Plutarch and the Relationship Between Cleopatra and Anthony
Plutarch was born in Greece and had a firm admiration for the political and cultural beliefs of Rome. Prejudice against women during this time is reflected in his literature alongside his firm alliance with the Romans.
Plutarch suggests that Cleopatra never gave Antony a moment??™s peace as she continuously kept him occupied by her need for his attention. He uses the word ???tutelage??™ meaning guided, as if Antony was being controlled by Cleopatra. The phrase, ???released him neither night nor day??™ suggests he is like a prisoner to her. The reference to playing games, hunting and drinking with Antony shows how she included herself in activities usually enjoyed by men. In contrast, Plutarch describes the games the couple played at the expense of the common people for their personal amusement. He explains how Antony ???reaped a harvest of abuse??™ which suggests he believes Antony deserved such punishment due to his taunting behaviour.
Plutarch writes an account of the day Antony goes fishing but is unsuccessful in his catch. Antony is angry that Cleopatra has witnessed this. Rather than look weak in front of her, he orders some fishermen into the water to attach fish to his line as if he has caught them. At this point in the story, Plutarch refers to Cleopatra as ???the Egyptian??™ as she has seen through the lie Antony has played. By calling her this he is suggesting that she has the typical reputation of a deceitful and cunning Egyptian. Some one that could not be tricked, as she is the untrustworthy one.
Cleopatra humiliates Antony by pretending she admires his fishing skills but the following day plays her own trick on him. Plutarch explains how she invited spectators to witness the trick. He uses the words ???great numbers of them??™ to describe the amount of people at the scene. This could be an exaggeration to make the reader believe Cleopatra went to great lengths to humiliate Antony. This would not only teach Antony a lesson but would also be Cleopatra??™s way of warning people that she will not be fooled and if challenged, will win.
Plutarch tells how Cleopatra referred to Antony as ???Imperator??™ in front of spectators. This would be her way of keeping his pride intact. She refers to him as being a great hunter politically, not as a mere fisherman. Plutarch may have written this to show her controlling behaviour.
By writing such accounts, Plutarch contributes to the negative image of Cleopatra. He would have despised the idea of a woman keeping a man as her prisoner and controlling his every move. He depicts Cleopatra as a cunning and manipulative character and as an Egyptian can not be trusted. They are purely the alliteration of a biased man who wishes to keep the reputation of Rome intact. Plutarch provides the reader with a sense that Anthony is happy to be in Cleopatra??™s control and that as a man he has lost all sense of what being a great Roman leader is.