Antony And Cleopatra New Critical Essays By Sara Munson Deats

Sara Munson Deats
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Antony and Cleopatra: New Critical Essays
bySara Munson Deats, Deats Munson Deats
3.33 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2004 — 4 editions
Sex, Gender, and Desire in the Plays of Christopher Marlowe
bySara Munson Deats
3.33 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 1998
Doctor Faustus: A critical guide
bySara Munson Deats(Editor)
4.50 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2010 — 2 editions
Christopher Marlowe at 450
bySara Munson Deats, Robert A. Logan
it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating — 6 editions
The Aching Hearth
bySara Munson Deats(Editor)
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 1991
Placing the Plays of Christopher Marlowe
bySara Munson Deats, Robert A. Logan
it was ok 2.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 2013
Placing the Plays of Christopher Marlowe: Fresh Cultural Contexts: 0
bySara Munson Deats, Robert A. Logan(Editor)
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Doctor Faustus: A Critical Guide
bySara Munson Deats(Editor)
0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2009 — 2 editions
Marlowe's Empery: Expanding His Critical Contexts
bySara Munson Deats
0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2002
Aging and Identity: A Humanities Perspective
bySara Munson Deats(Editor)
0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 1999
Gender and Academe: Feminist Pedagogy and Politics
bySara Munson Deats, Lagretta T. Lenker(Editor), John Clifford(Contribution by), Evelyn Ashton-Jones(Contribution by)
0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 1994 — 2 editions
Antony and Cleopatra: New Critical Essays
bySara Munson Deats(Editor)
0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2004
Placing the Plays of Christopher Marlowe: Fresh Cultural Contexts
bySara Munson Deats(Contributor)
0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2008 — 7 editions

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Critics agree on Antony and Cleopatra’s debt to Ovidian myth, whether in terms of the specific stories from the Metamorphoses that the play appropriates (MacKenzie) or in the general sense of its allusive, symbolic style, in which every gesture and public presentation of the play’s namesakes seems to be aimed at generating personal legend (Barroll, Dean). While specific myths are indeed important to the play, and important to what I will have to say here about Antony’s bodily faculties, my discussion will focus instead on how the play crosses myth with its historical sources to produce our understanding of his body as both fallibly human, and as aspiring toward the divine. Antony and Cleopatra is both deeply engaged with myths of transformation, and deeply committed to its Plutarchan narrative source. In the play, each of these two apparently distinct bodies of knowledge work to inform the other.

As in his misidentification of the new owner of Achilles’ sevenfold shield, Antony’s recourse to the Metamorphoses is strikingly idiosyncratic and partial. He, and his play, are not most truly Ovidian in that they merely invoke certain stories, but rather in that they take up and enlarge upon the models those stories provide of exchange, reinterpretation, and transformation—just as Ovid wrote against the certainties of Virgilian epic. Antony and Cleopatra’s use of Ovid pursues the Metamorphoses’ interest in “unlawful” loves and “shapes transformede to bodies straunge” (1.1), articulating Antony’s erotic and emotional crises through metaphoric—as well as metamorphic—readings of his own. It is left to Cleopatra to put an end to this textual vacillation, as she declares her intention to stabilize meaning in a set of terms which will be clearly legible to Roman understandings. She will be “marble-constant” (5.2.236), rejecting the narrative volatility and invention which have been her lover’s hallmark. Our last view of Antony is of his wounded body being drawn up to Cleopatra’s monument, where he dies in her arms. It remains for her to dress herself as a queen and a goddess and thus to second him in the project of performing the existence of that mysterious “greater thing” that would make him whole and glorious—only this time, in terms adapted to a resolutely un-metamorphic Roman understanding.


1 The literature on the relation between Ovid and Virgil is large. Discussions of ways in which Ovid’s poetry transmutes Virgilian and Augustan values that I have found particularly useful for my purposes here include Curran; Desmond; Hardie; Hinds; James, Shakespeare’s Troy; and Tissol.

2 All references to the play are to The Norton Shakespeare, 2nd ed., and are cited parenthetically in the text.

3 See the astute discussion in James, Shakespeare’s Troy 129-33.

4 On this reading, see Hurworth.

5 Here, one might usefully recall Plutarch’s assertion in “Of Isis and Osiris” that Osiris “travelled throwout the world, reducing the whole earth to civility, by force of armes least of all, but winning and gaining the most nations by effectual remonstrances and sweet perswasion couched in songs” (1292).

6 On Augustan Rome’s deep investment in notions of the male body as impermeable and rigid, see Alston and Walters.

7 See Rimell, esp. 6-40. Rimell advances the significance of Ovid’s Medusa, who escapes men’s attempts at possession and control, as an alternative to critical focus on the myth of Narcissus, which has come to serve as a chief exemplar of a kind of western philosophical discourse “which creates man’s desired object as the reassuring negative of his own reflection” (5).

8 One might contrast this invocation of surrender and sexual healing with Octavius’ memories of Antony’s former hardihood, when he “didst drink / The stale of horses, and the gilded puddle / Which beasts would cough at” (1.4.61), when he “browsed … [t]he barks of trees” and “didst eat strange flesh” (1.4.66-67) and bore all this solitary deprivation “so like a soldier” (1.4.70) that he even seemed to thrive on it.

