Antony and Cleopatra

Michael Platt, Rome and Romans According to Shakespeare, 25877


In Pompey and throughout the play we see the fading of Roman virtue. It survives, but fitfully, in the intermittent courage of Antony; in his magnaminity it glows but ember-like; and in his sensuality it bows before a new god, both unRoman and uncivil, Eros. The manners and moral of the Empire appear on the Horizon of the East where Antony’s pleasure lies; in Egypt will reside the private life of the Romans. At the play’s end one man, Octavius, will command the streets and public places of Rome; he will sum up in himself all the public things, sharing honor and power (the old aims of the ambitious sons of the Republic) with no equal; he alone will be the Republic, the res publica, the public things. Under his rule and beneath the canopy of his peace, the private and erotic life of his subjects (no longer citizens) will come into its own.

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