|Published online: May 7, 2014||Free Download|
This paper reads “Antony and Cleopatra” against the tension between a militarist past and a pacifist Stuart culture, as delineated by Steven Marx. In the early acts of “Antony and Cleopatra,” Rome evaluates both Antony and Cleopatra from the militarist perspective, which sees peace as idleness and a destroyer of military virtue. But this view is problematized in the play by linking Cleopatra’s eroticism not only with seduction but also with harmony and fruitfulness, and by associating militarist success not with virtue but with an opportunism that separates military virtue from physical as well as moral superiority. The second half of the play redefines the limits and measure of peace and of military virtue through the trials and affections of Antony and Cleopatra. It revalues what has been apparently only an idle, erotic attraction by forging it into a faithful relationship that is equally the source and reward of military virtue. Concomitantly, it revalues military virtue by grounding it in the preservation of domestic and communal spirit.
|Keywords:||English Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra", Love and War|
Professor of English, Arts and Humanities Division, Babson College, Babson Park, MA, USA