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A sweeping epic of ancient Rome from the #1 bestselling author of The Thorn Birds

In this breathtaking follow-up to The October Horse, Colleen McCullough turns her attention to the legendary romance of Antony and Cleopatra, and in this timeless tale of love, politics, and power, proves once again that she is the best historical novelist of our time.

Caesar is dead, and Rome is, again, divided. Lepidus has retreated to Africa, while Antony rules the opulent East, and Octavian claims the West, the heart of Rome, as his domain. Though this tense truce holds civil war at bay, Rome seems ripe for an emperor -- a true Julian heir to lay claim to Caesar's legacy. With the bearing of a hero, and the riches of the East at his disposal, Antony seems poised to take the prize. Like a true warrior-king, he is a seasoned general whose lust for power burns alongside a passion for women, feasts, and Chian wine. His rival, Octavian, seems a less convincing candidate: the slight, golden-haired boy is as controlled as Antony is indulgent and as cool-headed and clear-eyed as Antony is impulsive. Indeed, the two are well matched only in ambition.

And though politics and war are decidedly the provinces of men in ancient Rome, women are adept at using their wits and charms to gain influence outside their traditional sphere. Cleopatra, the ruthless, golden-eyed queen, welcomes Antony to her court and her bed but keeps her heart well guarded. A ruler first and a woman second, Cleopatra has but one desire: to place her child on his father, Julius Caesar's, vacant throne. Octavian, too, has a strong woman by his side: his exquisite wife, raven-haired Livia Drusilla, who learns to wield quiet power to help her husband in his quest for ascendancy. As the plot races toward its inevitable conclusion -- with battles on land and sea -- conspiracy and murder, love and politics become irrevocably entwined.

McCullough's knowledge of Roman history is detailed and extensive. Her masterful and meticulously researched narrative is filled with a cast of historical characters whose motives, passions, flaws, and insecurities are vividly imagined and expertly drawn. The grandeur of ancient Rome comes to life as a timeless human drama plays out against the dramatic backdrop of the Republic's final days.
Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9781416577317
List price: $11.99
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I didn't like Antony and Cleopatra very much at the beginning -- but then, it always seems to take about an act for me to get into the swing of a Shakespeare play. It helps with Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra that I'm familiar with the history it's based on. It took me a while to warm to the characters of Antony and Cleopatra, though, but for all that there's something very human about the way Cleopatra reacts to Antony -- now this, now that -- and how he responds to her.

There are, of course, some beautiful speeches and descriptions here: I was nudged into reading this by reading a reference just yesterday to Cleopatra burning upon the water. I don't think I've seen this one as often quoted as I have the other Shakespeare plays I've been reading lately, though...more
"Antony & Cleopatra" is definitely not one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. It is a slow starter that sort of meanders about setting the scene for several acts before getting to the meat of the story. The ending, however, is terrific.... it just takes a long while to get there.In the play, Cleopatra has fallen in love with Antony, one of the triumverate of Roman rulers. Of course, the rulers can't see to get along and end up in conflict with each other. War, destruction and death ensue.It's an interesting story but not one of Shakespeare's most entertaining, unfortunately.more
I didn't like it as much as Shakespeare's other plays, probably because, for some reason, I had a harder time understanding it and it took me most of the first half of the play to really get into it. The very last scene is definitely my favorite, and I wish the rest of the play was that good.Cleopatra is probably one of my favorite female Shakespeare characters, though, along with her maids.more
I didn't like it as much as Shakespeare's other plays, probably because, for some reason, I had a harder time understanding it and it took me most of the first half of the play to really get into it. The very last scene is definitely my favorite, and I wish the rest of the play was that good.Cleopatra is probably one of my favorite female Shakespeare characters, though, along with her maids.more
