Friday, November 30, 2012

December’s Reading Events and Plans

How time has been running very fast! At this time tomorrow I would be starting the first day of December by a reading event.

It’s o (Delaisse)’s December Readathon to start December (1 – 2 December)

I’ll be spending most of my times during this weekend reading Great Expectations; no internet (yes, I’ll pluck off my modem connection for two days, how difficult that would be? I can do it!). I have started Great Expectations to around page 130s, so let’s see where I would end up at the end of this readathon (I’ll post about this later).

I’m reading Great Expectations also for another reading event:

Dickens in December hosted by Caroline and Delia

Great Expectations is the only novel I’m going to read for this event, saving two others in my TBR pile for my own upcoming event on February 2013: Celebrating Dickens. But, I’ll watch movie adaptations of Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol for the Watchalong. Hopefully I can finish the reading before the watchalong!

Apart from GE for those two events, I’m going to read Merchant of Venice for my Let’s Read Plays event, Heart of Darkness for my WEM Self Project, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for completing my Historical Fiction Challenge (hosted by Maria).

Wew…it’s a month full of events/project/challenge, but it makes me even more excited! Yeah…I love challenges! ;) What about you, what’s your plan for the last month of this year?

Oh, and don’t forget to check my Book Kaleidoscope 2012 feature, in case you want to wrap up your reading experience of the whole 2012 in an interesting feature!...

What should I stay—: Antony and Cleopatra – Act V

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….

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gaius Cassius in Julius Caesar

Gaius Cassius was the senator who had inspired the conspiracy against Rome’s dictator at that time: Julius Caesar. Cassius was actually one of Caesar’s friends. He fought with Caesar under Pompey’s rule, and Cassius had witnessed in many incidents that Caesar was not as strong as people thought. It was when they must across the flooding Tiber, Cassius could make it but Caesar couldn’t; he cried at Cassius to help him, and help Caesar he did.

I, as Aeneas our great ancestor
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber
Did I the tired Caesar

But what happened after that? Caesar climbed the stairs to the top, and became the top ruler of Rome, while Cassius now must lower himself in front of the man he once helped.

And this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature and must bend his body
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.

Personal envy! That is where the conspiracy had begun. Cassius felt that he was not less than Caesar, but why must he bend his body towards Caesar? Why must Caesar become his boss? Moreover, Cassius felt he was more capable physically and mentally than Caesar, who he referred as ‘a sick girl’.

I was born free as Caesar, so were you;
We both have fed as well, and we can both
Endure the winter’s cold as well as he.

However Cassius was clever enough to know that he would need Brutus to convince people of Rome that the conspiracy was for their sake, for Rome’s honor—because Brutus was an honorable man.

To me Cassius was an opportunist. I believed he and Brutus was not a very good friend, but when he needed Brutus, Cassius suddenly claimed as his a long time friend who Brutus had recently neglected.

Brutus, I do observe you now of late;
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love as I was wont to have;
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you.

Well….be careful if one of your not-too-close friends suddenly came to you complaining that you haven’t called for him/her for a long time, and how he/she had missed you. Often than not, he/she was expecting something from you…

And look how he convinced Brutus to join him, for when he saw that even after he marked Caesar’s weakness and flattered Brutus’ fame among the people, Brutus still needed time to reflect, the impatient Cassius used then a dirty trick of false letters. Cassius really knew how to deal with honorable men like Brutus!

At the end of the civil war, both Brutus and Cassius killed themselves, but with different reason. The noble Brutus because he would like to die honorably in the battle field; while Cassius—I think—because he was terrified of being punished when he was brought back to Rome, so terrified that he was mistakenly taken the shouts of joy as his troops’ loss--while it’s actually their win—and he killed himself at that. A tragic way to die, but a fair avenge for what he’d done to Caesar!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Kaleidoscope 2012 - Announcement

The year 2012 almost come to the end. In terms of reading, it has been a wonderful year for me. I have read a lot of great classics, and as usual I like to rewind my reading experience during the year. Starting this year, I will wrap it up in a new feature called: Book Kaleidoscope. There will be three categories, and for each category I will pick the top five best books, and I will post them separately around the last week of December.

Now, you are welcomed if you are interested in doing the same. It’s only for fun, and for a remembrance or portrait of great books we have read this year. Here they are…

Day 1 (December 27th) - Top Five Book Boy/Girl Friends

From all the books you have read throughout the year, rank five male characters (if you are female) or top five female characters (if you are male) you love the most. Tell us the reason, and it would be great if you use images to describe them (if the book has been made into movie, you can share photo(s) of the best actors/actresses to perform them).

