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Caesar and Cleopatra

1 rating: 5.0
A book by George Bernard Shaw

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Author: George Bernard Shaw
Publisher: General Books LLC
1 review about Caesar and Cleopatra

A play about ancients that makes us think about our own time

  • Sep 28, 2010
This is no love story. The wise and manipulative sixteen year old Cleopatra, one of two claimants to the throne of Egypt, tries to outmaneuver Caesar, the over fifty year old Roman general who had grasped control of her country, who is also wise, and who understands Cleopatra's subtlety, her desire to wrest political control over Egypt from her ten year old brother/husband Ptolemy.

How could Shaw portray people who lived in a different culture close to two thousand years ago? Shaw tells us that despite the passing of so many centuries, people do not really change. Thus he can portray the people in his comedy and their reactions as if they were living today. Thus, also, in reverse, he is able to show the folly of the English people of his own age in his portrayal of the ancients. At the outset of the play, for example, the Egyptians speak of themselves as if they are the descendants of the gods. Is this any different than humanity today, who also act as if they are the greatest beings of creation and that they can do to the world as they see fit.

Cleopatra is depicted as a kittenish, childish, immature, frightened, young girl who is also afraid of her servants and who wants to hide from the Romans. Caesar is shown as a seasoned warrior, afraid of nothing, yet with a sense of humor, a womanizer who is fascinated and charmed by the kittenish Cleopatra.

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