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The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra


by William Shakespeare

Analysis: Steaminess Rating

Exactly how steamy is this story?


Allusions to sex are far more prevalent in the play than sex itself. If anything, the most powerful suggestion of sex is the enduring relationship between Antony and Cleopatra. Whatever is going on, it’s got to be so good that the man is willing to leave two Roman wives and his country to come to the Egyptian Queen. Cleopatra references the sex the two have had, and even how they’ve done it, when she talks about taking him to bed at night—and in the morning again before nine. There’s even some allusion to sexual cross-dressing.

Sex is the central pivot of Cleopatra’s power over Antony, and it’s also a deep part of Cleopatra’s own personality. Antony even mentions that he’s very familiar with the intensity of her lust, but that he doesn’t know its full depths. Also, given that Cleopatra has gone to bed with three of the most powerful men in the world (Julius Caesar, Pompey the Elder, and Antony), she seems to definitely have a thing for guys at the top of their game. In the play, power is sexy, and sex is powerful.

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