A Comparison of Plutarch, Cassius Dio, and Horace's Portrayal of the Relationship Between Cleopatra And Antony

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Plutarch’s Portrayal

Plutarch’s portrayal of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra is different from that of other Roman writers because he portrayed their relationship as politically oriented other than that of love. In his work, Plutarch depicts Cleopatra as a manipulative woman who was in the relationship with Antony for political reasons (Pelling, & Plutarchus. 1988, p. 24). She kept Antony in constant tutelage and did not release him night or day. Antony was captivated by Cleopatra’s manipulative charm and intelligence and that is why he could not resist her and did all she asked. It is clear from the information that this is not an act of love. Cleopatra was using Antony only for with the key intention of saving her nation, a similar move with that she did with Caesar. Plutarch further portrays Antony as a desperate man who went to great lengths to impress Cleopatra (Plutarch, & Pelling, 1988, 57). During their fishing ordeal, he did not catch anything but wanted to impress her and thus used his servants.

Different Portrayal by Cassius Dio

This portrayal of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra is different from that of other Roman writers such as Cassius Dio and Horace. Cassius Dio portrays the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra as a means used by Cleopatra to stay close to powerful people. She did not love Antony as Cassius Dio depicts in his writings (Westbrook, 1947, p. 395). According to Antony, Cleopatra had a very charming voice, and more to that, she made herself beautiful when she was permitted by Caesar to meet. This was a seductive move that a woman in love with another man would not pull (Westbrook, 1947, p. 395). He characterized her as a charming but canning lady that used her beauty to overpower and ensnare leaders as powerful as Caesar.

Horace's Perspective

Horace also had a portrayal of the relationship between Cleopatra and Antony that was distinct to that of Plutarch and Cassius Dio yet at some point all of these writers depicted Cleopatra for what she was. They all portrayed her as a charming woman that went to great lengths to overpower influential people with the intention of protecting her beloved nation. According to Horace, Cleopatra was a beautiful and attractive lady that made every man fall for her. It is through these charms and beauty that Cleopatra managed to put Antony under her control and manipulated him to stay day and night indoors (Westbrook, 1947, p. 395). The portrayal of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra might be different, but all the three writers depicted the relationship and nature of Antony and Cleopatra in the same manner.



Pelling, C. B., & Plutarchus. 1988. Plutarch, Life of Antony. Cambridge u.a, Cambridge Univ. Pr.

Plutarch, & Pelling, C. B. R. 1988. Life of Antony. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Westbrook, D. Perry 1947. Horace's Influence on Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Vol. 62, No. 2,  PMLA, Modern Language Association, pp. 392-398 https://www.jstor.org/stable/459269

November 24, 2023




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