Plutarch’s View of the Effect of Cleopatra on Antony

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The story that Plutarch relates of Philotas’ tour of the palace kitchens, the abundant provisions and how meals were prepared, shows that both Cleopatra and Antony were prepared to serve lavish amounts of food at any time, and highlights the hospitality they gave each other. (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.&nbsp. 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 colored 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 characterization 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]”.&nbsp. &nbsp.&nbsp.

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