Day 2 (December 28th) – Top Five Best Book Covers

Rank five covers of books you have read in 2012. Pick the edition that you really read, but if you read ebook, at least pick the one that you used for your post. Tell us why you think them gorgeous.

And last but certainly not least….

Day 3 (December 31st) – Top Five Most Favorite Books

No explanation needed for this topic, of course…; just rank and let us know books you found most awesome, and you have enjoyed the most! (and why…).

You can use any kind of books (don’t have to be classics), as long as you have a book blog. You don’t need to sign up or something, but if you want, you can leave a comment below.

The above schedules are mine, it’s good if we all can post on the same schedule simultaneously, but it’s understandable if you prefer to have your own schedule.

You can put the Book Kaleidoscope button in your posts if you want (I love the picture..).

I will open a linky for you to submit your posts. The linky will be up on December 20th (in case you want to post it earlier) and closed on January 15th (in case you can’t make it around the end of the year). I can’t promise you that I will visit and read each of your posts (year ends are usually hectic!), but I’ll try :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Antony’s Hath Triumphed On Itself: Antony and Cleopatra – Act IV

Scene I – IV : Before The Battle

The last battle would begin; Caesar was with firm confidence, while Antony became very melancholy. He called his servants and spoke passionately to them, as Enobarbus described it: “To make his followers weep.” Meanwhile the soldiers out in their camp heard soft music in the air that seemed to come from the earth; they were saying that it was a bad signs that Hercules had left Antony… (fortunately no ghost appearance this time!!)

Looking at Antony’s preparations for the final battle—from his melancholy speech to his servants to his approach to his soldiers—I believe Antony was actually hiding his desperation. He entered the battle field not as a great general as he used to be, but as a man who was trapped by his enemy, and this final battle would be his last hope—whether he’d win it or die in honor.

Scene V - VI: Enobarbus’ Betrayal

The high-minded of Antony showed when he heard about Enobarbus’ desert. Instead of being angry, he took the blame for making an honest man betrayed his master:
I wish he never find more cause
To change a master. Oh, my fortunes have
Corrupted honest men!
This was not the first; when he lost in Actium battle, Antony left a ship full of treasure for his soldiers before he left himself. He was actually a true great general who treasured his soldiers, once again…it’s a pity that he could not divide his career to his love life!

Enobarbus now lamented his wrong decision to join Caesar and left Antony. Caesar wanted to put Antony’s desertion soldiers in front of the troops to make Antony felt like fighting his own men—even Caesar knew Antony’s weakness of loving his men.

Scene VII - VIII : The Battle Begun…

At the end of first day battle Caesar’s troops were forced back to their camp. Here Antony shared his joy with Cleopatra:
O thou day o’ the world,
Chain mine armed neck. Leap thou, attire and all,
Through proof of harness to my heart, and there
Ride on the pants triumphing!

Scene IX – XI : Poor Enobarbus & The Battle continued on…

Last words of poor Enobarbus….
O sovereign mistress of true melancholy,
The poisonous damp of night disponge upon me,
That life, a very rebel to my will,
May hang no longer on me

Meanwhile, there was an interesting strategy from both Caesar and Antony. Antony instructed his men from the sea to gather on the hills by the city because it was the best place to analyze the battle. On the other side Caesar instructed his men to take place in the valleys because Antony would be busy at the sea. He specifically said that he could not fight before Antony attacked. This would be interesting…

Scene XII – XIII : Who did really betray Antony?

Apparently Antony had been betrayed by the Egyptians—his army left him and joined Caesar’s, and Antony blamed Cleopatra for this and wished to kill her. Was this where Cleopatra did her promise to Caesar, to sacrifice Antony for her own safety? And was that why Caesar did not fight first?

Cleopatra was terrified at Antony’s rage, and she followed Charmian’s idea to hide in the monument while sending her messenger to tell Antony that she had killed herself after moaning her last word: “Antony…”. And Cleopatra clearly instructed her maid to “word it, prithee, piteously”. Hmm….

Scene XIV :  A tragedy indeed

…And who would not be touched after reading these…
Here I am Antony,
Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.
I made these wars for Egypt, and the Queen,
Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine—
Which whilst it was mine had annexed unto ’t
A million more, now lost—she, Eros, has
Packed cards with Caesar and false-played my glory
Unto an enemy’s triumph.
Nay, weep not, gentle Eros. There is left us
Ourselves to end ourselves.

