The plays were companion pieces, with Sidney's relation to Daniel's Cleopatra exemplifying female 'devisership', a term proposed by Peter Davidson and Jane Stevenson for the extensive cultural activities of early modern elite women which are not adequately described by the terms 'authorship' or 'patronage'.
Both Antonius and Cleopatra belong to the genre designated by modern critics (sometimes dismissively) as 'closet drama': plays, often neoclassical and elevated in tone, designed for reading aloud or private performance or something in-between among a privileged circle of family and friends in a domestic setting.
(13) Hannay, having previously averred that 'a stageable Antonius would have taxed the resources of the Wilton household', now feels in the light of recent research that both Antonius and Daniel's Cleopatra could have been staged in private settings.
Cleopatra first appeared as a literary character in the West, dating as far back as classical Roman literature.
Silver Age Obsession with Pushkin's Cleopatra as a Cultural Phenomenon
Cleopatra, actually Cleopatra VII, was born in Egypt in 69 BCE and committed suicide on August 10, 30 BCE She was a descendent of Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great's generals, who created a royal dynasty that ruled Egypt for 300 years.
Now Mexican novelist Carmen Boullosa has reinterpreted Cleopatra in Cleopatra Dismounts.
On the other hand, in tragedies of "mutuality" (e.g., King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra
) the pattern works more in the manner of the festive comedies, presenting "multiple plots and centers of consciousness" in which the protagonists "move toward a bonding so profound that death seems less a severance than a consummation of a relationship" (56-57).
It is characteristic of Antony and Cleopatra that Shakespeare keeps close in places even to the wording of the source:
He, either to please Cleopatra, or else for that he founde it so by his art, told Antonius plainly, that his fortune (which of it selfe was excellent good, and very great) was altogether bleamished, and obscured by Caesar's fortune: and therefore he counselled him utterly to leave his company and to get him as farre from him as he could.
The most vivid near-contemporary interpretation of Cleopatra is a fictional account.
Cleopatra's story was naturally interwoven with theirs.