). A's bounty is dependent upon his generosity of self, finally upon his loss of self.

(5). Hercules a figure of immoderation; with his departure, excess leaves the earth

(6). Eno. is figure of moderation who attempts to live in a world of excess; his death teaches us the cost of skepticism.

(a). He chooses to obey Roman dictates of his reason and then sees the pettiness of his choice with an overflowing gnerosityh of spirit.

(7). Octavian is full; measure is necessry virtue in world of business

(a). excludes previous heroic world of Roman valor--of Julius Casear and Pompey who, according to Sh.'s disotrition of record, were fatehrs of Oct. and Pompey and Cleo's salad days lovers

(2). Pompey says B and C killed Caesar "that they would have one man but a man 2.6.14

(a). Antony's age associates him with Roman heroic past, mounrned here 4.15.65

(1). reverses pattern of Y vs. A in new comedy

ii. play itself is violation of all measure, decorum. Egyptian decorum 4.15.4, 5.2.15

(1). scenes, acts, characters

(2). issue of identity vs. metamorphosis; becoming over being

iii. water imagery 1.2.45; 3/2/48, 2.7.59 (quicksand) --all Dionysiac; drunken boat; Antony as boat

(1). sea fight; barge; Enobarbus objects 3.7.41; A. rejects Roman firmness; melting images; dissolution; liquefaction

(2). world of genration; overflowing; ecstatic union of lovers as they die

iv. time vs. timelessness

(1). 2.5. 111; Cl. calls messenger back, but 4 dense scenes all over empire intervene before he returns; "time has rushed on in Rome; it has virtually stood still in Egypt." 153-4

c. the structure of assent

i. Cl. asks Dol. if her dream is true; he says no; she says he lies up to the hearing of the gods. 5.2.95

ii. dramatic structure makes us identify more with protagonists after 4.12; works to give us feeling of assent in spite of all logic. Longer scenes; Word "come"; tension in language replaced by ease; release from strain; loss of self is affirmed at end, no longer feared

(1). leap of faith at end--they will meet in Elyzsium

(a). death presented in many ways earlier as not final; Cl. revives; so does A.

(b). union of lovers at end not asserted only by them but also by bystanders

(1). 4.14.106

(2). 5.2.192

(3). 5.2.309

(4). 5.2.77,344

(c). dreams and soothsayers may be more true than reality

(2). Cleopatra's lips do not have the power to quicken with kissing. Only in the Witner's Tale do lips have that power...in the romances these very impossibilities become acutal on stage. The poetic assertions of A and C become the literal facts of the romances.

(a). Anton asserts his own version of pastoral rebirth when he says "Where souls do couch on flowers, we'll hand in hand" 4.14.51...As AC moves toward the attainment of the impossible, it leaves the realm of tragedy and moves toward romance.

(b). The art here is not pure nature, as it is in WT: it is after all the imaginatin of an Antony wihch is nature's piece.

E. Appendix: Cleopatra's Blackness

1. Cl. tells us she's black (1.5.28), but use of word is slippery; could mean brunette; as dark lady of sonnets

2. Sh. might nevertheless have imagined her as dark: gipsy=Egyptian=sunburned; theory that Africans are black because of sunburn; in the Masque of Blackness, Egypt and Ethiopia are associated; suggestions of dark complexion here would make Cleopatra's sensual character more readily acceptable to Shakespeare's audience.

III. Michael Goldman, Acting and Action in Sh. Tragedy, Princeton 1985

A. In AC greatness is primarily a command over other people's imaginations; registered in the behavior of audiences

B. immediate cause for Cleo's suicide is inadequate rpresentation on stage; also joke, since that's what's happening; A's idea of paradise is having better audience than Dido and Aeneas; they love each other for the beauty of their performances

C. Enobarbus' triubte: tending on Cleo is transforming; she transforms everything, including those who describe her, beggaring description, commanding imagination

D. perspective on her spectacle: from Philo's put down to Enobarbus' report, to her spectacle of suicide

E. She converts Dolabella from Caesar's tool to her own with her hyperbolic praise of Antony

F. sense of their greatness depends on actors' animal magnetism; self display; and respond to its presence in the other

1. glamor of great leaders and actors; culturally suspect--they make vile things becoming; they skate close to shoddiness; glitzy

G. use of word "becoming" 2.2.240, 1.1.48, 1.3.85,95; =both "seem attractive" and "become attractive"

H. images of transformation: insubstantial attractiveness making substantial change--4.14, 2-8; long analysis of this cloud speech, showing that it makes clouds more substantial

1. imaginative command over eros at this point

2. last long section of the play, after A's second defeat at Actium, is process of elevation and transformation, as his body is raised to tower, as things arise from ooze of Nile

3. oscillation of fortunes in play may not be just horizontal like tides 1.4.41 but also vertical like Niles rise and fall, and fertilizing; she converts death to sensual experience and exaltation as she dies

I. moral dubiousness of A and C