Thursday, May 19, 2011

"I am Dying Egypt"

"I am dying, Egypt, dying."

Antony and Cleopatra (IV, xv, 41)

Mark Antony speaks these words to Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, as he lies dying in her arms in this historic-tragedy that sweeps across the world from Rome to the East. Antony has fought against his own Rome on the side of Egypt, and has lost, following Cleopatra into retreat. Cleopatra has learned that Antony believes she has betrayed him and intends to kill her, and so she sends false word to him that she has taken her own life. Antony is grief-stricken and asks his knave, Eros, to kill him. Eros chooses to kill himself instead, and so Antony falls upon his own sword. He does not die immediately, however, and is brought to Cleopatra's monument where he utters these words, and dies in her arms. Antony's failure to die immediately from his own sword, in good Roman style, reflects the mark of the East upon him; and yet his beauty of character is viewed clearly in this uncomfortable death-scene. He is finally able to combine the Roman and the Eastern halves of his nature, with which he struggled throughout the course of the play.

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