Text

 

Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero
pulsanda tellus, nunc Saliaribus
     ornare pulvinar deorum
     tempus erat dapibus, sodales.

Antehac nefas depromere Caecubum
cellis avitis, dum Capitolio
     regina dementis ruinas
     funus et imperio parabat

contaminato cum grege turpium
morbo virorum, quidlibet impotens
     sperare fortunaque dulci
     ebria. Sed minuit furorem

vix una sospes navis ab ignibus,
mentemque lymphatam Mareotico
     redegit in veros timores
     Caesar, ab Italia volantem

remis adurgens, accipiter velut
mollis columbas aut leporem citus
     venator in campis nivalis
     Haemoniae, daret ut catenis

fatale monstrum. Quae generosius
perire quaerens nec muliebriter
     expavit ensem nec latentis
     classe cita reparavit oras,

ausa et iacentem visere regiam
voltu sereno, fortis et asperas
     tractare serpentes, ut atrum
     corpore conbiberet venenum,

deliberata morte ferocior:
saevis Liburnis scilicet invidens
     privata deduci superbo,
     non humilis mulier, triumpho.

 

Key Questions

 

  1. How is Cleopatra portrayed through to line 21?
  2. Discuss the significance of the simile in lines 17-20. How is it relevant?
  3. Does the portrayal of Cleopatra change during the course of the poem?
  4. What images run through this poem? What are their significance?
  5. Is this poem a celebration of the victory at Actium?
  6. Who is the real star of this poem?
Background, Commentaries and Secondary Reading

 

Other Ancient Texts

 

Websites

 

 

Film

 

  • Cleopatra (1963) 243 min. (director’s cut, 320 min.). The classic Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton production.
  • Carry on Cleo (1964). Dated comedy but wonderful for slapstick, bad doubles entendres, and a throw-back to a golden age of British comedy.
  • Cleopatra (1999) 177 min. Leonor Varela as Cleopatra, Timothy Dalton as Julius Caesar, and Billy Zane as Mark Antony. Woeful.
Books and Plays

 

  • Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra.
  • George Bernard Shaw. Caesar and Cleopatra.
  • Goscinny and Uderzo, Asterix and Cleopatra.
Art

 

Music

 

 

The Battle of Actium

Laureys a Castro (fl. 1664-1700); Royal Museums Greenwich.

© From Wikipedia Commons.

 

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