Then while the eunuch Mardian came to tell the news of Cleopatra’s death, Antony gave everything up. He asked Eros, a young soldier, to unarm him from his armor which was the sign that he gave up the war.

Interesting it was to analyze Antony’s question to Eros: “Eros, thou yet behold’st me? “ Antony felt that his life was just like an illusion. How can everything he had endured be true? How absurd and how unreal they were, yet they were true. Yes, it was so tragic. At the moment when Antony should have won, he was defeated by the one he loved the most. T__T

How clever Cleopatra was, she should have known how Antony would react when he heard that she’s dead, he would kill himself. O Antony, a noble general and an affectionate lover; it’s pity you had loved the wrong woman!

Cleopatra and the Dying Mark Anthony by Pompeo Batoni, 1763
So it must be, for now
All length is torture.
Since the torch is out,
Lie down and stray no farther.”

And won’t you weep by this?...
I come, my Queen. Stay for me.
Where souls do couch on flowers, we’ll hand in hand,
And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze.
Dido and her Aeneas shall want troops,
And all the haunt be ours.”

Diomedes came carrying Cleopatra’s words that she was still alive, hiding in the monument (what a perfect timing…). So Antony asked his soldiers to carry him to Cleopatra.

Scene XV : Antony’s last words


“…Please your thoughts
In feeding them with those my former fortunes,
Wherein I lived the greatest prince o’ th’ world,
The noblest, and do now not basely die,
Not cowardly put off my helmet to
My countryman—a Roman by a Roman
Valiantly vanquished.”

O thou noblest Antony! He finally died in Cleopatra’s embrace, then Cleopatra fainted upon this.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Celebrating Dickens – February 2013 – Sign Up Post

On the occasion of Charles Dickens’ 201st anniversary on February 7th, 2013, Fanda Classiclit will be dedicating the whole month for…

Celebrating Dickens

An event where we will show our loves and admiration to Dickens by reading his works (books, short stories, poems, plays etc.), reading books about Dickens, watching his movies adaptations, sharing our thoughts about Dickens, analyzing his famous book’s characters, or sharing how Dickens has been affecting our lives. In short, during February we could post anything, as many as possible, all about Dickens. We will be celebrating Dickens the whole month!

For now, the main plan is to read any Dickens books, but if you guys meet friends who are planning to read the same book and want to do it together, you can host your own mini read along for that certain title in your blog. I will support you by announcing your mini read along and putting the announcement on my side bar, just let me know by filling this form. I have Little Dorrit (book and DVD of the miniseries) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood to read for this event, let me know if you want to read them together! :)


#1. I have created a master post for Mini Readalongs. You can simply comment there if you'd like to join others or to create a new one.
#2. Birthday should get along with gifts! For Dickens' 201st anniversary, you could join 'Me and Dickens' Meme which take place on February 7th as your special gift to Mr. Dickens. The best part is, it come with giveaway too! (it's from me, of course, not from Dickens, LOL). You don't need to sign up, just post your meme on that date, and you're in! 

Other than that, you are also invited to post about Dickens’ characters on my Character Thursday feature every Thursday during February. And of course, you can write about anything ‘Dickens’ (be creative!).

If you are interested to collaborate with me in any ways (hosting games, quizzes, giveaways, guest posts or anything) on Celebrating Dickens, please fill this form and let me know via comment when you have done it (because I do not check everyday).

You can sign up from today, just leave a comment with your name, blog name and URL! The sign up will be closed at February 1st, 2013. So come…let’s celebrate Dickens!

Any question about Celebrating Dickens? Just leave a comment here or mention me (@Fanda_A) on Twitter using hashtag #celebDickens.

List of Participants:

1. Astrid @ Books To Share
2. Darjeeling @ Darjeeling Classic
3. Sam @ Tiny Library
4. Melisa @ Surgabukuku
5. Arenel @ Slightly Cultural, Most Thoughtful and Inevitably Irrelevant
6. Dessy @ Craving for Books
7. Desty @ Desty Baca Buku
8. Bzee @ Bacaan Bzee
9. o @ Delaisse
10. Maria @ HobbyBuku's Classic
11. Rachel @ Resistance Is Futile
12. Aleetha @ It's All About Books
13. Mei @ ma petite bibilotheque
14. Joyful Reader @ For The Love Of Books
15. Cat @ Tell Me A Story
16. Melissa @ Avid Reader's Musings
17. Lydia @ Eternal Simplicity
18. Sabrina @ Notes of the Dreamer
19. Alouette @ Reading For The Sky
20. Tezar @ Membaca Buku
21. Ellie @ Musings of a Bookshop Girl
22. Whitney @ She is Too Fond of Books
23. Rereong @ Wonderful Books
24. Sarah @ Reader.Writer.Nerd
25. Delia @ Postcards from Asia
26. Priya @ Tabula Rasa
27. Joon Ann @ A Novel Attachment
28. Ruby @ House of Bronze
29. Danee @ Melihat Kembali
30. Emily @ Classics and Beyond
31. Gina Lu
32. Asha @ Asha's Literary Corner
33. Kimberly @ Inspirefly
34. Elyssa @ Unscripted
35. Ann @ My Reading Journal
36. Caro @ Reading Against The Clock
37. ahorseandacarrot @ ahorseandacarrot
38. ebookclassics @ ebookclassics
39. Patricia @ Reading During Intermission
40. You!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Men’s Judgments Are A Parcel Of Their Fortunes: Antony and Cleopatra – Act III

