Antony and Cleopatra from what has been written through historians had a rather odd relationship. It is questioned whether their relationship was out of pure circumstantial political reasons or out of real love. It may have very well started out to be just an alliance and turned into love through such long periods of time being with each other. Either way they did end up having a long tumultuous relationship that ended in tragedy and most likely considering everything they went through would question if it was love or lust that made and sustained their relationship. Or simply have been lust that turned into love?
It does seem like a primitive thing to say, but from these historians passages we may decipher that it was more of a question of it being true love or true lust. Through the writing of Plutarch and Appain we will see how they point that the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra was almost like a gag to them. Although a serious alliance at that same time affecting many counties, it was still almost never taken seriously, something the people believed that would pass in due time or in hopes would just end considering that the Romans were not at in favor of this alliance.
In the text by Plutarch, Life of Antony and the text Civil War by Appain we will see how these historians demonstrate the relationship between Cleopatra and Antony to be to a certain extent bizarre. Plutarch passage shows the first time Antony and Cleopatra spent a great deal of time together during the winter of 41-40 BC. He describes that during the time when they were aimlessly having fun while Fluvia was stuck back at home in Rome trying to keep Antony endeavors alive.
Plutarch states, “Cleopatra captured Anthony to such an extent that, while his wife Fluvia was fighting with Octavian in Rome to support her husband’s interests and in Mesopotamia … Antony had disappeared spirited away by Cleopatra to Alexandria, where he enjoyed the games and pastimes of a child at play and spent and squandered what Antiphon called the most precious treasure of all, his time. ” We can see here that Plutarch evidently feels that Antony really should not have been squandering around with Cleopatra when there was business to take care of at bay.
It is evident as well that Plutarch did not like the fact Cleopatra had such control over Antony and how easy it was for Antony to be so controlled. Here we see that Cleopatra knew exactly what she was doing when she was with Antony. She knew very well how to entertain, love, cry, and dominate this man. It’s almost as if she had a book of instructions on how to manipulate people, Plutarth describes: Cleopatra had a command of flattery in many forms, not only the four Plato mentions, and she was always able to entertain Antony, whether he was serious or playful, by inventing some new amusement and never leaving him alone day or night. Indeed, she played dice with him, drank with him, hunted with him, and watched him as he trained with weapons. At night, she accompanied him as he stationed himself outside doors and windows to mock the people inside.
On these excursions, she would wear a maid’s outfit, taking her cue from Antony fondness for dressing up as a slave. This quote gives a clear vision on how Plutarch feels about Antony and Cleopatra escapades; he does not seem to be in favor of how Antony was floundering around in the city of Alexandria having a good time while the city of Rome was in shambles and in need of his presence. We get the sense that Plutarch saw it as unfair and selfish.
Also we can see from this quote the extent on how he believes Cleopatra to be quite a leader concerning the relationship she knew exactly which buttons to press when it came to Antony, she read him like an “open book. It could all very well be that it was in Antony nature to be governed by a woman even before he met Cleopatra. In a passage by Plutarch he writes about Fluvia, Antony first wife. He says that Fluvia was the type of woman who was interested in political affairs and not minimal things like housework or cooking but more entertained by the fact that her husband was a dictator. Plutarch mentions that it was Fluvia who got Antony so “trained” and that if it wasn’t for her it probably wouldn’t have been so easy for Cleopatra to dominate him.
Plutarch states “Cleopatra should have paid Fluvia tuition for schooling Antony to obey a women, so docile and trained to obey a woman’s commands was he when she took him on. ” This quote tells us many things about what Plutarch really thinks of Antony and his relationships, we can see here that he has a bit of distain on how Antony is so easy influenced by woman and believes that these women were (Appain) more on a ego trip than a real feeling of love and interest for his wellbeing.
Another historian who demonstrates how Anthony and Cleopatra’s relationship derived from more superficial reasons is Appain. He states in his passage from Civil War that their first official meeting may have been purely just of lust on Antony side and opportunity on Cleopatra’s side. Appain states, “Antony, struck by her intelligence as well as her appearance, was captivated by her as if he were a young lad, although he was forty years old.
He is said to have always been very susceptible to these things and to have fallen in love with her at first sight long before, when she was still a child and he, as a young man, went to Alexandria as a cavalry commander under the general Gabinius. ” Appain then goes on to remark that Antony was then very influenced by Cleopatra and her ambitions, like Plutarch he announces that Anthony lost his “manhood” and his sense of dictatorship once he began his relationship with Cleopatra began. The acute interest Antony had once shown in all things suddenly dulled; whatever Cleopatra dictated was done, without regard for the laws of man or nature. ” Appian in this quote is suggesting like Plutarch that Antony was very easily controlled by women who had a calculating personality, hence leaving Antony dumbstruck in his dealings that should have been taken care of. Both Plutarch and Appain from what is depicted in these passages can be said that both of these historians were not pleased about the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra.
It does seem that both of these historians were biased on the account that their opinions have been very much influenced by the Romans and the surrounding cities and countries that were not in agreement with Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship/ alliance. It can be said that these historians may be accurate in their passages/text having first hand sources to testify their statements and opinions; however they still could be subject to other people’s opinions/feelings that perhaps could have an effect on their own writings and their descriptions of a historical figure.
To base your thinking solely on the opinions of others whether they be historians or not does not solidify the true depiction of the historical figure. Historians like the mass are outsiders in the event of person’s relationship; they do not know what happens behind closed doors. Therefore may have simply been influenced of what others had to say about the situation. From what is seen through these passages of Plutarch and Appain, one can see that they considered the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra to me almost like a joke.
They did not like the fact that a woman had so much control over a man, they found it almost unfathomable. Their rejection of the relationship may have simply just have been stemmed by sexism and nothing else. To them their “love” was derived from material reasons, therefore being a circumstance of lust. However considering all that does happen at the end, with both of their suicides it could have very well been lust that turned into love.