What impression does Dio give of the relationship between Cleopatra and Antony Essay
Part 1 Cleopatra
What impression does Dio give of the relationship between Cleopatra and Antony, and how does this impression relate to other Roman attitudes found in the chapter? The portrait of Cleopatra overpowering and enslaving Antony in their relationship was a constant subject in the Roman sources. (Fear, 2008 p. 10) Dio’s impression of Cleopatra and Antony’s relationship was that “she had laid him under some spell and deprived him of his wits.” (Scott-Kilvert, 1987a) Dio pictures Antony as being charmed and spellbound by her, the activities described in the extract reveals that Antony was like a shadow of a manly and disciplined Ruler of Rome, he has embraced foreign and immoral way of life and became bewitched by Cleopatra. Dio strongly bases his impression on other artists of that time picturing Cleopatra with Antony as the goddesses and gods of Egypt and Greece.
The behaviour of Cleopatra and Antony described in the extract such as “she was saluted by him as ‘queen’ and ‘mistress’” or she “rode with him on horseback even in the cities or else was carried in a litter, while Antony followed on foot” brings no doubt that he, Dio, believed that Cleopatra enslaved Antony and this relationship was fatal to Antony’s rulership over Rome. The attitudes of other Romans towards the relationship between Cleopatra and Antony was clearly similar to the impression given by Cassius Dio. Burstein (2004 pp. 65 – 66) reveals that Roman image of Cleopatra originated in the fierce campaign Octavian started against her as part of his preparation for his war against Antony. His propaganda of her relationship with Antony became the key for the negative and judgemental impression of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra. The two themes that dominated were; Antony was dominated by Cleopatra, and Cleopatra’s goal was to use Antony as a tool to take over and rule over Rome.
Octavian dishonoured Antony based on his efforts to please Cleopatra by embracing Egyptian way of life. The society was so shocked about Octavian’s declarations that they actually believed any other rumours were true, i.e. if Antony gained victory, he would hand over Rome to the Queen of Egypt. (Scott-Kilvert, 1987b) In the Plutarch’s work ‘Life of Antony’ their relationship was seen as unhealthy, Antony is depicted as a man who lost his mind and the sense of responsibility. That helps Plutarch to think that there might not have been a genuine feeling between Antony and Cleopatra, and even if there have been love and mutual attachment, the Roman morals at that time of Plutarch’s writing, would not redeem them. (Fear, 2008 p. 11) The Roman perspective on Egypt and Cleopatra drew sharp distinctions between two sides. Rome was seen as masculine and disciplined while Egypt was seen as careless and effeminate. Such views provided a context for Dio and Plutarch for bewitchment and ruin of Antony. His involvement with Cleopatra becomes like a “parable of how the great can be destroyed by their moral flaws”. (Fear, 2008, p. 14)
Burstein, S., M., (2004) The Reign of Cleopatra, Greenwood Press, New York, pp. 65 – 66. a Cassius Dio, 50.5; quoted from Cassius Dio: The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus, trans. Ian Scott-Kilverst, Penguin Books, 1987 in AA100 The Arts Past and Present Assignment Booklet October 2010. b Cassius Dio, 50.5; quoted from Cassius Dio: The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus, trans. Ian Scott-Kilverst, Penguin Books, 1987 p. 38. Fear, T. (2008) ‘Cleopatra’, in Moohan, E. (ed.) Reputations (AA100 Book 1), Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 2 – 28.
Part 2 Cézanne
Explain why you think this painting (The House of the Hanged Man at Auvers, 1872 – 1873) was dismissed so scathingly by some critics when it was exhibited with the Independents in 1874. Cézanne’s painting The House of the Hanged Man at Auvers 1872 – 1873 was dismissed so scathingly by some critics, because it brought a new genre of art to the attention of other artists and art lovers. Cézanne and the group of Impressionists exhibited their paintings in 1874 and this exhibition marked a very important separation between traditionalists and modernists. This particular painting was very different to both of the genres and that is why it was dismissed. The exhibition unleashed a hail of ridicule and hilarity among the public and critics, because the exhibits were so far from traditional and classical art. The comments were that “the artists must have painted their pictures by loading pistols with tubes of paint and firing them at their canvases”. (Becks-Malorney, 2004 p. 30). That clearly reveals the differences of brushstroke work between traditional painting and impressionist’s work. Harrison (2008, p 75) says the guiding principle of Impressionism was to achieve a kind of realism in the visual effects of nature and modern life. This particular painting’s motif “became a convert to the light, fleet and vibratory touch of impressionism”. (Loyrette in Tuchman, 1996 p. 96)
The composition of the painting still has traces of classical art, it creates illusion of depth and even though framing and positioning does not follow the classical model it still shows awareness of it. The elements are forcefully compressed into space organising the whole picture. But, in this painting Cézanne abandoned classical rough, dark manner and his tones become brighter and vibrant. The brushwork prevents to maintain the illusion of reality, it is diagonal which makes it hard to depict this scene from the vantage point of the short inclined path, just above the cottage. It is like glancing down at the cottage on a diagonal, which provided Cézanne with an inkling of what would become his “constructive stroke”. It looks like he applied the paint with stiff square-ended brushes and left coloured touches unblended on the surface. The effect of this was to make it difficult for the viewer to ignore the coincidence of the literal surface with the picture plane. Picture space is problematic, there are two different simultaneous visual perceptions: a perception of depth, and sense of intricate spatial relationships. The spectator’s view of the cottage is diagonal, this makes it hard to find it in the first place. Those who viewed Cézanne’s painting looking for traditional standards of artist skill it must appeared simply worthless. After the dismissal in 1874, the work of Cézanne raised wide differences of opinion and it served brilliantly to demonstrate the gap that rapidly grew between traditional and ‘modern’ views on art. Avant-garde movements started to play the central role in the art-world during the early twentieth century, so Cézanne’s reputation grew consequently. (Harrison, 2008 p 63, 83)
Becks-Malorney, U., (2004), Paul Cézanne, 1839 – 1906: pioneer of modernism, TASCHEN, Los Angeles, p. 30. Harrison, C. (2008) ‘Cézanne’, in Moohan, E. (ed.) Reputations (AA100 Book 1), Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 56 – 84. The Open University (2008), AA100 Illustration Book Plates for Books 1 and 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University. Tuchman, P., (1996), ‘Review: The Radical Classicist’, Art Journal, vol. 55, no 4, pp. 95 – 97.