The Pagan World in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra


Author: PENG Lei, Vice Professor, School of Liberal Arts, Renmin University of China .


Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra recounts a historical story of the late Roman republic period. It contains many biblical references, alluding to the birth of Christ and the coming of apocalypse, thus constructs a Christian background, and deliberately compares Christian and Pagan thoughts on the relationship between human and god, suicide, and eros. By a close reading and analysis of the text, this paper argues that Antony and Cleopatra demonstrates the end of pagan world and the beginning of Christian world, in which one can see Shakespeare’s high respect to the pagan world. What is more, Shakespeare has also learnt a classical understanding of politics and love from the Roman pagan world, which he exhibited in Antony and Cleopatra.


Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare, Roman plays, pagan

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