Memoirs of Cleopatra
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170 lines of discussion for May. 13, 2000
17:01 Torrey Philemon enters...
17:02 Torrey Philemon: Hello! Hello! Chat on Memoirs of Cleopatra starting now (as soon as there's someone here to talk to other than myself <-: )
17:14 Morgana Flavius enters...
17:15 Morgana Flavius: Hi Torrey!
17:16 Morgana Flavius: Only the two of us so far?
17:17 Torrey Philemon: Glad you made it Morgana. I'm disappointed though that no one else is showing up.
17:18 Morgana Flavius: Yeah... there was not much participation in the board either... Do you know if Atalanta will make it?
17:19 Torrey Philemon: I really like what you just posted. The novelization that you read previously sounds fascinating - I'd like to read more about the Antony/Octavia relationship.
17:20 Morgana Flavius: Yes. Terenci Moix book is a very good novel, but not a good historical source. George is much better in that respect.
17:21 Morgana Flavius: But at least, Moix gave some longer thought on Octavia and Antony. The second book starts when Octavia is giving birth to Antony's daughter.
17:22 Torrey Philemon: Yes, and understandably we only get the story through Cleopatra's perspective in Memoirs.
17:22 Morgana Flavius: And, while Antony is with Octavia, Cleopatra is reported to be sailing the Nile, trying to forget Antony in the arms of other lovers...
17:23 Morgana Flavius: Yes... but I still could think that George could tell more about Octavia by letters sent to her from her spies in Athens, or any other means...
17:23 Torrey Philemon: I feel understanding of Antony's marrying Octavia though. It really appeared to be political necessity.....rather than a personal decision. He had to put politics first. His downfall may be in part to the fact that he stopped putting politics first and put Cleopatra first.
17:24 Morgana Flavius: Moix clearly fell on Octavian's trapping stories about Cleopatra's promiscuous love life.
17:25 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I agree with you on that. Poor Antony... I just finished reading about his defeat in Parthia... What a vivid account George was able to come up there!
17:26 Torrey Philemon: Do you think Octavius all along intended to gain the upper hand over Antony and ease him out of power.....or do you think he decided to do so when Antony became so devoted to Cleopatra?
17:27 Torrey Philemon: Yes, George did make the defeat in Parthia really heartrending. And we did get to see Antony as more of a hero......A fit contrast with the pleasure-loving hedonist. He could be really disciplined and committed to his men.
17:27 Morgana Flavius: Comparing now both novels - Moix vs George - I feel that the Memoirs lack some passion, while Moix's "Cleopatra & Antony" is full of that and, in a way, more dramatically enticing.
17:29 Morgana Flavius: I think Octavian intended to gain the upper hand over Antony even before Caesar's death. What I don't understand is why Caesar left Antony out of his will. Antony was not even the second choice, in case Octavian could not inherit!
17:30 Torrey Philemon: Yes, I agree that Memoirs could have a little more passion (you should read Sarah Franklin's Daughter of Troy - Briseis' story during the Trojan war. A great novel with A LOT OF PASSION <-: )
17:31 Torrey Philemon: I do most like the passages in Memoirs where there is real in Olympos' relationship to Cleopatra.
17:33 Morgana Flavius: Well, for passion I don't mean sex scenes... LOL! But some more feeling about things. It seemed like Cleopatra was abandoned by Antony and she just said "uh... well... gee... here goes my second lover, marrying someone else instead of me..."
17:33 Torrey Philemon: About Caesar's will......what I read is that the will that was used was an OLD WILL and that Caesar's most current will wasn't viewed as official. One of his mistakes was that he didn't sufficiently update his will, so the one that was used was   years old. According to Grant, I think. I wonder if in his most current one (I don't know what happened to it) if he had chosen Antony.
17:34 Torrey Philemon: I don't think George's attunement to human emotion is all that good ......sometimes she misses the real dramatic moments and other times she overdramatizes. Like there's a conflict between Antony and Cleopatra which reads more like a bad soap opera. I forget which it is, but it's when she pushes him too far in her ambition for him.  
