Critical Analysis of Relations between Julius Caesar and Mark Antony

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If one knows nothing about the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, then watching this film will help one understand of her and her life. The film Cleopatra has been noted as one of Hollywood’s best accurate representations of her. Therefore, if someone wanted to know about the life of Cleopatra, they would get a clear and good understanding by watching this film. For instance, before I watched this film, I did not know anything about her or her life. After watching this film, I learned a lot about Cleopatra, and two of the main characters, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. First, I will be discussing the romances of Cleopatra. She married two of her brothers, Ptolemy XII and Ptolemy XIV. “Cleopatra was married to her brother and co-ruler Ptolemy XIII. In 48 BC, Ptolemy tried to overthrow his sister, forcing her to flee to Syria and Egypt.” (“10 Facts about Cleopatra.” History Hit.) Cleopatra’s romances with her brothers were not stated in the film Cleopatra.

Only her romances between Julius Caesar and Mark Antony were noted in the film. Her relationship with Julius Caesar started when she wanted to regain her throne, and knowing that she needed Caesar’s help, she demanded him to help her. Once Cleopatra was crowned as the Queen of Egypt, she dreamt of ruling the world with Caesar. They became lovers and married, and Cleopatra became pregnant with their son, Caesarion. In 44 BCE, Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March in Rome. This led Cleopatra to return to Egypt with her son. Three years later after Caesar’s death, Mark Antony defeated and killed Brutus and Cassius, two of the men that murdered Caesar, at the Battle of Philippi. Antony plans on attacking Parthia, but he needs money and supplies, so he asks Cleopatra. At first, she declined his offer, but later met him on her royal barge in Tarsus. They began their love affair later that night, and he followed her to Egypt, leaving behind his wife Fulvia and their children. The film does not mention Fulvia or none of their kids. When Antony returned to Rome, Cleopatra gave birth to twins, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. Their children were also not mentioned in the film. After returning to Rome, Fulvia died, so Antony married Octavia, Octavian’s sister, in order to show loyalty to Octavian. This upset Cleopatra, and in the film, Antony needed more funds from her in exchange for some of his territories.

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They forgive each other, and Antony marries Cleopatra, while he divorces Octavia. Cleopatra gives birth to their other son, Ptolemy Philadelphos, who is also not mentioned in the film. Secondly, I will be discussing the battles in the film and the battles that happened in reality. There were a few battles in the film Cleopatra, but only the Battle of Philippi and the Battle of Actium was the most significant. The Battle of Philippi took place in 42 BC, after the assassination of Julius Caesar, fought by Antony, Octavian, and Marcus Lepidus. “Caesar loyalists Mark Antony, Octavian Caesar, and Marcus Lepidus formed a triumvirate. They seized control of Rome and the empire’s western provinces, then set off to defeat Caesar’s killers, Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius, who had joined with other opponents of Caesar in raising the eastern provinces of the empire.” (Matthews, Rupert.) The film captures the celebration after the battle is over. The Battle of Actium took place in 31 BC, and it was fought between Octavian with the Romans and Antony with the Egyptians. In the film, the battle happened because Octavian read Antony’s will to the Roman senate, and it was revealed that Antony wished to be buried in Egypt once he died. The Romans turned against Antony and declared war against him and Egypt. “Antony followed Cleopatra’s advice to recruit the fleet. He drew up his ships outside the bay with Cleopatra’s army behind. Troops on each side were trying to outflank the other until Cleopatra took her Egyptian troops and left the battle.

Antony then stopped fighting and left the battle with a few ships that managed to follow Cleopatra. The remainder of his fleet became discouraged and surrendered to Octavian, and Antony’s land forces surrendered one week later.” (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2018). Battle of Actium | ancient Roman history.)The film depicted this battle accurately, as Antony's soldiers were very upset that he left them for Cleopatra. The film showed that Antony was depressed because of this, and barely spoke to anyone, including Cleopatra. Next, I will be discussing the deaths of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony. In the film, Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC on the Ides of March. He was appointed dictator for life, but he wanted more. He wanted to be king of Rome, but Rome did not have an official ruler. Cleopatra told Caesar to accept the offer of being ruler over some other cities, but Caesar did not want to accept it. The Romans heard that Caesar wanted to be king over Rome, and they did not like that. “The night before Caesar’s assassination, the senate tells Brutus he must “save Rome from Caesar.” The senate says they will call Caesar “king” everywhere except for the city of Rome. Caesar says that, as dictator of Rome, he recently appointed senators who will be on his side for voting. But he does not know that the same night, the senate plots to murder him.