Scene I – A Plain in Syria

* Ventidius returned from Parthia with a win, he had revenged Crassus’ death by killing Pacorus—son of King of Parthia: Orodes. Though Ventidius could have achieved more in his war, he did not want to outrank his captain, Antony. Here is a clever soldier!
Who does i’ th’ wars more than his captain can
Becomes his captain’s captain; and ambition,
The soldier’s virtue, rather makes choice of loss
Than gain which darkens him.

Scene II – Rome. Caesar’s House

* Agrippa and Enobarbus mocked at Lepidus’ excessive love and praise for Caesar and Antony. Yeah…I realize it now. Was that Lepidus’ effort to maintain his position in the Triumvirs?

* Mark Antony and Octavia bid farewell to Caesar (they were going to Athens), and during the farewell Octavia said something secretly to her brother, what that was about, I wonder…

Scene III – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

* Once again Cleopatra looked like a foolish woman when she interrogated the messenger about Octavia; how she looked, how old she was, what kind of voice or color of hair she had, etc. Cleopatra might have done such things, but I can’t imagine her do that in the way Shakespeare wrote it. I miss the self-possessed  aura of Cleopatra. Was this the same queen of Egypt we are reading?

Scene IV – Athens. Antony’s House

* Separated from Antony, Caesar arranged hastily his way to the top. He waged a war against Pompey, and he seldom mentioned Antony’s services when reporting to the Senate. Octavia would depart to Rome to negotiate with her brother to prevent a civil war between two persons she loved the most. I’m glad Antony has acted very gentlemanly toward his wife:
Gentle Octavia,
Let your best love draw to that point which seeks
Best to preserve it. If I lose mine honor,
I lose myself; better I were not yours
Than yours so branchless.”

Scene V – Athens. Antony’s House

* Octavius finally betrayed Lepidus. Soon after winning the war against Pompey, he excelled Lepidus from Triumvirate, and even accused him for treason with Lepidus’ letter to Pompey. I’m wondering why Antony called Lepidus ‘fool’ ?....

Scene VI – Rome. Caesar’s House

* From Caesar’s point of view, Antony and Cleopatra made in public their condemnation of Rome and their ruling Egypt and the conquered countries. Caesar said that Alexander Helios and Ptolemy each ruled several countries. I don’t know whether Shakespeare has purposely forgotten Cleopatra Selene, because in fact she too had become the ruler of Cyrenaica and Libya.

* Seemed that Antony and Caesar were each accusing the other for holding the other’s share from each acquisition. Here Caesar defended himself that he deposed Lepidus because the later had been abusing his position. Oh come on Octavius… =__=

* Octavia arrived at Rome and met her brother. And what did he said to greet his (so called) beloved sister?
But you are come
A market-maid to Rome and have prevented
The ostentation of our love, which, left unshown,
Is often left unloved.”

If he knew that Antony has renewed his relationship with Cleopatra, then at least he could offer to comfort for his poor sister, instead of replying coldly…
Octavia: “…I begged his (Antony’s) pardon for return.”
Caesar:  “Which soon he granted,
   Being an obstruct ’tween his lust and him.”

Caesar then made Octavia change to his side. But I don’t think it’s as easy as that. I believe that Octavia was deeply in love with Antony, despite of his betrayal. Octavia stayed beside Octavius because she had no one else who loved her, but I think she still cared much for Antony. And I can imagine how hurt it must have been for Octavia.

Actium battle

Scene VII – Antony’s Camp Near Actium

* Enobarbus criticized Cleopatra’s presence in the war which would distract Antony’s mind and merely created another burden. Cleopatra enraged by this, and this was how Cleopatra must have had her conducts as the highest ruler of Egypt.
Sink Rome! And their tongues rot
That speak against us! A charge we bear i’ th’ war,
And as the president of my kingdom will
Appear there for a man. Speak not against it.
I will not stay behind.”
Go for it Cleopatra, and scowl that big mouth of Enobarbus!

