A quote from Antony’s biography by Roman historian Plutarch ‘her beauty, so we are told, was not of that incomparable kind’ describes Cleopatra as not a very attractive and beautiful woman. Another quote from Plutarch’s work ‘there was an attraction in her person and her talk’ is comparable to Cassius Dio depiction that her desirability came from the charm of her personality and the tone of her voice rather than her physical appearance. Plutarch also characterized Cleopatra the same way as Dio as a manipulative, daring woman who has a capability to charm and capture people with the strong power of her personality. It is clear that Plutarch and Dio disagreed about Cleopatra’s beauty but agreed on her skills and personality.
In the first part of Ode 1.37, Roman poet Horace used harsh language and portrayed Cleopatra in a very hostile way. With a use of negative imagery such as ‘mad queen’, ‘crazed with hope’ and ‘drunk with sweet fortune’ Horace’s depiction of Cleopatra as a crazy queen drunken with ambition to destroy Rome is very similar to Cassius Dio’s portrayal. They both characterized Cleopatra as an ambitious and determine ruler. Towards the end of the Ode, there is a significant change in his attitude towards Cleopatra. In quotes ‘fiercer she was in the death she chose’ and ‘to be a humble woman in a proud triumph’ Horace depicted Cleopatra as a dignified and courageous woman who desires to die as a queen. Unlike in Cassius Dio’s work, Horace’s unmistakable condemnation and criticism of Cleopatra becomes a great admiration. Horace’s attitude to Cleopatra is not directly unreceptive as Dio’s and Plutarch works might lead us to believe.
Word count: 506