Arts·Photos

Who is Cleopatra? Shakespeare quotes that'll make you bow down

The Stratford Festival's production of Antony and Cleopatra is coming to CBC Sunday. Preview the show with this gallery and a round-up of Shakespeare's most famous quotes about the original female pharoah.

The Stratford Festival's production of Antony and Cleopatra is coming to CBC Sunday

Yanna McIntosh as Cleopatra in the Stratford Festival's production of Antony and Cleopatra. “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety." Yas queen. (Stratford Festival)

Bow down. Pop stars like Beyonce call themselves King, but Shakespeare's Cleopatra was the original female Pharaoh. Beautiful, seductive, fiery, but above all, shrewdly powerful. And Sunday, Sept. 20 on CBC TV, Yanna McIntosh portrays the Egyptian queen in the Stratford Festival's Antony and Cleopatra with Geraint Wyn Davies as her beloved Roman general.

McIntosh's Cleopatra is a boss: passionate, sexually manipulative, but always in control. It's a character that's been discussed over centuries, producing interpretations, in the words of the Bard, of "infinite variety." 

Who is Cleopatra? We've selected some of the most famous quotes from the play, poetry that describes her beauty, her sexual power and her larger-than-life command. Quotes that'll make you say, "Yas, Queen." Preview Sunday's Stratford production with these images from the show.

"For her own person,
It beggared all description; she did lie
In her pavilion — cloth-of-gold of tissue —
O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature."

"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety."

"That time — Oh, times!
I laughed him out of patience, and that night
I laughed him into patience. And next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed,
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan."

"Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her."

"Our courteous Antony,
Whom ne'er the word of 'No' woman heard speak,
Being barbered ten times o'er, goes to the feast,
And for his ordinary pays his heart
For what his eyes eat only."

"I saw her once
Hop forty paces through the public street;
And having lost her breath, she spoke, and panted
That she did make defect perfection,
And, breathless, power breathe forth."

"Give me my robe, put on my crown
I have Immortal longings in me."

"My resolution's placed, and I have nothing
Of woman in me. Now from head to foot
I am marble-constant. Now the fleeting moon
No planet is of mine."

"I am fire and air; my other elements
I give to baser life."

Watch Antony and Cleopatra starring Yanna McIntosh and Geraint Wyn Davies, Sept. 20 at 3pm on CBC TV or stream it online.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.