Last week, we looked at young love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This week, we’re looking at love and sex between a power couple. We’re talking about Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.
The story is about a powerful woman who is trying to hold onto her own, and she will do anything to achieve it. She was wealthy, educated and spoke several languages. She was devoted to her religion and her people. First married to her brother, she then becomes mistress to Julius Caesar and has a son with him.
Tragedy befalls Cleopatra when Caesar is killed. He was meant to insulate her power against Rome. She returns to Alexandria. Her brother dies, and she co-rules with her infant son.
Then someone comes into the picture that will change her for all time. Desperate to keep Egypt safe from Rome, she needed another man of power and prestige to protect her. When Marc Antony calls her to Tarsus, she arrives in all her seductive splendor on her royal barge. He was supposed to fight a battle there, but oh, well. What’s more fun? Fighting a battle or having sex with Cleopatra on her barge. There begins their tragic love story. Both are people of power who see more than love in the relationship.
Let’s look at the qualities of this romance.
1. They both need something from the other. Lust. Money. Power. Is love in the mix?
2. There is an excitement in loving someone who is forbidden, who should be an enemy.
3. They are tested whether they want love or power. Marc Antony is called back to Rome to marry Octavian’s sister Octavia. He does it for power and title. Cleopatra in Egypt gives birth to their twins, a boy and a girl.
4. Their love is blind. Even married, Antony goes ahead and marries Cleopatra knowing it will never be recognized in Rome.
5. Secrets, betrayals, war test the lovers. What happens if you cannot choose? Or you choose wrong and your friends become your enemies?
In my estimation, this is one of the toughest of plots. When you have two powerful lovers that both want something different, one of them or both are going to lose. I can’t see a happy ending when they can’t truly commit to each other.
What great love stories inspire you? How do lovers win at the end?
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
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