17:35 Morgana Flavius: While in Moix's novel, Cleopatra have her barge equipped with black sails... lots of people mourning with her, while she sails down the Nile... everybody clothed in funeral outfits... I can imagine that scene in a movie... very dramatic!
17:36 Torrey Philemon: I'll have to read that novel, even though as you said it's overdramatic. But it does appear to introduce another perspective.
17:36 Morgana Flavius: Ah! I didn't know about Caesar's newer wills! That would explain it.
17:37 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I think Moix's novel gives more emphasis on the Eastern way of feeling and reacting to facts. It's very interesting.
17:38 Torrey Philemon: Do you remember the lover's quarrel I'm referring to? I'm trying to find it. I think it's when she demands that Antony marry her and can't understand his loyalty to Octavian. She can't seem to get that he has important political interests apart from her.....that could indeed impact her!
17:38 Morgana Flavius: One thing I like in George, though. It's her very well done homework on historical accuracy. That's something I can appreciate!
17:39 Torrey Philemon enters...
17:39 Torrey Philemon: Yes +++++++
17:39 Torrey Philemon enters...
17:39 Torrey Philemon: My computer+ is acting+ up++++++
17:39 Morgana Flavius: Oh, yes, I remember that said part when Cleopatra wants Antony to marry her. I think I even post about it on the board. A sad soap opera piece, indeed...
17:39 Torrey Philemon: I may have to re+boot. I+'t sput+tin+g wierd punctuation +marks every+where
17:40 Torrey Philemon enters...
17:40 Morgana Flavius: Yes, and there's another interesting part of Antony's character that George seemed to have grasped in her novel.
17:41 Morgana Flavius: I'll wait for you to reboot.
17:41 Torrey Philemon exits...
17:42 Torrey Philemon enters...
17:43 Torrey Philemon: Hello again. I left and returned and hopefully it's better now.
17:43 Torrey Philemon: Which part about Antony's character are you referring to? (I didn't like Cleopatra's character when she was showing off her wealth after their quarrel)
17:45 Morgana Flavius: That's when Cleopatra/George says that Antony seems to draw his behavior from the strongest personality that's closer to him. When he's with Cleopatra, he thinks one thing; when he's near Octavian, he thinks another.
17:46 Torrey Philemon: The lover's quarrel is around pp 494-497......
17:46 Morgana Flavius: Showing off her wealth was part of the game, I suppose. I was only surprised that she left it until the last moment, when she realized Antony was really going back to Rome.
17:47 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I remember that quarrel. I was very disappointed with that poor scene. Not much like Cleopatra!
17:47 Torrey Philemon: Yes, that characterization of Antony sounds very believable. He's very present-moment oriented, and responds well to whoever is front of him. That's probably part of why he was popular with his men. His personality is kind of interesting actually in that he is both pleasure-loving/ indulgent and very strong in his commitments.
17:48 Morgana Flavius: Back to Antony's character, it seems that apart from his natural military leadership, when it comes down to politics, Antony really needs a strong personality to give him the tone of his acts.
17:49 Torrey Philemon: I think Cleopatra felt  desperate when she feared Antony was leaving her .......There's a passage I've been trying to find.... It occurs either just before her first encounter with Antony or before her second encounter, when she admits her fear of opening herself to involvement again. There's also a fascinating reference to the myth of Daphne, and Daphne's fear of awakening her sensuality. Can't find's back aways in the book.
17:50 Torrey Philemon: Yes, Fulvia was a strong personality all right, and in a way, Octavia was too. Somehow he ended up with strong women!
17:50 Morgana Flavius: Right! He has those two sides in his personality: pleasure and commitment to honor. Something not easy to find in historical heroes. The old "grey" areas of a person's life, which we talked about in Dante.
17:51 Torrey Philemon: I always like portrayals of character which have some complexity and occasional contradictions. Most people are like that, indeed.
17:52 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I remember that passage. It's when Cleopatra meets Antony in Antioch, when she goes to see him with a ready-to-use speech about what her terms would be if he wanted to be with her again.