*If you actually don't know the story of this play, just a warning, this review will probably contain some spoilers.This Shakespeare play tells the famous love story of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII. Their countries, the crumbling kingdom of Egypt and the rising, powerful kingdom of Rome, are at war, and relations are hostile between them. Despite all this, Antony and Cleopatra, who should have been enemies, are in love. Caesar is beginning to take desperate measures in order to lure Antony back to his homeland, where they need him as a general.This play contained a lot of interesting motives, with the love story between enemies as the most noticeable, of course. Caesar's many efforts to direct Antony's love back to Rome were also interesting - after the man had slighted him, insulted him, and defied him so many times, Caesar remains hopeful, and continues his attempts to reclaim his best general. Besides being in need of a strong commander for his war, Caesar obviously also loves Antony. He has him marry into his family, making Antony officially family, but he clearly thought of the young man as family far before the marriage.Cleopatra was also interesting, and one of those characters who you can't quite predict (besides knowing the story beforehand, that is). She is at times hard and cool, at other times warm. Cruel and kind, angry and happy. With Antony, her mind and moods change like the wind. I wondered, exasperated at times, how he could possibly put up with her. However, Antony seems to view this as evidence of how passionate Cleopatra is, how unique, and how mysterious she is. Antony is fascinated with her, and would have been no matter what.Like many hopeless romances that cannot possibly end well, this one doesn't. The scene where Antony flees from battle to follow Cleopatra was a sad one. On one hand, his ultimate, absolute devotion to her was touching. Being a soldier and a warrior was what he had been trained to do for all his life. Undoubtedly, he dreamed of one day being a general. He knows nothing else, and he has worked for nothing else. He will have had men in his charge on other ships, probably friends, perhaps men he grew up with. Yet he leaves them, to follow Cleopatra's ship. It was a terrible choice that had tragic consequences, one that was neither right nor wrong. Though he does not regret his love for Cleopatra, Antony acknowledges after his desertion from battle that he betrayed his men and himself. Cleopatra understands his shame.A tragic romance from Shakespeare.more
*If you actually don't know the story of this play, just a warning, this review will probably contain some spoilers.This Shakespeare play tells the famous love story of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII. Their countries, the crumbling kingdom of Egypt and the rising, powerful kingdom of Rome, are at war, and relations are hostile between them. Despite all this, Antony and Cleopatra, who should have been enemies, are in love. Caesar is beginning to take desperate measures in order to lure Antony back to his homeland, where they need him as a general.This play contained a lot of interesting motives, with the love story between enemies as the most noticeable, of course. Caesar's many efforts to direct Antony's love back to Rome were also interesting - after the man had slighted him, insulted him, and defied him so many times, Caesar remains hopeful, and continues his attempts to reclaim his best general. Besides being in need of a strong commander for his war, Caesar obviously also loves Antony. He has him marry into his family, making Antony officially family, but he clearly thought of the young man as family far before the marriage.Cleopatra was also interesting, and one of those characters who you can't quite predict (besides knowing the story beforehand, that is). She is at times hard and cool, at other times warm. Cruel and kind, angry and happy. With Antony, her mind and moods change like the wind. I wondered, exasperated at times, how he could possibly put up with her. However, Antony seems to view this as evidence of how passionate Cleopatra is, how unique, and how mysterious she is. Antony is fascinated with her, and would have been no matter what.Like many hopeless romances that cannot possibly end well, this one doesn't. The scene where Antony flees from battle to follow Cleopatra was a sad one. On one hand, his ultimate, absolute devotion to her was touching. Being a soldier and a warrior was what he had been trained to do for all his life. Undoubtedly, he dreamed of one day being a general. He knows nothing else, and he has worked for nothing else. He will have had men in his charge on other ships, probably friends, perhaps men he grew up with. Yet he leaves them, to follow Cleopatra's ship. It was a terrible choice that had tragic consequences, one that was neither right nor wrong. Though he does not regret his love for Cleopatra, Antony acknowledges after his desertion from battle that he betrayed his men and himself. Cleopatra understands his shame.A tragic romance from Shakespeare.more