* On the other hand, I don’t know what was happening with Antony—one of Rome’s greatest generals—has made an infamous decision of mobilizing his navy to fight Caesar, instead of battling on the land as his assistants recommended. So strong Cleopatra’s power was on him, Antony failed to listen to his men, he kept on saying stubbornly that he’ll fight by sea. So pity that such a great general should have been fallen because of lust…. :(

* While Antony was enjoying 'honeymoon' in Egypt, Caesar has been building his strong armies in disguise, that Antony’s spies failed to see it, that’s why he was suddenly so strong. Antony might be a more skillful general than Caesar, but Caesar was obviously a tougher and smarter politician. And at the end, the success/the fail were all it counted.

Scene VIII - X : The Actium battle

* Although Antony has prepared his armies on the land too, Caesar specifically instructed his men to not provoke any battle by land, because “our fortune lies upon this jump”. Caesar seemed to have held Antony’s weakness that he grew so confident. On the other hand it turned out that Antony did not know Caesar’s navy real strength before decided to fight be the sea! Egypt’s ships were attacked by Caesar’s but in critical moment, the Egyptian turned around then fled. And what Scarus had described about Antony’s conduct was really embarrassing. And so were several of his men who finally decided to desert. :( Well, not for Enobarbus. Big mouth he was—well, sometimes—but at least loyal (hopefully) to the end.
She once being loofed,
The noble ruin of her magic, Antony,
Claps on his sea-wing and, like a doting mallard
Leaving the fight in height, flies after her.
I never saw an action of such shame.
Experience, manhood, honor, ne’er before
Did violate so itself.”

Scene XI – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

* This is some of Antony’s words when he bid farewell to his men. Antony was always good with words, wasn’t he?
“…I have fled myself, and have instructed cowards
To run and show their shoulders. Friends, begone.
…You shall have letters from me to some friends that will
Sweep your way for you. Pray you, look not sad,
Nor make replies of loathness. Take the hint
Which my despair proclaims. Let that be left
Which leaves itself.”

Antony’s reflection was the most tragic piece in this play:
Yes, my lord, yes. He at Philippi kept
His sword e’en like a dancer, while I struck
The lean and wrinkled Cassius, and ’twas I
That the mad Brutus ended. He alone
Dealt on lieutenantry, and no practice had
In the brave squares of war, yet now—no matter.”

Yet he did all of that all out of love…
“…O’er my spirit thy full supremacy thou knew’st, and that
Thy beck might from the bidding of the gods
Command me….
You did know
How much you were my conqueror, and that
My sword, made weak by my affection, would
Obey it on all cause.”

O Antony, how can I really blame you?

Scene XII – Caesar’s Camp In Egypt

* Antony and Cleopatra sent a messenger to make a plea to Caesar; to live in Egypt or Athens for Antony, and to let pass Egypt’s throne to Cleopatra’s heirs for the defeated queen. Caesar sent an official ambassador to Antony, but also sent Thyreus secretly to Cleopatra to make a false offer that she would be safe if she left Antony, and joining Caesar.

Scene XIII – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

* Antony challenged Caesar for sword-to-sword battle, and after the official ambassador leave with this reply, came Thyreus with the secret offer to Cleopatra. Enobarbus was proved to be the only loyal friend of Antony, that when he saw that Cleopatra seemed to welcome the offer, he went to warn Antony immediately. And Thyreus’ plan worked—although he must suffered several whips—for Antony was raged and scowled Cleopatra in very harsh words… “You were half blasted ere I knew you. Ha!” Oops… =__=. But wait.., what he was raged on? Was he jealous because he thought Cleopatra had flirted with Thyreus?

* Antony then—still in rage—decided to have a do-or-die battle against Caesar, a suicide move according to Enobarbus who began to seek way to leave his master.
When valor preys on reason,
It eats the sword it fights with.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Antony and Cleopatra - Act II

If the great gods be just, they shall assist
The deeds of justest men.” ~Pompey

The problem was, which one of them were the ‘justest’?

Scene I – Messina. Pompey’s House

Pompey was discussing with Menecrates and Menas his chance in the coming battle against the Triumvirs. Pompey tended to underestimate the Triumvirs at first. He—just as Caesar—doubted that Antony would really leave Egypt for the war. Moreover, they hoped to use the internal dispute among the Triumvirs as one of their weapons.

