He was astonished by what he saw, and seized the opportunity to indulge himself "in the amusements and diversions of a young man with all his future before him". (Plutarch 28) The two were clearly fond of each other as Antony “allowed…
(Plutarch 28) This account is based on what was told to Plutarch’s own grandfather, which no doubt shaped Plutarch’s own view of Cleopatra. That Plutarch was not as impressed as Antony is obvious from his use of words like “squandered” and “incredible extravagance.” (Plutarch 28)
Cleopatra’s fame, at least in the Western intellectual tradition, owes to a great extent her encounter with the Romans, and in particular Mark Antony amongst other leaders. This also means that the Roman perspective on Cleopatra and Egypt is shaped as much by these interactions, dealings and visits than other aspects of her rule and kingdom. This fame, however, was coloured by the Romans’ view of her as someone who led great men like Antony astray. She successfully captivated the attention of Antony as with Caesar earlier, but in Rome, for all her hospitality, she became “the victim of a vicious propaganda campaign” (§1.3). At the heart of this unfortunate circumstance for Cleopatra was Octavian’s envy for and conflict with Antony. Thus, there are two opposing perspectives on Cleopatra. One is the affectionate perspective as indulged in by Antony, and the other is the negative picture portrayed by Octavian and much of the rest of Rome. In the end, the defeat of the former at the decisive battle of Actium allowed history to be largely swayed by viewing Egypt as an enemy of Rome, and Cleopatra as a seductress, enemy and loser. This negative characterisation of Cleopatra and Egypt were present in Octavian’s speech delivered before the battle. He gave the impression to his army that Egypt’s way of life was decadent, and that Antony had been “enslaved by [Cleopatra]”. (Cocceianus 54)
Although Cleopatra’s effect Antony caused a deep impression and led him to develop close attachment, the wider and more lasting Roman view as promoted by Octavian and Plutarch, was one of ...
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