9 On the affinities between Shakespeare’s Antony and Hercules, see Bate 205-11, Bono 154-63, Jones-Davies, and Shulman.

10Heroides 9 contains Deianira’s diatribe against Hercules’ having endured the shame of having been captured and dressed as a woman by the disorderly Lydian queen Omphale: “Had Busiris seen you in that garb, he whom you had vanquished would surely have reddened for such a victor as you. Antaerus would tear from the hard neck the turban bands, lest he feel shame at having succumbed to an unmanly foe” (113).

Works Cited

  • Barchiesi, Alessandro. The Poet and the Prince: Ovid and Augustan Discourse. Berkeley: U of California P, 1997. Print.

  • Barkan, Leonard. The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism. New Haven: Yale UP, 1986. Print.
  • Barroll, J. Leeds. “The Allusive Tissue of Antony and Cleopatra.” Antony and Cleopatra: New Critical Essays. Ed. Sara Munson Deats. New York: Routledge, 2005. 275-90. Print.
  • Barton. Carlin. “Being in the Eyes: Shame and Sight in Ancient Rome.” The Roman Gaze: Vision, Power, and the Body. Ed. David Fredrick. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002. 216-35. Print.
  • Bate, Jonathan. Shakespeare and Ovid. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. Print.
  • Curran, L. C. “Metamorphosis and Anti-Augustanism.” Arethusa 5 (1978): 71-91. Print.
  • Dean, Paul. “Antony and Cleopatra: An Ovidian Tragedy?” Cahiers Élisabéthains 40 (1991): 73-77. Print.
  • Desmond, Marilyn. “When Dido Reads Virgil: Gender and Intertextuality in Ovid’s Heroides 7.” Helios 20 (1993): 56-68. Print.
  • Enterline, Lynn. The Rhetoric of the Body From Ovid to Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.
  • Fuller, Mary. “Forgetting the Aeneid.” ALH 4.3 (1992): 517-38. Print.
  • Hardie, Philip. “Ovid’s Theban History: The First Anti-Aeneid?” Classical Quarterly 40 (1990): 224-35. Print.
  • Hinds, Stephen. “Arma in Ovid’s Fasti Part 2: Genre, Romulan Rome and Augustan Ideology.” Arethusa 25 (1992): 113-53. Print.
  • Hurworth, Angela. “‘Dido and her Aeneas’: Transfiguration in Antony and Cleopatra.” Lectures d’une Oeuvre de William Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. Christine Sukic. Paris: Éditions du Temps, 2000. 9-24. Print.
  • James, Heather. Shakespeare’s Troy: Drama, Politics, and the Translation of Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print.
  • ---. “Ovid and the Question of Politics in Early Modern England.” ELH 70 (2003): 343-73. Print.
  • Jones-Davies, Marie-Thérèse. “Shakespeare and the Myth of Hercules.” Reclamations of Shakespeare. Ed. A. J. Honselaars. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994. 57-74. Print.
  • MacKenzie, Clayton G. “Antony and Cleopatra:A Mythological Perspective.” Orbis Litterarum 45 (1990): 309-29. Print.
  • Newlands, Carole. Playing With Time: Ovid and the ‘Fasti’. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995. Print.
  • Ovid. Fasti. Trans. Sir James George Frazer. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1931. Print.
  • Ovid. Heroides and Amores. Trans. Grant Showerman. Rev. ed. G. P. Goold. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1977. Print.
  • Ovid. Metamorphosis. Trans. Arthur Golding. London, 1567. STC 18956. Print.
  • Ovid. Tristia and Ex Ponto. Trans. Arthur Leslie Wheeler. 2nd rev. ed. G. P. Goold. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1988. Print.
  • Plutarch. “The Life of Marcus Antonius.” The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. Trans. Thomas North. London, 1579. STC 20066. 970-1010. Print.
  • Plutarch. “Of Isis and Osiris.” The Philosophie, Commonly Called, the Morals. Trans. Philemon Holland. London, 1603. STC 20063. 1286-319. Print.
  • Rimell, Victoria. Ovid’s Lovers: Desire, Difference, and the Poetic Imagination. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. Print.
  • Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. Gen. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2008. Print.
  • Shulman, Jeff. “At the Crossroads of Myth: The Hermeneutics of Hercules From Shakespeare to Ovid.” ELH 50 (1983): 83-105. Print.
  • Stanivukovic, Goran. Introduction. Ovid and the Renaissance Body. Ed. Goran Stanivukovic. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2001. 3-18. Print.
  • Tissol, Garth. “Ovid’s Little Aeneid and the Thematic Integrity of the Metamorphoses.” Helios 20 (1993): 69-79. Print.
  • Traub, Valerie. Afterword. Ovid and the Renaissance Body. Ed. Goran Stanivukovic. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2001. 260-68. Print.
  • Virgil. Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid 1-6. Trans. H. R. Fairclough. Rev. G. P. Goold. Cambridge: Harvard UP 1999. Print.
  • Walcott, Derek. Interview by Edward Hirsch. “The Art of Poetry XXXVII: Derek Walcott.” The Paris Review 101 (1986): 196-230. Print.
  • Wofford, Susanne. “Antony’s Egyptian Bacchanals: Heroic and Divine Inspiration in Shakespeare’s Plutarch and Antony and Cleopatra.” Poetica (Tokyo): 48 (1997): 33-67. Print.

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