After Antony died, this play suddenly became less interesting for me… Octavius felt both relieved for losing his biggest enemy, but also sad for losing a friend. His monologue was dry, I can’t imagine how he performed his oration at the Senate—oh but he was the single ruler at that time, so everyone must listen to him…
Octavius sent Proculeius to give sweet promises to Cleopatra only to prevent her from killing herself, so that Octavius could top his triumph procession to Rome by exhibiting her. Then Octavius sent also Gallus to Egypt to divert Cleopatra’s attention. Further on Octavius exhibited his former (gentle he said) letters to Antony to prove that he was actually reluctant to have a war with him. Oh such a hypocrite…
In Alexandria, Proculeius and Gallus arrived. While Proculeius persuaded Cleopatra to wait until Octavius came, Gallus suddenly captured her. Cleopatra dragged her dagger but the suicide attempt was stopped by Proculeius. Cleopatra spent her last times to memorize the greatness of Antony—I wonder if deep in her heart she ever had any remorse of what she had done to Antony? Did she really truly love Antony, as a woman, not a politician?
Her humiliating attitude when accusing her treasury of lying just showed how desperate Cleopatra was, when she knew that she had lost everything. And what a hypocrite Octavius was to say such: “..believe
Caesar’s no merchant, to make prize with you, Of things that merchants sold” while after Cleopatra died, he robbed her palace and moved all the exclusive things from it to Rome.
The Death of Cleopatra – Hans Makart ~1875
By the way, what Dolabella did was very risky, but we might already know, Cleopatra’s charm was difficult to deny… It’s really an irony to compare Antony’s and Cleopatra’s death. Antony, a great general, must ask Eros’ help to kill him, and must take his men example before he had the courage to stab himself—and still failed!—while Cleopatra prepared everything so calmly, effectively, and so bravely.
“Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air, my other elements
I give to baser life”
Fortunately Octavius did generously by burying Antony and Cleopatra together.
“She shall be buried by her Antony.
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous. High events as these
Strike those that make them, and their story is
No less in pity than his glory which
Brought them to be lamented.”
My final thoughts about this play? Please wait for my final review in a few days….