Is it Fact or Fiction?

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Caesar and Cleopatra by Bernard Shaw was in many ways contradictory to the facts of Roman history. Cleopatra's discription was inacurrate. According to Shaw, Cleopatra was 16 years old. In reality, she was about 20-21 years old. Shaw's assumption of Cleopatra's age somewhat explains the level of her maturity at the beginning of the play. Her immaturity is shown when she says to Caesar, "You must not be disrespectful to me, or the sphinx will let the Romans eat you"(27. act 1). One is not very mature if he/she believes that another human being would eat them. In reality Cleopatra was indeed a very mature woman. She was very intelligent and highly educated. The meeting place of Caesar and Cleopatra in the play was also totally inacurrate. They met at the paw of a spinx in Syria. Cleopatra was sleeping on the paw and Caesar's voice awakend her. In reality, Caesar and Cleopatra met in Alexandria. Cleopatra knew of Caesar's arrival in Alexandria and had herself sent to him. She had herself wrapped into a rug and delivered to him as a gift.Click Historical Background.

In the play Shaw also totally screens out Caesar's feelings for Cleopatra. Shaw gives the audience the feeling that Ceasar had no romantic feelings for Cleopatra. Caesar felt the same for everyone. He hated no one and he loved no one. This is evident in these words of Cleopatra in the play. "He has no hatred in him: he makes friends with everyone as he does with dogs and children. His kindness is not for anything in me: it is in his own nature"(93:act 1v). Caesar was a kind man to everyone. In his will, he left a tremendous amount of money to the people of Rome. Caeasar also did have romantic feelings for Cleopatra. Caesar took a vacation with Cleopatra. He and she sailed down the Nile River. One would probably not sail the Nile with an aquaintance. Cleopatra also had a child which she named after Caesar. The time between the meeting of Caesar and Cleopatra and the birth of the child clearly makes it possible for Caesar to be the father. Caesars actions in the play were also unrealistic. For example on page 81 act 1. Caesar decided to save Cleopatra and let Britannus stay at the lighthouse and wait for help. One would probably take Britannus and leave Cleopatra because if something happend, Britannus would have been more capable of helping.

The film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor was more accurate than the play Caesar and Cleopatra. The chronological order of the movie and the things that happend were fairly accurate. Cleopatra's and Caesar's physical appearances were not accurate. In the movie, Elizabeth Taylor was obviously a beautiful woman. She wore very detailed makeup and had numerous headresses.

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Cleopatra was not a very beautiful woman. She was not as glamarous as Elizabeth Taylor was in the movie. Cleopatra wanted to look more "Roman" than Egyptian. In fact she only dressed as an Egyptian when she represented Egypt in governmental affairs.

The movie gives one the idea that Caesar's and Antony's attraction to Cleopatra was physical. It was her intelligence that attracted these two men to her. Caesar was also a very intelligent man. He was a great leader and an outstanding general. This is evident in the scene when Caesar arrives in Alexandria. He is expected to command his men to attack the market people of Egypt in order to make his way to the palace. He knew he was expected to do this, so he did the opposite. Towards the end of the film Caesar's inteligence began to deteriorate. He began making unwise decisions. His unwise decision to attend his last senate meeting (though he did not know) resulted in his death.