Re-Imagining Cleopatra Essay

Through writers such as Boccaccio, Dryden, al-Mas’udi we see their version of Cleopatra, they each have different way of portraying her, giving their view of the situation during that time. Each of these writes provide a distinct version of Cleopatra, to this day people do not have a clear view on who she really is. Cleopatra remains a mystery; can anyone confirm for certain that the persona these writers portray her as is in fact who she truly is? It’s hard to say since each of them has a dissimilar view on her.

Some of which are not in favor of the queen, some being partial, and others who hold her in high esteem. In addition to the writers that have a diverse version of her, we have what is seen through movies and TV mini-series facilitates another account on who Cleopatra may have been. The film Cleopatra staring Elizabeth Taylor gives us a lavished portrayal of the queen, while episodes of HBO’s Rome give us a more “down and dirty” depiction of her. Both of these representations are very much in their own right depending on how you may want to envision this ruler.

Popular culture can only give us their version of what they have imagined went on during that epoch; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all correct in each of their interpretations. However it does allow for acceptance on the various ways one can reiterate on who the real person Cleopatra may have been. Boccaccio portrays Cleopatra in an ill manner; his view on her is not at all in her favor from the passage On famous Women Boccaccio states that, “Cleopatra was Egyptian woman, known the world over.

Although she came to power through a long line of kings going back to Ptolemy the Macedonian, son of Lagus, and she was the daughter of Ptolemy Dionysius or, as some to say, of King Mineus, nevertheless, she gained her kingdom through crime. She was truly notable for almost nothing, except her ancestry and her beauty; rather, she was known throughout the world for her greed, cruelty, and excess. ” Boccaccio from this passage to really believe that the Queen was not virtuous my any means.

He seems to too what to put a stop to anyone who may ever want to believe otherwise. To Boccaccio she was not a good person let alone ruler. Dryden had a more partial view on Cleopatra and her story; he had an objective standpoint and is often compared to writers such as Shakespeare. We can see that his view was more with human nature and it’s fallacies that timelessly occur whether you are a king/queen or just a simple peasant.

Dryden is confirming that we are all subject to mistakes and just because you may be a person of royalty or political influence does not mean you stand apart. Dryden confirms in this quote, “I have observ’d in Cleopatra. That which is wanting to work up the pity to a greater heighth, was not afforded me by the story; for the crimes of love which they both committed, were not occasion’d by any necessity, or fatal ignorance but were wholly voluntary; since our passions are, or ought to be, within our power.

This quote does in addition gives an answer to the question of whether the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra was real or not, here Dryden is implying that it was not out of political advantages that it would allow such a relationship to withstand for such a long time, but however out of true passion and connection to each other, to that in which almost everyone could understand. Nevertheless al-Mas’udi version of Cleopatra in Prairies of Gold portrays her as a noble, wise, and intelligent woman that should be honored and never should be dismayed.

He describes the queen in this quote with great respect. “Ptolemy was succeeded by his daughter, Cleopatra. Her reign lasted twenty-two years. She was wise, tired her hand at philosophy and was a close companion to wise men. She has works, both bearing her name and ascribed to her, of medicine, magic, and science, known by those versed in medicine. This queen was the last of the Greek kings, so that [with her death] their reign ended ,their era was forgotten, the vestiges of their civilization were obliterated, and their sciences, except for what remained in the hands of their wise men, disappeared.

His version allows us to take a beautiful perspective of the queen, giving us light to what to may have been a very dismantling time period for the masses. People during this era were in survival mode, she was not unsusceptible to this. Al- Mas’udi gave her justice and credit to the person he thoroughly believed she was. From the film “Cleopatra” staring Elizabeth Taylor we can see a more glitzy glamour lifestyle of Cleopatra and Egypt. The movie was made in 1963 and was one of the first major epoch films that cost millions of dollars and took many years to make.

The movie is reflection of a time when Hollywood was trying to get the ball rolling so to speak with films that are mass produced and could be made a lot of money from. From certain lavished scenes we are able to see this, one scene in particular when Cleopatra makes her grand entrance into Rome with her son that was conceived with Cesar. The scene was almost like a circus and portrays her as a person of great wealth, decadence, and showmanship. The series of HBO’S Rome takes a different view of Cleopatra and that that time period.

The series in a whole is made from the stand point of the poor, and shows a very vulgar and wild side of that age in time. It shows how in that time it was about survival and doing the best you could with the card that you were dealt, in that life there was no such thing as fairness, you did what you had to do. There was lots of sex, love, deceit, power struggle, back-stabbing, cruelty, anger, greed, and passion all the attributes that ruled that world, the lower more animal part of the self. The scene where Cleopatra and Antony had their first meeting in Rome explains very much what kind of “dog eat dog” lifestyle it was during that time.

Cleopatra still not happy that her son is not considered a roman asks to Antony to help her with issue. He of course was not would not budge and propositioned Cleopatra for sex. However Cleopatra was very cunning and said first you give me what I want and then u have your way with me. Very smart on her part since really that is the only way she would have probably gotten her way. She then makes a remark stating that if she needs to sell herself like a prostitute for the good of her country she will of course need compensation first and foremost.

The series shows a reflection of how this era that we are leaving in now lives for drama. Not so much the Hollywood fai??ade life, but more of reality based view on how the world was really like during that time. Since sometimes it could be hard to imagine what life really was like back was then. Series like HBO’s Rome allows for our society to get a better grasp of this. All the different portrayals and viewpoints of the iconic Cleopatra gives us the sense that this queen was an enigma in her very own right.

She has so many variations of styles that our popular culture has envisioned of her, from the writings of Boccaccio, Dryden, and al-Mas’udi to the on screen performances of Liz Taylor in “Cleopatra” to HBO series Rome each giving their own vision based even on the time period they were living in. All of these depictions so different yet gives us a piece of the puzzle of how we may be able to conjure up who Cleopatra actually was. To this day Cleopatra remains a person of our sought imagination, in addiction someone who has been an icon everlastingly and will always be remembered throughout our history.