*If you actually don't know the story of this play, just a warning, this review will probably contain some spoilers.This Shakespeare play tells the famous love story of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII. Their countries, the crumbling kingdom of Egypt and the rising, powerful kingdom of Rome, are at war, and relations are hostile between them. Despite all this, Antony and Cleopatra, who should have been enemies, are in love. Caesar is beginning to take desperate measures in order to lure Antony back to his homeland, where they need him as a general.This play contained a lot of interesting motives, with the love story between enemies as the most noticeable, of course. Caesar's many efforts to direct Antony's love back to Rome were also interesting - after the man had slighted him, insulted him, and defied him so many times, Caesar remains hopeful, and continues his attempts to reclaim his best general. Besides being in need of a strong commander for his war, Caesar obviously also loves Antony. He has him marry into his family, making Antony officially family, but he clearly thought of the young man as family far before the marriage.Cleopatra was also interesting, and one of those characters who you can't quite predict (besides knowing the story beforehand, that is). She is at times hard and cool, at other times warm. Cruel and kind, angry and happy. With Antony, her mind and moods change like the wind. I wondered, exasperated at times, how he could possibly put up with her. However, Antony seems to view this as evidence of how passionate Cleopatra is, how unique, and how mysterious she is. Antony is fascinated with her, and would have been no matter what.Like many hopeless romances that cannot possibly end well, this one doesn't. The scene where Antony flees from battle to follow Cleopatra was a sad one. On one hand, his ultimate, absolute devotion to her was touching. Being a soldier and a warrior was what he had been trained to do for all his life. Undoubtedly, he dreamed of one day being a general. He knows nothing else, and he has worked for nothing else. He will have had men in his charge on other ships, probably friends, perhaps men he grew up with. Yet he leaves them, to follow Cleopatra's ship. It was a terrible choice that had tragic consequences, one that was neither right nor wrong. Though he does not regret his love for Cleopatra, Antony acknowledges after his desertion from battle that he betrayed his men and himself. Cleopatra understands his shame.A tragic romance from Shakespeare.more
Not my favorite of the bard's work but he really can't write poorly. I am not as fascinated by this 'epic' love story as some may be.more
Not my favorite of the bard's work but he really can't write poorly. I am not as fascinated by this 'epic' love story as some may be.more
Not my favorite of the bard's work but he really can't write poorly. I am not as fascinated by this 'epic' love story as some may be.more
Despite its length and myriads of scene changes and characters to keep track of, I really enjoyed this play. I feel like it's not performed often enough on the Shakepeare circuits, but that helps to keep it fresh for me when I read it. The Folger edition contains footnotes to explain some of the archaic language and references, which is extremely helpful when reading.more
We had a free-choice play for my Shakespeare class, so I thought this would be a good one because Cleopatra is a great character. I also attempted to make a beaded headpiece to wear during my presentation, which didn't entirely work. The play is long and goes all over the place, but it's one of the greatest romances of all time, and worth reading.more
Had to read the play, cause I love the history. Im not a big fan of Shakespeare, but the loved the play because of the charectors.more
Read all 19 reviews

Reviews

I didn't like Antony and Cleopatra very much at the beginning -- but then, it always seems to take about an act for me to get into the swing of a Shakespeare play. It helps with Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra that I'm familiar with the history it's based on. It took me a while to warm to the characters of Antony and Cleopatra, though, but for all that there's something very human about the way Cleopatra reacts to Antony -- now this, now that -- and how he responds to her.