17:52 Torrey Philemon: Here's a question for you.......what would you say was Cleopatra's mistake? And Antony's mistake? The mistakes that led to their downfall (or maybe this comes later in our reading. But the seeds of it start now)
17:54 Morgana Flavius: And Antony strikes first, asking her to marry him. That was interesting. And yet, again I feel the huge gap George left there, not letting us know the intricate paths Antony must have trailed to come to that... How he left Octavia, etc.
17:54 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I have not finished the book yet. :o)
17:55 Morgana Flavius: So far, I don't see the downfall as a consequence of a mistake. It seems to me that it was more a case of bad judgement. I guess both Antony and Cleopatra underestimated Octavian's power.
17:56 Torrey Philemon: Yes Antony's turnaround is mystifying. He not only returns to Cleopatra, he returns after a few years all prepared to marry her.....and to give her even more than she asks. (This may be getting into the next reading part, which I just started). And suddenly Cleopatra doesn't want anymore, she's no longer ambitious.
17:57 Morgana Flavius: From the moment Cleopatra meets Octavian for the first time, in Rome, she does not sympathize with him. She has an emotional response to him. That's the first step towards bad judgement.
17:58 Torrey Philemon: I do see some mistakes, but mistakes related to not facing the reality of Octavian and his power. And putting personal desires first, above fully facing the greater issues. For Antony, part of this was taking seriously the consequences in Rome of his being away for so many years with Cleopatra, leaving Octavian free to gain power over him there.
17:58 Morgana Flavius: But then again, that's George's story. We truly don't know what Cleopatra thought of Octavian, nor what Octavian thought of Cleopatra.
17:59 Morgana Flavius: Being away... yes, that seems to have been a huge mistake. But it works only for Antony. Cleopatra could afford being away for long periods of time and her power in Egypt was always rock solid.
17:59 Torrey Philemon: Cleo is actually quite politically savvy. She's always putting her own agenda for Egypt out there with Antony, making sure she gets what she wants for Egypt. But she can't seem to respect Antony's own political agenda - as his need to keep Herod an ally in Judea. And she doesn't realize the consequences that could result from his further alienating Octavian.
18:01 Torrey Philemon: Yes Cleopatra has trustworthy leaders supporting her when she was away. No one strong enough to undermine her (after the earlier Ptolemy died). But Antony didn't appear to have any strong supporters in Rome, able to counter Octavian........
18:01 Morgana Flavius: But Cleopatra didn't have anyone from her own family left behind... Antony had his family back in Rome, plus Octavian, with whom he was somehow related, not only for the marriage with Octavia. They were cousins (albeit distant).
18:03 Torrey Philemon: Yes originally Antony had Fulvia supporting him. (what other family?) Octavia was  caught in the middle between loyalty to her brother and husband (I really want to tell her story. Can't you imagine a great drama called Antony and Octavia? Unfortunately however the heroine gets abandoned)
18:04 Morgana Flavius: Antony also had his brother Lucius, who was siding with Fulvia when she was alive.
18:05 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I can imagine a good dramatical potential in Antony and Octavia's story.
18:05 Torrey Philemon: After Fulvia dies, who does Antony have supporting him back in Rome? Octavia is his number one supporter, but she's got divided loyalties. 
18:06 Torrey Philemon: What is Antony's reason for being away from Rome so long, apart from Cleopatra? Didn't he have some sense that he was unlucky in Rome, and lucky in the East? But "absentee landlords" generally don't fare too well ......
18:07 Morgana Flavius: Another thing that we miss in George's novel (and again, that's because the story is told from Cleo's point of view) is Octavian's story. He also seems to have been an interesting and complex person. His marriage with Scribonia, his only child Julia, who he banished later. And all that jazz we only slightly touched when we were readng Ovid.
18:08 Torrey Philemon: yes George doesn't give us much characterization of Octavian. He's the distant enemy who suddenly starts maligning Antony. There must be a dramatic moment too when Octavian decides that Antony is the enemy and not an ally/friend/colleague....
18:09 Morgana Flavius: Maybe Antony didn't want to go back to Rome because he would have to act as Octavian's friend in public (for the sake of Caesar, I think). I think Antony, in the end, really wanted to be in the opposite field of Octavian and fight him to win the Empire all by himself (and Cleopatra, of course).
