Cleopatra In Cassius Dio's Augustus On Cleopatra

Words: 550
Pages: 3

Cassius Dio’s ‘Augustus on Cleopatra’ is a fictional speech from Octavian’s perspective given to the soldiers of Rome before the battle of Actium. Horace’s Ode 1.37 was written as a thought-inducing exploration of feeling, giving us a rare insight into how Roman citizens at the time may have felt towards Cleopatra. (Fear, 2008, p. 12)

Dio inaugurates the conflict between Rome and Egypt in his first sentence, (Reading 1.1 in Fear, 2008, p. 27) rapidly developing the rhetoric for the rest of the speech. Rome is presented as a powerful country of rulers who, despite their strength and standing as a nation, are being repudiated by Cleopatra.

In Horace’s poem, Cleopatra remains nameless throughout. She is introduced as ‘the mad queen’ (Reading
…show more content…
In striking difference to both Dio’s entirely negative rhetoric and his own first verses, Horace declares Rome’s aim to have Cleopatra ‘put in chains.’
He compares her to a ‘gentle dove,’ a prey animal being stalked and hunted. The juxtaposition of prey and ‘monster’ in the next line may suggest Horace’s confliction between the propaganda-fuelled ideas of Cleopatra he has been fed (Fear, 2008, p. 7) versus his own ideas and opinions, influenced by her succeeding actions.

In the last verses, he determines his mind-set. She accepts her defeat but not her fateful demise, which would have surely been ignominious and ‘savage.’ Instead, she chooses to return to her palace and face death on her own terms. Horace compliments her lack of ‘woman’s fear’ and considers her to be ‘brave.’

Dio focuses more on the threat she posed before the commencement of the Battle of Actium, so his descriptions of Cleopatra are all adverse. Ode 1.37 is based after Cleopatra’s death and thus, the threat has passed. Horace’s writing concentrates more on description and reflection. It includes positive and negative discussion of both Cleopatra and Rome, rather than a one-sided ad