One of the most well-known marriages, Antony and Cleoparta is the story of two real historical individuals who have also been immortalised in Shakespeare’s play named after the pair. The plot of the play was based on the English translation of Plutarch’s Lives, which was translated from Ancient Greek by Thomas North in 1597. The play takes place between the Sicilian revolts up until Cleopatra’s suicide during the Final War of the Roman Republic. Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, there is large focus on the antagonist, Octavius Caesar, the first empire of the Roman Empire. The play has typically always drawn mixed reviews from critics, largely depending on their feelings towards Cleopatra herself, but also because the play doesn’t neatly fit into a specific genre, being a blend between historic, tragedy, comedy, and romance.
The true story of Antony and Cleopatra differs from the play, although to what degree will depend on which historian is to be believed. It is not believed that Antony and Cleopatra changed the world in any profound way through their actions, especially compared to both Caesar and Augustus. Ancient writers from that era claimed that Caesar’s campaigns had manage to cause the death of one million people, and the enslavement of many more times that number. Antony and Cleopatra proved themselves to be just as ruthless in their pursuits, but since they did not win their civil war their level of infamy was reduced. There are many who believe that Cleopatra was committed to the welfare of her subjects, but almost all official accounts reject this notion and all she was interested in was securing taxation in order to hold onto her power.