18:09 Torrey Philemon: I wonder if Octavian had any glimmers of awareness that he was setting Antony up when he engineered the marriage to Octavia. Anyone who knew Antony (like Enobarbus) couldn't trust his loyalty to Octavia after his involvement with Cleo.
18:10 Torrey Philemon: Perhaps Antony's temperament was more in harmony with the east. He seemed more at home in the east than in Rome.
18:12 Morgana Flavius: But maybe Octavian knew how to manipulate Antony, and just like Cleopatra, knew that if Antony had a strong person by his side, that person would be more likely to mold his behavior. And of course, Octavian knew the powers of his sister. He just didn't count on Cleopatra's more powerful charms... :o) He must have really hated Cleo!
18:13 Torrey Philemon: Also Cleopatra had a vision of having a huge empire and ruling it with her lover. She seemed to view reality through her desire, and not take the opposition seriously enough. By denying the world that didn't accord with her vision, she wasn't prepared to faced overpowering forces.
18:13 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I agree with that too. Antony seemed to be more comfortable in the East. Again, as I mentioned in my post in the Memoirs board, probably because the East offered a much better scenario for Antony's theatrical performances. ;o)
18:14 Torrey Philemon: Octavian didn' thave any contact with Cleo, did he, since Caesar's death? Cleo left Rome then and didn't encounter Octavian till years later, after defeated. So Octavian's memories of her are from the days of Caesar. He might have viewed her as contributing to Caesar's downfall too.
18:14 Morgana Flavius: Agree with your opinion on Cleopatra's motives too.
18:16 Torrey Philemon: Yes and the east also supported his pleasure-loving temperament. He didn't have to be hypocritical there, like Octavius was, in order to survive. (By the way I saw a great Roman sculpture of a Bacchanalian festival at the Gardner museum today. I could imagine Antony as one of the men in it!)
18:16 Morgana Flavius: Most certainly! Octavian - being the hypocritical moralist - must have found Caesar and Cleopatra's relationship a most shameless challenge to Roman mos maiorum.
18:17 Torrey Philemon: Morgana, what gives you the sense of Antony as having theatrical performances? Are you saying he liked to act, or that his personality was just very theatrical?
18:17 Morgana Flavius: Plus, Bacchic rites, in the East, were part of a mystery cult. The sort of cult that bestows divine and immortal powers over the followers of the god.
18:19 Morgana Flavius: I'm saying he seems to have liked to perform before an audience. He was good at it. Not in a stage, no. But in real life events. Like the Lupercalia festival, where he performed to perfection, offering Caesar the crown. And the Bacchic rites gave him that opportunity too.
18:19 Torrey Philemon: Yes, that's a fascinating part of Antony. His connection to the Dionysian mystical rites. I wonder what that involved.
18:20 Torrey Philemon: I see your point. He was probably a kind of Leo Pisces character! Loving to dramatize. So playing the role of god and goddess with Octavia and then with Cleopatra must have been very appealing.
18:21 Morgana Flavius: I think in Rome, Bacchic rites were more related to wine only. In the East, it was a truly mystery religion, with re-enactments of the death and resurection of the god to the eternal glory.
18:21 Morgana Flavius: Right
18:22 Morgana Flavius: But how do you see Antony, Torrey?
18:23 Morgana Flavius: (I think so far, Antony is the most interesting character to analyze because much is left to speculation.)
18:24 Torrey Philemon: Hmm. The mystery religions were very big in Greece I think but I don't recall their role in Rome. You don't think that the Bacchic rites were as religious there? I'll look into that; it's an interesting subject.
18:26 Torrey Philemon: I do see Antony as a complex personality. Very Jupiterian. Pleasure-loving, generous, openhearted, but caught up in the moment. Very devoted to women/woman, but also to his male friends. Taking his oaths seriously. Alternating between phases in his life of indulgence and more stoic self-denial - a man among men. Whatever he did, he seemed to do completely. All work or all play.
18:27 Morgana Flavius: yeah... I guess that he was like that.
18:28 Torrey Philemon: Supposedly too he was an accomplished athlete, with a physique to match. A true Olympian. But perhaps his emotions and passions ruled over his head. Whereas Octavian "led with his head" and kept his feelings and passions undercover (or acted them out secretly).
