The many faces of Cleopatra : from propaganda to myth.
Few women of antiquity have gripped the public imagination as Cleopatra has. For centuries, she has inspired playwrights, poets, artists and film-makers, with the result that she and Antony are arguably history's most famous lovers. However, I have not yet encountered a study which discusses, in one work, the multiple constructions of Cleopatra across the range of genres in which she has been represented. Certainly, many books and articles are devoted to revealing how Cleopatra has been constructed in one or other specific genre, but it seems as though no attempts have been made to portray, in juxtaposition to one another, the many faces of Cleopatra. This dissertation seeks to do just that. Although I could not possibly include a discussion ofevery genre in which Cleopatra has been constructed, I have chosen six areas for study: ancient Greek biography (using Plutarch's Life ofAntony); the poetry of the Augustan poets: Vergil (the Aeneid), Horace (Ode 1.37) and Propertius (Elegies 3.11); Shakespearean tragedy (Antony and Cleopatra); art (numismatics and ancient sculpture); film (Joseph Mankiewicz's Cleopatra), and, briefly, Africanist historiography. I have chosen these areas because each offers such diverse constructions of Cleopatra that one begins to appreciate how historiography, propaganda and representation have contributed to the shaping ofthe Cleopatra myth, coloured by the ideology ofthe age in which she has been interpreted afresh. Current Africanist appropriations ofCleopatra suggest that historiography is never neutral: race and gender often intersect to create 'historical' identities.