There are, of course, some beautiful speeches and descriptions here: I was nudged into reading this by reading a reference just yesterday to Cleopatra burning upon the water. I don't think I've seen this one as often quoted as I have the other Shakespeare plays I've been reading lately, though...more
"Antony & Cleopatra" is definitely not one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. It is a slow starter that sort of meanders about setting the scene for several acts before getting to the meat of the story. The ending, however, is terrific.... it just takes a long while to get there.In the play, Cleopatra has fallen in love with Antony, one of the triumverate of Roman rulers. Of course, the rulers can't see to get along and end up in conflict with each other. War, destruction and death ensue.It's an interesting story but not one of Shakespeare's most entertaining, unfortunately.more
I didn't like it as much as Shakespeare's other plays, probably because, for some reason, I had a harder time understanding it and it took me most of the first half of the play to really get into it. The very last scene is definitely my favorite, and I wish the rest of the play was that good.Cleopatra is probably one of my favorite female Shakespeare characters, though, along with her maids.more
I didn't like it as much as Shakespeare's other plays, probably because, for some reason, I had a harder time understanding it and it took me most of the first half of the play to really get into it. The very last scene is definitely my favorite, and I wish the rest of the play was that good.Cleopatra is probably one of my favorite female Shakespeare characters, though, along with her maids.more
*If you actually don't know the story of this play, just a warning, this review will probably contain some spoilers.This Shakespeare play tells the famous love story of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII. Their countries, the crumbling kingdom of Egypt and the rising, powerful kingdom of Rome, are at war, and relations are hostile between them. Despite all this, Antony and Cleopatra, who should have been enemies, are in love. Caesar is beginning to take desperate measures in order to lure Antony back to his homeland, where they need him as a general.This play contained a lot of interesting motives, with the love story between enemies as the most noticeable, of course. Caesar's many efforts to direct Antony's love back to Rome were also interesting - after the man had slighted him, insulted him, and defied him so many times, Caesar remains hopeful, and continues his attempts to reclaim his best general. Besides being in need of a strong commander for his war, Caesar obviously also loves Antony. He has him marry into his family, making Antony officially family, but he clearly thought of the young man as family far before the marriage.Cleopatra was also interesting, and one of those characters who you can't quite predict (besides knowing the story beforehand, that is). She is at times hard and cool, at other times warm. Cruel and kind, angry and happy. With Antony, her mind and moods change like the wind. I wondered, exasperated at times, how he could possibly put up with her. However, Antony seems to view this as evidence of how passionate Cleopatra is, how unique, and how mysterious she is. Antony is fascinated with her, and would have been no matter what.Like many hopeless romances that cannot possibly end well, this one doesn't. The scene where Antony flees from battle to follow Cleopatra was a sad one. On one hand, his ultimate, absolute devotion to her was touching. Being a soldier and a warrior was what he had been trained to do for all his life. Undoubtedly, he dreamed of one day being a general. He knows nothing else, and he has worked for nothing else. He will have had men in his charge on other ships, probably friends, perhaps men he grew up with. Yet he leaves them, to follow Cleopatra's ship. It was a terrible choice that had tragic consequences, one that was neither right nor wrong. Though he does not regret his love for Cleopatra, Antony acknowledges after his desertion from battle that he betrayed his men and himself. Cleopatra understands his shame.A tragic romance from Shakespeare.more
*If you actually don't know the story of this play, just a warning, this review will probably contain some spoilers.This Shakespeare play tells the famous love story of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII. Their countries, the crumbling kingdom of Egypt and the rising, powerful kingdom of Rome, are at war, and relations are hostile between them. Despite all this, Antony and Cleopatra, who should have been enemies, are in love. Caesar is beginning to take desperate measures in order to lure Antony back to his homeland, where they need him as a general.This play contained a lot of interesting motives, with the love story between enemies as the most noticeable, of course. Caesar's many efforts to direct Antony's love back to Rome were also interesting - after the man had slighted him, insulted him, and defied him so many times, Caesar remains hopeful, and continues his attempts to reclaim his best general. Besides being in need of a strong commander for his war, Caesar obviously also loves Antony. He has him marry into his family, making Antony officially family, but