18:28 Torrey Philemon: How else do you characterize him, Morgana?
18:29 Torrey Philemon: I like the portrayal of Antony in George and elsewhere as part Herculean, part Dionysian. That really fits.
18:29 Morgana Flavius: Who, Octavian or Antony?
18:30 Torrey Philemon: Hercules was also a devotee of Dionysius (By the way, the four hour tv movie of Jason and the Argonauts that just premiered here was wonderful! Hercules was a main character, and a really enjoyable part was the portrayal of Hera and Zeus and their relationship, interfering from the clouds. )
18:31 Torrey Philemon: I think George refers to Antony as Herculean and Dionysian. The biographies I'm reading mention that too. He identifies with both throughout his life and uses the insignias of both.
18:31 Morgana Flavius: Ah... I'd like to see that Jason tv movie! And also Gladiator, which everyone seems to be talking about here in AS. But none of them have been released here yet.
18:32 Torrey Philemon: I know you don't really like Antony. What is your main objection to him, Morgana? (Certainly he's not as intelligent or educated as Cleopatra!)
18:33 Torrey Philemon: (Gladiator's supposed to be the bloodiest, most violent film ever made. I don't think I'm going to see it......On the other hand, Spartacus keeps replaying on tv, and that's an excellent film, with a powerful story)
18:33 Morgana Flavius: Yes, Herculean and Dionyssian. It reminds me of a particularly amusing passage in the Memoirs, where Alexander and Selene (the twin children of Cleo and Antony) are behaving a bit histerically and Olympus gets in saying something like "Dionysian behavior!"
18:35 Morgana Flavius: Well, Antony is just not my type of guy. That's all. :o)
18:36 Torrey Philemon: Olympus is a great character. He is to Cleopatra like Enobarbus is to Antony in the A&C 1974 movie.
18:37 Morgana Flavius: I guess I am not very comfortably with men who like to perform. I think I'd never know when they really mean what they're doing. :o)
18:37 Torrey Philemon: Sometimes you'll have to tell us about your type of guy, Morgana. More of a Caesar? Certainly not an Aeneas I hope!
18:37 Torrey Philemon: Ahh! And rulers are generally performers!
18:38 Torrey Philemon: (There's some segment on the news right now about Sister Lucia and the story of Fatima - right now!)
18:38 Morgana Flavius: Yes, Olympus seems to be the key man in this novel, after all. Up to the part I am reading, he's still keeping a low profile. But I guess more is coming and then, let's see how I like him. :o)
18:39 Morgana Flavius: Aeneas? Not in a million years! Yuck!
18:39 Torrey Philemon: (The Vatican today revealed the third secret of Fatima. I missed what they said about Lucia)
18:39 Morgana Flavius: No, not Caesar... Maybe Olympus, but I have to flirt more with him before commiting myself. LOL!
18:40 Torrey Philemon: Well I don't care for Aeneas either! The Roman ideal of hero is not appealing to me! Keep women in their place seems to be a big part of it.......the patriarchy above all!
18:40 Torrey Philemon: Yes, Olympus does appear to be endearing!
18:41 Morgana Flavius: Ah... Sister Lucia was one of the 3 children in Fatima who saw the Virgin Mary. I think I had heard about the third secret being revealed before...
18:41 Torrey Philemon: Come to think of it, most Greek and Roman heroes aren't  trustworthy. Jason, Theseus, Odysseus. Probably Orpheus is the most sensitive soul (He was portrayed beautifully as a black musician in the Jason movie). I like Orpheus type men.
18:42 Morgana Flavius: Caesar seems to have been a selfish man... Antony, too impulsive and unpredictable. Olympus seems to have been the most centered guy.
18:43 Morgana Flavius: Ah yes, Orpheus seemed to have been a nice guy... but then again... most think turned to be gay after he lost Euridice... :o)
18:44 Torrey Philemon: (Here's the news story: Vatican reveals secrets of Fatima today 
18:44 Morgana Flavius: So, after Euridice, nothing for the rest of us, women. :o)
18:45 Torrey Philemon: (Sorry I have the tv on the background and got distracted by the news)
18:46 Torrey Philemon: I never heard that Orpheus turned out to be gay!