Scene II – Rome. The House of Lepidus

* Lepidus was between the dispute of Caesar and Antony. Here we met again the harsh comments of Enobarbus:
Or, if you borrow one another’s love for the instant, you may, when you hear no more words of Pompey, return it again. You shall have time to wrangle in when you have nothing else to do.”
Don’t you just want to slap him in the face? :|

* In this scene Mark Antony obviously overshadowed Caesar in their quarrel. Instead of Caesar demanding Antony’s conduct in Egypt, it seemed more like Antony pointed how absurd it was to relate his brother and Fulvia’s war to him (Antony), and how more unreasonable it was to fuss over a woman’s offense. Caesar here looked like a crying child, while Antony a noble gentleman. Bravo Antony!
Truth is that Fulvia,
To have me out of Egypt, made wars here,
For which myself, the ignorant motive, do
So far ask pardon as befits mine honor
To stoop in such a case.”

And on top of their dispute, Agrippa came with a perfect idea, which is to marry Mark Antony with Octavia—Caesar’s beloved sister; which Antony agreed it. A brilliant idea from Agrippa it seemed at the moment perhaps, but we know that it was useless, because one ship cannot have two captains. Moreover, it’s a great risk—considering how Caesar loved Octavia dearly, and how Antony had passionately fallen in love with Cleopatra, that if someday he left Octavia for Cleopatra, his relationship with Caesar would be in a much greater danger than at that present time.

* Enobarbus’ description of Cleopatra and her luxurious barge at the moment of her first meeting with Antony was amazing, it portrayed Egyptian exoticness quite perfectly.

* I don’t quite agree with Enobarbus here:
And for his ordinary pays his heart, for what his eyes eat only.” I still believe Antony was really falling in love with Cleopatra, and not the other way round.

Scene III – Rome. Caesar’s House

* Right after his marriage with Octavia, Antony planned to return to Egypt. Partly because I think his heart remained there, and partly after he considered what the soothsayer told him about how he would have been destroyed whenever he was near Caesar.

* I believe that Parthian war would become Antony’s first expansion campaign to the East, which in the future will be the cause of his separation with Octavius (if I remember it quite well).

Scene IV – Rome. A Street

* Lepidus would take a different path to Messina. And though he was the weakest among the triumvirs, Lepidus was the one who depart earliest. I often pity him, crushed between Octavius and Antony, a good statesman with less ambition. Just like Brutus, you’re not supposed to plunge into politics at all, o poor Lepidus! 

Scene V – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

* I don’t know why Shakespeare made Cleopatra looked like a teenager who was madly in love. Even if her love to Antony was real —which I doubt—Cleopatra looked really ridiculous with how she did not know what she wanted to do (from listening to music, playing billiard, to fishing) and all other madness (seriously…playing billiard? Cleopatra??). Could you imagine the mighty queen of Egypt actually did that? What she did to the messenger from Rome who brought news about Antony’s marriage did show her ruthlessness, but the way she carried it on was rather comical than wicked.

Scene VI – Near Misenum

* This was where bargains were made, if it was accepted, war could be avoided. And I was surprised that Pompey accepted the treaty very quickly—even Menas criticized it—and then followed by four feast with each leader hosted his own feast. Was it only a strategy? Let’s see what happen next…

Scene VII – On Board Pompey’s Galley, Off Misenium

On the feast Lepidus was drunk, and the servants commented on him of being the weakest in the Triumvirs, and prophesied Lepidus’ future’s fall in the hand of the two others. And they were so true by saying: “To be call’d into a huge sphere, and not to be seen to move in’t, are the holes where eyes should be, which pitifully disaster the cheeks

* I don’t like how Caesar and Antony talked about Lepidus:
Caesar : (aside to Antony) Will this description satisfy him?
Antony: (aside to Caesar) With the health that Pompey gives him, else he is a very epicure.
But then, I believe they have taken advantage from poor Lepidus from the beginning. Both Caesar and Antony were ambitious guys who—despite of agreeing on building a Triumvirate—always wanted to be the sole leader of Rome.

* Menas suggested Pompey to kill the Triumvirs while they were feasting on their boat, but Pompey declined the idea as dishonorable—although he added if Menas have done it without Pompey knowing it, he would have agreed to it. Can you call it honorable?... :|

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Classics Challenge November Prompt

As we are approaching the end of 2012, November’s prompt for A Classics Challenge is asking us to summarize our classics reading during this year. I’m going to answer all of them…

Of all the Classics you've read this year is there an author or movement that has become your new favorite?