The next morning, Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, has a dream that he was killed and murdered, and Cleopatra is also nervous about him going to the Senate. Caesar doesn’t listen to them and goes to the senate and is murdered by them. His body is burned in a bonfire in front of the senate building, where many citizens started surrounding.” (Hollywood and History: Cleopatra (1963) – Classical Studies.) The death of Mark Antony happened in 30 BC. In the film, Octavian wants to battle Antony and Cleopatra convinces him to finish fighting Octavian. He does so, but the night before the battle, Antony’s troops abandon him and Rufio kills himself. He surrendered to Octavian and made his way back to Egypt. Apollodorus, a loyal follower of Cleopatra, did not think that Antony was worthy of her, and told Antony that Cleopatra killed herself. Antony then stabbed himself with his sword. While he was dying, Apollodorus told him that he lied and that Cleopatra was still alive. He took Antony to Cleopatra’s tomb, where she was waiting for Antony to return. Antony later dies in her arms, and Octavian, with his army, marches into Egypt. He and his army found Apollodorus’ body, noting that he drank poison, and killed himself. Octavian found out that Antony is dead and that Cleopatra was in her tomb. He goes into her tomb and tells her that he will allow her to rule Egypt as a Roman province as long as she accompanies him to Rome. She declines his offer at first, but she sees her son Caesarion’s ring on Octavian’s finger, noting that he is dead, so she accepts his offer. Octavian told her not to kill or harm herself, and she pledges on the life of her son that she will not. When he leaves, she tells her servants in coded language to help her kill herself. She tells one of her servants to bring her a tablet to write on to write a message for Octavian.

Cleopatra tells her servants that she wants to be dressed in the dress of gold, which was the same dress that Antony first saw her. She tells her servants to bring her something to eat, and she also tells them to take the message to Octavian but tells them to wait. Once the message gets to Octavian, he and his guards burst into her tomb and find her dead and dressed in gold. One of her servants is dead, while the other servant is still dressing Cleopatra, while she is dying. She dies and Octavian and his troops see the asp that killed her moving across the floor. Next, I will be comparing the scenery and setting of the film to the actual locations in reality. The film takes place between 48 BC and 31 BC, in Alexandria, Egypt, and Rome. The film actually was filmed between the years 1960 and 1963. “London’s Pinewood Studios in London, England was used to look like Alexandria, Egypt, in the film. But later, poor weather caused the outdoor set buildings to peel. Twelve million dollars later, the sets were taken down and rebuilt at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios. Thousands of workmen and artists were recruited to re-envision Cleopatra’s world. They built and decorated golden carved walls, majestic temples, and massive statues of mythological creatures.” (Nast, Condé. “The Set Designs of ‘Cleopatra,’ Elizabeth Taylor’s Classic Movie.”) Much of the scenery of the film was made precisely and accurately based on Queen Cleopatra, the Egyptians and Romans, and the exact places where the film was taking place.

The film was not actually shot in Egypt, but it was filmed between Egypt and Rome. The filming locations were the Tabernas Desert in Spain, Cabo de Gata in Spain, London in England, Malibu in California, Anzio in Italy, Alcazaba of Almeria in Spain, Ischia in Italy, and Rome in Italy. (“Cleopatra (1963) - IMDb.”) Now, I am going to be discussing the appearance of Cleopatra in the film and reality. Cleopatra is said to be well-known for her beauty and appearance. In the film Cleopatra, actress Elizabeth Taylor portrayed the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. Elizabeth Taylor was one of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses in the 1950s and 1960s, and her beauty was one of the reasons why she was picked to portray Cleopatra. “There are some artifacts that show what Cleopatra’s appearance may have been like. One of the most important artifacts is a marble bust dating to the third quarter of the 1st century BC. Her face is framed by parts of curly hair, and the rest of her hair is arranged in a “melon” style and styled into a bun behind her head. Her eyes are almond-shaped, and her features reflected her intelligence and charm. On another bust, her features are generally soft and her lips full. Her nose is missing, but the space where her nose was on the face suggests that it was large.” (Wallenfeldt, Jeff.) In the film, Cleopatra wore many different styled wigs and makeup.

She had braided wigs, short wigs, straight bob wigs, and many more. “Greek biographer Plutarch, writing about a century after Cleopatra’s death, presented a less beautiful picture of her: 'For her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her.” He was quick to note Cleopatra’s “irresistible charm,” persuasiveness, sweet voice, and stimulating presence. (”Wallenfeldt, Jeff.)The rest of the characters in the film were mostly played by Caucasian actors and actresses. The African-American actors and actresses played servants for Cleopatra, and they would dance and performed for Cleopatra and the citizens of Egypt and Rome. Next, I will be discussing the costumes of that the Egyptians and Romans wore in the film versus reality. In the film, Cleopatra wore many different outfits. She had many different colors, styles, wigs, and headpieces. “According to Robert LaVine, “to achieve historical accuracy for the film, research for the outfits was done from early Egyptian bas-reliefs, tomb paintings, and sculptures.”Cleopatra had many outfits, and a few of the clothing that she was portrayed to wear in the film were strap gowns, the royal haik, and the kalasiris. The Egyptians in the movie wore gold and had many outfits also. Cleopatra had many different wigs, which was one of the main fashion statements in the film. Cleopatra had many different wigs, which was one of the main fashion statements in the film. “Cleopatra’s wigs and headdresses are very important elements of the costuming in this film. The first wig she wore is a shoulder-length pageboy with short bangs. The second one falls in three layers to her shoulders.

