What are the claims of love? What are the claims of loyalty? Of statecraft? Of honor? What if answering one claim means betraying or denying another? Such are the questions posed by Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt, and Antony, one of the rulers of ancient Rome, are in love, and every element of that love challenges their safety, and their worldly success. They do not belong together. She is a Greek-Egyptian. He is Roman. She rules by fiat, he by law. He is part of an unstable ruling triumvirate and can ill afford distraction. She has earlier risked her kingdom for another Roman, Julius Caesar. They kindle each other’s passions, so reason is put aside. And her femaleness: is it a weapon? a weakness? Does his maleness signal strength or stupidity? How does the play view Egypt? Rome? “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety,” says Enobarbus of Cleopatra. Let’s see whether he’s right.
Cammy Thomas has published three books of poems with Four Way Books. The most recent is Tremors (2021). Her two previous poetry collections are Inscriptions, and Cathedral of Wish, which won the Norma Farber first Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Cammy earned a PhD in English from the University of California, Berkeley, with a dissertation on the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. She has taught literature and creative writing for many years, and lives in Bolton, MA.