Temporality and Beauty in Antony and Cleopatra
This essay shows how, in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, the relation between the protagonists can be seen as an insurmountable contrast between two different cultures – on the one hand, the “diurnal” and “rational” culture of Rome and, on the other hand, the “nocturnal” and “passionate” culture of Egypt –, but also as an opposition between two different ways of understanding the relation between illusion and reality, appearance and truth, and thus between theatre and life. More specifically, what emerges is the awareness that art, embodied in Cleopatra’s beauty, constantly reminds us of the unredeemable finitude and transience of the human being, who is inevitably immersed in time. In this light, if art is able to become a manifestation of truth, the fact remains that such truth, as final sense, is something that art can “show”, but only to indicate its perpetually elusive character. It is indeed a truth which, like the indecipherable secret kept in the Mausoleum, cannot be “told” or “represented” once and for all.
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