18:47 Morgana Flavius: I will have to go in 15 minutes or so, Torrey. (Thanks for the link!) I was wondering if our chats do not attract people due to the fact we're taking too long between them... (That's mostly my fault)
18:49 Morgana Flavius: Don't you remember, when we were reading about him in Ovid? That he preferred the company of boys, rather than women and was killed for that?
18:49 Torrey Philemon: I don't know what the problem is, Morgana. Not many people have been posting about Cleopatra on our board. But also it's now spring and beautiful weather in most of the U.S. for the first time in months. Maybe weekends aren't good times for meetings now.
18:49 Torrey Philemon: (No, I didn't remember Ovid on Eurydice. But I am intrigued by how the movie What Dreams May Come is a takeoff on the Orpheus Eurydice story)
18:51 Torrey Philemon: At least a few people besides us are posting about Cleopatra, although sporadically. And Cornellia had a nice addition today (about Cleopatra in Egypt). I asked her what was the best source about Cleopatra in relation to her people and she mentioned (have to look it up)....
18:51 Torrey Philemon: The Search for Cleopatra by Foss (she said has the least Roman propaganda about Cleopatra in it)
18:52 Morgana Flavius: Yes, because Orpheus descended to Hades to rescue Eurydice. But he fails when she looks back to him... after that, he starts to play flute and refuses the company of women, being surrounded by boys all the time. Women got mad about that and killed him.
18:53 Torrey Philemon: Ah yes, now I remember. He was torn apart by Bacchanalians....and the Muses mourned him.
18:54 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I read Cornellia's post. It was very good!
18:54 Torrey Philemon: Anything else you want to add before we end? (At least it's always stimulating conversing with you Morgana, whether anyone else shows up or not!)
18:55 Morgana Flavius: Thank you, Torrey! I feel the same about talking to you! And no, I don't have anything to say for now. I am looking forward to finish the Memoirs.
18:56 Torrey Philemon: When do you want to do our last chat? Finishing the book? Three weeks? Four weeks? And should we choose a weekday night maybe?
18:57 Morgana Flavius: Right now anyday is good for me. I think I'll need 3 weeks to finish the book and have our last chat.
18:58 Torrey Philemon: I teach most weekday nights but not every night the first week in June. Maybe that's a good time. It would have to be Monday or Tuesday probably.
19:00 Torrey Philemon: Maybe I'll ask on our board and also find out who's still interested in continuing.
19:00 Morgana Flavius: Sounds good for me.
19:00 Morgana Flavius: Alright. But let's keep the first week of June in mind.
19:00 Torrey Philemon: It's a shame we lost our Egyptian contingent. They would have added an interesting perspective, and also the context of Egytian society.
19:01 Morgana Flavius: Exactly! I kind of miss that. (the ever contextual Morgana) :o)
19:01 Torrey Philemon: Actually that first week in June is terrible for me because I have to develop two new 8 hour trainings for the last two days of that week. The previous week or next week is better.....but I'll just pose the question on our board.........Anyway, glad you came today!
19:02 Torrey Philemon: Have a nice evening! (I guess I can't tell you happy  springtime.....if for you it's late fall!)
19:03 Morgana Flavius: Ok. Second week is good for me too, although after that I might be gone for a while. Planning on some little vacation. :o)
19:04 Torrey Philemon: Just make sure you plan a vacation next year for early May in Italy <-:  (If I CAN go, my plane ticket will only be good until May 15.....!)
19:04 Morgana Flavius: A happy evening for you too! And here in the Equatorial area, we don't have fall nor spring. It's either dry or rainy season. It's the middle of the rainy season now. :o)
19:05 Morgana Flavius: Oh, yes! Italy is always in my plans! *wink*
19:05 Torrey Philemon: Rainy season is a great time for reading. Enjoy........and goodnight!
19:06 Morgana Flavius: Bye Torrey!
19:06 Torrey Philemon: Arrivederci!
19:06 Morgana Flavius exits...
19:06 Torrey Philemon exits...

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