It’s Shakespeare! As a non-English speaker, and not having learned about any classics literature in school, my experience with the Bard was practically zero, until this year. Months ago I have decided to try Shakespeare’s comedy: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, however without any success. I almost got lost about what’s going on or what’s so funny about it, being a comedy. But then I realized that maybe I have read it in a wrong way. That’s why I gave Shakespeare a second chance by hosting Let’s Read Plays reading event, where most of the themes are dedicated to the Bard. This time I’m going to read Shakespeare’s works as they should be praised. And it works! I have just finished Julius Caesar, which I loved dearly—or maybe it’s because I’m an ancient Rome history’s fan? Anyway..I think this was only the beginning, I am now reading Antony and Cleopatra, and I’m more and more falling in love with Shakespeare’s smart and witty writing.

Which book did you enjoy the most?

This is always the toughest question in every meme, but if I have to choose only one book, it’s Emile Zola’s Germinal. This books is perfect in many categories of my favorite books; the story was intense and emotional, it has a hope at the ending (not a depressing hopeless ones as most of Zola’s), and I love how Zola wrote it.

Or were baffled by?

Notes From Underground (Dostoyevsky). I’m almost totally lost of what the narrator (the underground man) was complaining. When it seems I begin to vaguely get to it, the man would babble about something else, and I’m lost again. I’m around 20% of it now, and pessimistic I can ever finish it… :(

Who's the best character?

Etienne Lantier from Germinal. I have featured him in one of my Character Thursdays

The most exasperating (character)?

Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. Haha…you’ve probably known about this already. This is the only main character I couldn’t find any positive personality from all books I’ve ever read.

From reading other participants' posts which book do you plan to read and are most intrigued by?

There are a lot of them, but from several suggestions in my Classics Club November meme (most intimidating classics), I’m most intrigued to read Dante’s The Divine Comedy. I can’t wait to read it next year for Listra’s Narrative Poem Reading Challenge!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Brutus in Julius Caesar

Marcus Junius Brutus was one of the senators who conspired against the dictator of Rome, Julius Caesar. Brutus was a noble and honest man. Unlike others in the conspirator group, Brutus’ main aim in the conspiracy was to bring freedom to Rome, instead of his own greediness. This was admitted by Caesar’s friend, Mark Antony:

This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.”

When he was first approached by Cassius to become the conspirators’ chief, he did not agree at once, but he took time to reflect it. He did not seek fame, and he was far from ambitious.
Brutus had rather be a villager,
Than to repute himself a son of Rome

If he finally agreed to lead the conspiracy, it was for Romans sake, because he felt Caesar had become more ambitious, and this would endanger Rome. Brutus was one of the straight men in Rome—Cicero was the other I have in mind—who really cared about his country’s moral corruption. I don’t think a noble man like Brutus would think about killing others, but he did stabbed Caesar because he thought it ought to be done for Rome. Moreover, Brutus condemned a senator called Lucius Pella for bribery, although Cassius—his friend—defended him. Brutus was not reluctant either to warn Cassius of his greediness.

Brutus was an affectionate husband, and unlike most of Romans at that time, he respected his wife, Portia. He treated her as an equal companion. He shared many things with his wife and had not any objection when Portia suggested things to him; he valued her opinions. Brutus valued a true friendship too. He was sad and disappointed when he was told that Cassius did not welcome Brutus’ man with warm affection as usual.

When love begins to sicken and decay
It useth an envorced ceremony.
There are no tricks in plain and simple faith;
But hollow men, like horse hot at hand,
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle;
But when they should endure the bloody spur,
They fall their crests and like deceitful jades
Sink in the trial.”

Ercole di Roberti, c. 1490

If Brutus had a weakness, it was that he was too straight and naïve that he did not realized Cassius’ taking advantage of him. When Brutus was weighing whether he should kill Caesar or not, Cassius’ false letters came, and I believe those letters helped Brutus to make decision. Brutus was born as a noble man, but he should have never involved in politics!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

If It Be Love Indeed, Tell Me How Much: Antony and Cleopatra - Act I

Scene I – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

Demetrius and Philo—two of Mark Antony’s friends—opened this play by remarking how Mark Antony has completely changed from a great general of Rome to be the love slave of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. Mark Antony, who was poised by his love to Cleopatra, even dared to reject a messenger from Rome—whom Cleopatra took as a beckoning from either Fulvia (Antony’s wife) or Octavius the Caesar. All the same, Antony rejected to hear the message, which astonished Demetrius and Philo who thought that as a sign of Antony’s disrespect towards Caesar.


