Death Becomes Her: The Suicide of Cleopatra in Literature and Art

寫給當代的經典III Classics for Today III
Death Becomes Her: The Suicide of Cleopatra in Literature and Art
講者 Speaker: Robert Gurval

在西方文化中,每當提及既著名又難忘的死亡場面,無論是文學、戲劇或視覺藝術,總不缺埃及豔后克麗奧佩脫拉(Cleopatra)自殺這一幕。而這個故事主要取材自普魯塔克(Plutarch)撰寫的馬克安東尼(Mark Anthony)傳記。克麗奧佩脫拉的自殺由欺騙、謀慮及死亡三大主題構成,高潮則當然是蛇吻一刻。本講座檢閱文學及視覺藝術中有關克麗奧佩脫拉自殺的代表作,從何瑞斯(Horace)寫的抒情詩《克麗奧佩脫拉賦》(Cleopatra Ode),到HBO有線電視網絡的「羅馬」系列,探討自殺於古典時代及其後世代的強大象徵意義。本講座亦嘗試討論克麗奧佩脫拉最後之舉──蛇吻──能否為她帶來救贖及飛越長生。

The suicide of Cleopatra has bequeathed to western culture one of the most famous and memorable death scenes in literature, drama and the visual arts of painting, sculpture and film. The traditional story derives chiefly from the rich narrative of Plutarch’s biography of Mark Antony. Its action is driven by multiple themes of deception, deliberation, and death. The climactic moment, of course, is the bite of the asp. Surveying the literary and visual representations of Cleopatra’s dramatic death, from Horace’s celebrated Cleopatra Ode to the HBO cable network series Rome, this lecture will explore the potent symbolism of the suicide in classical antiquity and subsequent eras. It will try to answer the question whether her final act of dying by the serpent’s bite redeems Cleopatra and death becomes her.