Later in the film, the wigs grow more complicated, and they were accessorized with decorative golden beads and headdresses laid on top.” (Font, Lourdes). Overall, the film depicted the costumes of Cleopatra very well. The rich Egyptians in Cleopatra wore similar costumes to Cleopatra. “Working-class men wore loincloths or short kilts, as well as long shirt-like garments tied with a sash at the waist. Kilts were made from a rectangular piece of linen that was folded around the body and tied at the waist. Wealthy men wore knee-length shirts, loincloths, or kilts and adorned themselves with jewelry – a string of beads, armlets, and bracelets. Working-class women wore full-length wraparound gowns and close-fitting sheaths. Elite women amplified their appearance with make-up, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Both men and women wore sandals made of papyrus.” (History Museum. “Egyptian Civilization - Daily Life - Clothing and Adornment.”) The website also states, “When royalty was portrayed in statues, temple carvings, and wall paintings, it was the beauty and self-confidence of the subject that was conveyed. Egyptian men had slim bodies, broad shoulders, and muscular arms and legs, and the women had flat stomachs, small waists, and rounded busts. Both wore formal clothing and jewelry, and they stood tall with their heads held high. The men and women in Egypt wore hairpieces and wigs. Arranged into braids and strands, they were often long and heavy. They also may have been worn at ceremonial celebrations.” (History Museum. “Egyptian Civilization - Daily Life - Clothing and Adornment.”) However, the Romans dressed somewhat differently than the Egyptians.

In the film, I noticed that the Romans wore many burgundy and white costumes. Men generally wore white or off-white colored clothing. “There were certain colors or markings that showed the status of a man. Women wore white clothing until they were married. Once married, they wore clothing in a variety of colors. Men's clothing included the tunic, the toga, and cloaks. The tunic was like a long shirt and a belt was used about the waist to keep it tight. The toga was worn by upper-class men outside the home or on formal occasions. Togas were very heavy and uncomfortable. Roman men also wore a wide variety of cloaks to stay warm in bad weather. Roman women's clothing included the tunic, the stola, and cloaks. The tunic was the primary piece of clothing worn by peasants and unmarried women. The women's tunic was typically longer than the men's. The stola was the traditional form of clothing worn by married Roman women. It was a long pleated dress held on by belts. It could also be decorated with ribbons and colors. Like the men, women wore cloaks on top of their clothes in cold or bad weather. The palla was a typical cloak worn over the stola and fastened with brooches.” (“Ancient Rome for Kids: Clothing and Fashion.”, 2019.)The website also states, “Hairstyles changed throughout the history of Ancient Rome. Typical artwork from the middle to late stages of the Roman Republic shows men having fairly short hair and being clean-shaven. This changed somewhat during the Roman Empire when beards and curly hair were in fashion. Women's hairstyles varied widely. Wealthy women had their hair curled, pinned into place, plaited in the back, or put into a bun.” (“Ancient Rome for Kids: Clothing and Fashion.”, 2019.) Lastly, I will be discussing some ways that the film Cleopatra would have been better if it were a more accurate representation of the life of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. Like I stated earlier, Cleopatra is Hollywood’s best representation of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. The film included some of the best actors and actresses of the 1960s.

The film would have been better if they included all of Cleopatra’s children. The film only included Caesarion, Cleopatra, and Caesar’s child. She had other children with Antony, but they were not discussed in the film. The film is also a little over-dramatic, and it somewhat lacked reality and passion. But overall, the film discussed the summary of Cleopatra’s life once Julius Caesar came to Egypt and her life with Mark Antony. “Cleopatra was the most expensive film ever upon its release. With an original budget of $2 million, location changes, a new director, and other complications caused the budget to expand to $44 million (Cyrino 139). The film featured an “all-star” cast, which drew in viewers. Mankiewicz wanted to use the history behind Cleopatra’s story to create a strong central character, who greatly influenced two very strong, prominent men. Another important factor that added to the glamour and luxury of the expensive film was the costumes and set pieces, which won the film an academy award. These set another record due to their cost: 30 wigs for Cleopatra and 125 pieces of jewelry totaling $130,000 (Cyrino 141). The extras in the battle scenes for Pharsalus, Philippi, and Actium had 26,000 costumes that cost half a million dollars, palm trees were flown in from California, and the fanciful barge Cleopatra sails in to meet Antony cost $250,000. The wealth of Egypt was reflected through these costumes and set pieces; they showcase the wealth and opulence Cleopatra possessed and lived in.” (“Hollywood and History: Cleopatra (1963) – Classical Studies. –”) The film Cleopatra was not 100% accurate, but it was and still is the most accurate and the most popular film about Queen Cleopatra, so if one knows nothing about the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, then watching this film will help them understand her and her life better.

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