he clearly thought of the young man as family far before the marriage.Cleopatra was also interesting, and one of those characters who you can't quite predict (besides knowing the story beforehand, that is). She is at times hard and cool, at other times warm. Cruel and kind, angry and happy. With Antony, her mind and moods change like the wind. I wondered, exasperated at times, how he could possibly put up with her. However, Antony seems to view this as evidence of how passionate Cleopatra is, how unique, and how mysterious she is. Antony is fascinated with her, and would have been no matter what.Like many hopeless romances that cannot possibly end well, this one doesn't. The scene where Antony flees from battle to follow Cleopatra was a sad one. On one hand, his ultimate, absolute devotion to her was touching. Being a soldier and a warrior was what he had been trained to do for all his life. Undoubtedly, he dreamed of one day being a general. He knows nothing else, and he has worked for nothing else. He will have had men in his charge on other ships, probably friends, perhaps men he grew up with. Yet he leaves them, to follow Cleopatra's ship. It was a terrible choice that had tragic consequences, one that was neither right nor wrong. Though he does not regret his love for Cleopatra, Antony acknowledges after his desertion from battle that he betrayed his men and himself. Cleopatra understands his shame.A tragic romance from Shakespeare.more
*If you actually don't know the story of this play, just a warning, this review will probably contain some spoilers.This Shakespeare play tells the famous love story of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII. Their countries, the crumbling kingdom of Egypt and the rising, powerful kingdom of Rome, are at war, and relations are hostile between them. Despite all this, Antony and Cleopatra, who should have been enemies, are in love. Caesar is beginning to take desperate measures in order to lure Antony back to his homeland, where they need him as a general.This play contained a lot of interesting motives, with the love story between enemies as the most noticeable, of course. Caesar's many efforts to direct Antony's love back to Rome were also interesting - after the man had slighted him, insulted him, and defied him so many times, Caesar remains hopeful, and continues his attempts to reclaim his best general. Besides being in need of a strong commander for his war, Caesar obviously also loves Antony. He has him marry into his family, making Antony officially family, but he clearly thought of the young man as family far before the marriage.Cleopatra was also interesting, and one of those characters who you can't quite predict (besides knowing the story beforehand, that is). She is at times hard and cool, at other times warm. Cruel and kind, angry and happy. With Antony, her mind and moods change like the wind. I wondered, exasperated at times, how he could possibly put up with her. However, Antony seems to view this as evidence of how passionate Cleopatra is, how unique, and how mysterious she is. Antony is fascinated with her, and would have been no matter what.Like many hopeless romances that cannot possibly end well, this one doesn't. The scene where Antony flees from battle to follow Cleopatra was a sad one. On one hand, his ultimate, absolute devotion to her was touching. Being a soldier and a warrior was what he had been trained to do for all his life. Undoubtedly, he dreamed of one day being a general. He knows nothing else, and he has worked for nothing else. He will have had men in his charge on other ships, probably friends, perhaps men he grew up with. Yet he leaves them, to follow Cleopatra's ship. It was a terrible choice that had tragic consequences, one that was neither right nor wrong. Though he does not regret his love for Cleopatra, Antony acknowledges after his desertion from battle that he betrayed his men and himself. Cleopatra understands his shame.A tragic romance from Shakespeare.more
Not my favorite of the bard's work but he really can't write poorly. I am not as fascinated by this 'epic' love story as some may be.more
Not my favorite of the bard's work but he really can't write poorly. I am not as fascinated by this 'epic' love story as some may be.more
Not my favorite of the bard's work but he really can't write poorly. I am not as fascinated by this 'epic' love story as some may be.more
Despite its length and myriads of scene changes and characters to keep track of, I really enjoyed this play. I feel like it's not performed often enough on the Shakepeare circuits, but that helps to keep it fresh for me when I read it. The Folger edition contains footnotes to explain some of the archaic language and references, which is extremely helpful when reading.more
We had a free-choice play for my Shakespeare class, so I thought this would be a good one because Cleopatra is a great character. I also attempted to make a beaded headpiece to wear during my presentation, which didn't entirely work. The play is long and goes all over the place, but it's one of the greatest romances of all time, and worth reading.more
Had to read the play, cause I love the history. Im not a big fan of Shakespeare, but the loved the play because of the charectors.more
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