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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Black Cleopatra
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0758  Wednesday, 4 April 2001

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Mar 2001 13:09:00 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0744 Re: Black Cleopatra

[2]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Mar 2001 16:23:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0744 Re: Black Cleopatra


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Mar 2001 13:09:00 -0600
Subject: 12.0744 Re: Black Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0744 Re: Black Cleopatra

Clifford quotes the Sunday Times of London:

>Eleven statues of Cleopatra that had previously been thought to portray
>other queens will be displayed together for the first time. They show
>the queen as plain-looking with a streak of sternness. She was probably
>no more than 5ft tall and appears to have been plump. Her image is more
>that of an Egyptian blue-stocking academic than a red-hot lover.

I hate to be difficult but are we to assume that Marc Antony, not to
mention his sexually ambivalent foster father, fell insanely in love
with a dowdy, dumpy intellectual? I don't say it's impossible, but it
does seem to me unlikely, especially considering the type that the Man
of Action (like Antony) usually goes for.

I remember doing some research on Billy the Kid some years back and
coming on a very well informed historian who debunked perhaps ninety per
cent of the killings attributed to him. Yet it was a fact that in
everything that happened at that time (there was a range war going on,
and when some of his friends got killed he went slightly nuts), he was
the one that always got accused or at least named. Obviously, people of
the time were terrified of him as a gun-slinger. Even if shoot-outs he
never took part in were attributed to him, he was clearly a legend as a
gun-hand well before his death. If the people who knew him considered
him such a threat, he probably was one.

In Cleopatra's case, something must have made her sensually overpowering
or she could not have used her sensuality to protect herself and her
throne.  Before I believed what this article says, I'd want to look into
the matter more carefully.

Regards,
Don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Mar 2001 16:23:11 -0500
Subject: 12.0744 Re: Black Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0744 Re: Black Cleopatra

My understanding is that Shakespeare had available to him the
description in Plutarch which I do not have to hand but which describes
Cleopatra as not particularly beautiful but as having a charismatic
charm that won over those with whom she came in contact, a charm
magnified by the many languages she spoke and understood and her keen
sense of politics and world affairs.

When I teach the Roman Empire literature I always include that
description and a poem by Horace (also prob. available to Shakespeare I
would think) in which Horace calls for the breaking out of the really
good wine now Cleo's defeated, assaults her in rather insulting ways,
but then concludes by describing her means of death and praising her:
"She was no weak-kneed woman."

I have always seen this line in connection with Shakespeare's Cleo who,
by the end of the play, is the most Roman of them all (while Antony, of
course, has Orientalized himself to a shameful--in Roman terms at
least--degree),

Mari Bonomi

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