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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Black Cleopatra
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0523  Tuesday, 6 March 2001

[1]     From:   Evelyn Gajowski <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Mar 2001 08:56:28 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?

[2]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Mar 2001 10:07:36 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?

[3]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Mar 2001 13:28:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Evelyn Gajowski <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Mar 2001 08:56:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?

To Richard Burt,

The summer 1988 production of *Antony and Cleopatra* at
Shakespeare/Santa Cruz, directed by Michael Edwards, cast a black as
Cleopatra.  It also, coincidentally, featured the most stunning opening
of the play I have seen: at Cleopatra's and Antony's entrance at 1.1.10,
she wore Antony's armor and "sword," while he wore her "tires and
mantles" (2.5.22-23).

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Mar 2001 10:07:36 -0800
Subject: 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?

>Is it now widely accepted among Shakespeareans that Shakespeare's
>Cleopatra is black?

This again? Apparently the Elizabethans knew more about ancient history
than critics do today. Cleopatra was a Ptolemy, a Greek.  Also, when
Shakespeare says "black" he doesn't use the word as we do today, he uses
it as we do when we say the "black Irish," meaning dark hair and brows,
with no reference at all to skin tone.

     Stephanie Hughes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Mar 2001 13:28:36 -0500
Subject: 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0511 Is Cleopatra Black?

Richard Burt writes that it is

>now widely accepted among Shakespeareans that Shakespeare's
>Cleopatra is black ("with Phoebus's amorous pinches black")?  M. Neill
>and A. Little, Jr. assume that she is without question.  Janet Adelman
>explored the question brilliantly but more tentatively in Appendix C of
>The Common Liar.  If so, is this a development in academic criticism
>only?

Certainly historians do not believe that Cleopatra was black.  See,
e.g., Michael Grant's Cleopatra. She was Greek, but, you know, maybe a
little tanned by the sun's kisses. But perhaps this is an answer to a
question that you are not asking.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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