Caesar and Cleopatra [NOOK Book]

Overview

ISBN-13: 978-1461180463 also available in print
ISBN-10: 1461180465
BISAC: Performing Arts / Screenplays
Caesar and Cleopatra, a play written in 1898 by George Bernard Shaw, was first staged in 1901 and first published with Captain Brassbound's Conversion and The Devil's Disciple in his 1901 collection, Three Plays for Puritans. It was first...
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Caesar and Cleopatra

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Overview

ISBN-13: 978-1461180463 also available in print
ISBN-10: 1461180465
BISAC: Performing Arts / Screenplays
Caesar and Cleopatra, a play written in 1898 by George Bernard Shaw, was first staged in 1901 and first published with Captain Brassbound's Conversion and The Devil's Disciple in his 1901 collection, Three Plays for Puritans. It was first performed at Newcastle-on-Tyne on March 15, 1899. The first London production was at the Savoy Theatre in 1907.

The famous scene in which Cleopatra, concealed in a rolled-up carpet, is smuggled into Caesar's presence was credited by Otto Skorzeny as the inspiration for his doing the same to his kidnapping victim Miklós Horthy, Jr. in 1944 during Operation Panzerfaust.

Shaw wants to prove that it was not love but politics that drew Cleopatra to Julius Caesar. He sees the Roman occupation of ancient Egypt as similar to the British occupation that was occurring during his time. Caesar understands the importance of good government, and values these things above art and love.

Shaw's philosophy has often been compared to that of Nietzsche. Their shared admiration for men of action shows itself in Shaw's description of Caesar's struggle with Pompey. In the prologue, the god Ra says, "the blood and iron ye pin your faith on fell before the spirit of man; for the spirit of man is the will of the gods."

A second theme, apparent both from the text of the play itself and from Shaw's lengthy notes after the play, is Shaw's belief that people have not been morally improved by civilization and technology. A line from the prologue clearly illustrates this point. The god Ra addresses the audience and says, "ye shall marvel, after your ignorant manner, that men twenty centuries ago were already just such as you, and spoke and lived as ye speak and live, no worse and no better, no wiser and no sillier."

Another theme is the value of clemency. Caesar remarks that he will not stoop to vengeance when confronted with Septimius, the murderer of Pompey. Caesar throws away letters that would have identified his enemies in Rome, instead choosing to try to win them to his side. Pothinus remarks that Caesar doesn't torture his captives. At several points in the play, Caesar lets his enemies go instead of killing them. The wisdom of this approach is revealed when Cleopatra orders her nurse to kill Pothinus because of his "treachery and disloyalty" (but really because of his insults to her). This probably contrasts with historical fact. The murder enrages the Egyptian crowd, and but for Mithridates' reinforcements would have meant the death of all the protagonists. Caesar only endorses the retaliatory murder of Cleopatra's nurse because it was necessary and humane.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940012898289
  • Publisher: zuubooks.com
  • Publication date: 6/23/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 124
  • Sales rank: 1,088,611
  • File size: 2 MB

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2002

    A Side of Caesar That You Should See

    Julius Caesar is a legendary figure of power that almost all of us are familiar with, and Shaw gives us his perspective of what Caesar was like in his play, 'Caesar and Cleopatra'. In this work, Caesar becomes a mouthpiece for Shaw's viewpoints, which in many ways contradicts popular beliefs of Caesar's role as a ruler, his ambition, and his relationship to Cleopatra. Many sources within classical literature depict Caesar as an ambitious, power-hungry ruler that had the potential to become a tyrant. His romantic relationship with Cleopatra has been portrayed in numerous books, articles, and movies for its entertainment value and sex appeal. Shaw portrays Caesar differently. He is seen as wise and rules for the good of Rome, rather than for personal ambition. He comes out as successful, focusing on his strengths and not his downfall. His relationship with Cleopatra is seen more as a father-daughter relationship, rather than one as a lover. He possesses values that contrast with those of other leaders in his time. We can see that Caesar is different and compare the qualities that he possesses with those of other rulers to determine what qualities truly make a good leader. These differences are emphasized, in such a way that Caesar and other Roman leaders seem to come from two different worlds. Caesar sees the misuse of power by other rulers, where they will give way to bribes and participate in war to obtain greater influence and power. Caesar pokes fun at some of the actions and behaviors of the other Romans, which brings humor and spice to the novel. Cleopatra does not seduce or influence Caesar; she is shown to be very naive. Caesar is not influenced by her, but rather acts more as a mentor, trying to shape her and help her to grow. If you have read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Caesar and Cleopatra is a must-read. It will give you a different perspective of Caesar's character in a comical, enjoyable manner. I enjoyed this play immensely. It not only provided a new view of Caesar, but allowed me to explore my values and viewpoints of fair and just leadership.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2002

    A Summary of Caesar and Cleopatra

    In this play, Julius Caesar travels to Egypt and encounters a young and immature Cleopatra. The play tells the story of how Caesar acts as a mentor to Cleopatra, guiding and shaping her into the powerful Queen of Egypt. Unlike other versions of Caesar and Cleopatra in history, Shaw adapts them for his piece. Caesar is portrayed in Shaw's image and untrue to what history may tell, he did not have a sexual relationship with Cleopatra; this was more of a father-daughter relationship. Cleopatra was also portrayed as not being a seductress, which is a common theme for her in other works of literature and films. I liked this play; it has some subtle humor, which was enjoyable. I have also read William Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar', and it was interesting to see the variations in the characters of Caesar. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar', or anyone who maybe at all inerested in this book. It was an easy read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2011

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