The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
Contrasting Regions Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
Our lamp is spent, it's out! Good sirs, take heart.
We'll bury him; and then, what's brave, what's noble,
Let's do it after the high Roman fashion,
And make death proud to take us. (4.15.88)
Cleopatra thinks of the nobility of a Roman burial (which is a big deal, because she’s really serious about being Egyptian), but she also alludes to the fact that she’ll kill herself. Interestingly, she describes her suicide as a Roman death, characterized by honor, nobility, and sacrifice. It’s important that this is contrary to the relaxed Egyptian view: there’s a kernel of evidence here that Antony’s Roman-ness might have affected Cleopatra, where all other evidence seems to indicate that Antony was only being changed by Egypt. This is especially cool if you think about it as the basis for an argument that Antony is a true representative of Rome. It makes sense that Egypt should impact Antony, because he lives there, but if Antony is able to spread Roman values, even when he’s out of Rome and surrounded by Egyptians, then his Roman values are strong indeed.
Shall they hoist me up,
And show me to the shouting varletry
Of censuring Rome? Rather a ditch in Egypt
Be gentle grave unto me! Rather on Nilus' mud
Lay me stark-nak'd, and let the water-flies
Blow me into abhorring! Rather make
My country's high pyramides my gibbet,
And hang me up in chains! (5.2.55)
Cleopatra is loyal to Egypt until the end. It isn’t just her temperament, but her heart that’s Egyptian. She would rather die an ignoble death in Egypt than suffer through a victory parade for Rome that would signify Egypt’s submission to that empire.