Monday, February 21, 2011


I think Cleopatra is a very fascinating woman and I wanted to do some more research on her to clarify after our discussion today in class. While serving as Egypt's pharaoh she became involved with Julius Caesar. She later had a son with Caesar named Caesarion. After Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she started up a relationship with Mark Antony in opposition with Augustus. Cleopatra and Mark Antony had twins, Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios and another son Ptolemy Philadelphus. After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, Mark Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra then killed herself on August 12, 30 BC. She was briefly outlived by her son Caesarion, who became pharaoh, but he was killed by Octavian's orders.


Julia said...

I also think Cleopatra is an intriguing figure of history and literature. Like we said in class, she is portrayed as an intensely jealous woman who kills herself out of love and desperation. Similarly, Dido commits suicide on the funeral pyre when Aeneas deserts her to continue her mission. I found online that Christopher Marlowe
wrote a play called "Dido, Queen of Carthage" which describes Dido’s frenzied desire for Aeneas, Aeneas's sudden departure from Carthage, and, finally, her suicide. The play is mainly based on Books 1, 2, and 4 of The Aeneid.

Steven said...

That's an interesting point to bring up, Julia. Marlowe is another one of the poets that Eliot admired, so I wouldn't be surprised to find specific allusions to that play that he did not footnote. The literary renditions of Cleopatra's life and Dido are incredibly alike. It's no wonder that Eliot included both in "The Waste Land."

Olivia Celata said...

Throughout The Waste Land, Eliot constantly presents juxtapositions between modern life and images of past nobility, in order to emphasize the barrenness of modern culture. An example of contrasting sets of characters is that of Mark Antony and Cleopatra vs. the house-agent's clerk and the typist in Section III. Like Julia mentioned, Cleopatra possibly killed herself out of love for Antony. This apparent love is directly juxtaposed with the sterile, unpassionate "love" of the Waste Land characters.

C-Sted said...

Interesting historical fact: Cleopatra frequently represented herself as a living incarnation of the Egyptian goddess Isis, who just happens to be the goddess of fertility (also, magic and maternity). It seems very likely that Eliot knew this and expected his reader to make the connection, though I suspect most people would need a footnote. Snobbery, indeed.

The Romans feared and hated Cleopatra. They believed that the foreign queen would try to take control of Rome through her child, Caesarion. Had Caesar not named his grandnephew Octavian his legal heir, Cleopatra's son would have inherited the entire Roman Republic. Cleopatra's children with Marc Antony could have made similar claims had he won the Battle of Actium. Rome was close to becoming a territory of Egypt, rather than the other way around.

Blaine said...

I also find Cleopatra quite the interesting character. After Caesar's assassination, joined Mark Antony in opposition to the legal heir Augustus. Interestingly, after Antony lost his battle against Augustus, he committed suicide. Afterwards, Cleopatra also killed herself by allowing a snake to bite her breast. In my opinion, Cleopatra's life represents a real life drama. I can totally understand why Shakespeare would write a play about Cleopatra and Antony's relationship; their lives were filled with passion and constant excitement.

Dawn said...

i think she was very well pretty but i think in real life she was ugly people in Egypt have those figures

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