* Well, after listening to Mark Antony’s great speech at Julius Caesar’s funeral, now I must admit that Antony has never lost his skill when he was falling in love. Look at his smart replies when Cleopatra asked him to measure his love.
Cleopatra: “If it be love indeed, tell me how much.
Antony:     “There’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned.”
Cleopatra: “I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved.”
Antony:     “Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.”

He’s still that clever man with the skill of pouring the right words in the right situation, eh?

* I think it’s Mark Antony who was crazy in love with Cleopatra, while Cleopatra was just using Antony.
Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her?
I’ll seem the fool I am not. Antony
Will be himself.”

Scene II – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

This was a funny dialog between Cleopatra’s servants, who were listening to prophecies from a soothsayer. The soothsayer prophesied that a husband would be cheated by his wife, but when Charmian asked the soothsayer to tell about her fortune, came these witty dialog:

Soothsayer: “You shall be yet far fairer than you are.”
Charmian:    (to the others) “He means in flesh.”
Iras:             “No, you shall paint when you are old.”
Charmian:    “Wrinkles forbid!

Antony finally listened to the messengers (three of them) anyway, who sent bad messages about a Labienus had conquered Asia, and the worst one was the news of Fulvia’s death. Antony realized that he had wasting his time in his lust towards Cleopatra while everything has gone worse. He then decided to leave for Rome. Moreover, Pompey’s son Sextus Pompeius had received more attention from citizens, and Antony knew that they must handle it before Sextus gain more power.


* Funnier pieces in this scene:
Good now, some excellent fortune!
Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon and widow them all.
Let me have a child at fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage.”

A witty-smart piece from the Bard! :) But was ‘Herod of Jewry’ here represented the event of King Herod ordering slaughter of infants in Betlehem to kill the prophesied child who would become the King of Israel? But then, Jesus Christ was born on Tiberius’ reign who was Octavius’ successor; and thus Charmian would not have known about it at that time, right? Oh, whatever it was, that was still funny :)

* Another witty piece of dialog was the one between Enobarbus and Antony. Enobarbus suggested that Antony should be thankful to the god that Fulvia was dead so that he could replace her with Cleopatra. The way Enobarbus using metaphor of cloth was really funny, not to mention what he said about shedding tears!

“Your old smock brings forth a new petticoat;
and indeed the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.

Well, that was very funny! :))

Scene III – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

Cleopatra, who was afraid that Antony would leave him, used old trick of ‘just-go-if-you-don’t-love-me-anymore’ as suggested by Charmian to make Antony stay. Antony determined to leave Egypt, and Cleopatra determined to make Antony stay. At the end, Antony had a better idea, why wouldn’t both of them—for their loves were inseparable—go together to Rome?


* This is an interesting ‘battle’ between Antony and Cleopatra, and the winner was… Cleopatra! :) Thanks to Charmian’s advice, Cleopatra played her part very well; she let Antony thought that she did not want to dissuade his leaving, but she was tortured by the thought that Antony would soon forget her. Antony grew impatient at first, but he soon melted on Cleopatra’s ‘heroic sacrifice’, that he ended this act beautifully:

Our separation so abides and flies
That thou, residing here, goes yet with me,
And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee.”

The stage performance of Scene I and II, Timothy Dalton played as Mark Antony

Scene IV – Rome. Caesar’s House

Octavius was furious at Antony’s lustful business at Egypt and his indifference of his tasks in Rome, while Lepidus was more mildly forgave Antony. In the meantime people started to gather around Sextus Pompeius.

Octavius described people’s behavior so well:
That he which is was wished until he were,
And the ebb’d man, ne’er lov’d till ne’er worth love,
Comes dear’d by being lack’d. This common body,
Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream,
Goes to and back, lackeying the varying tide
To rot itself with motion.”

But then, it represented all politicians and senators in Rome, right? Won’t you act the same had you weren’t the present Caesar, Octavius?

Two famous pirates, Menecrates and Menas, who were approaching Rome just added the Triumvirs’ headaches; they were preparing for a war.

Scene V – Alexandria. Cleopatra’s Palace

I just knew from this play that Cleopatra was also Pompey’s son's lover! (besides Julius Caesar and Mark Antony). Was that really historical?

When Cleopatra said:
By Isis, I will give thee bloody teeth
If thou with Caesar paragon again
My man of men.”

I just wonder whom she regarded as “my man of men”. Of course, it supposed to be Antony, for this play was about him and Cleopatra, but I’m just curious, which one of her two lovers whom she really loved the most. Or both of them were merely her political tools?