William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

Helen Whall (College of the Holy Cross)
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Traditionally grouped with Shakespeare’s “Roman plays”, Antony and Cleopatra opens and closes in Egypt. Probably written in 1606-07, it was not printed until the 1623 Folio. Beginning with the Folio, editors have traditionally imposed classical act/scene divisions on a play that contains 42 scenes. Those scenes move rapidly between Egyptian and Roman settings, between land and sea. Since such fluidity defies classical division, many early critics pronounced Shakespeare’s structure “flawed”. His primary source, Thomas North’s 1579 translation of Plutarch’s Lives, similarly misled scholars to assume that Antony and Cleopatra celebrates the rise of …

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Citation: Whall, Helen. "Antony and Cleopatra". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 August 2020 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6560, accessed 30 September 2023.]

6560 Antony and Cleopatra 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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