In Our Effort to Study Shakespeare, Let's Not Neglect History
Your Jan. 19 editorial on Shakespeare ("Shakespeare's infinite variety") bemoans, as I do, the dropping of the great bard from required reading for English majors in many of our colleges and universities. However, you flunk both Shakespeare and history with your comments on "Antony and Cleopatra." You state that the Egyptian queen "insists on leading her own navy, headed by her lover Antony, into the battle against Julius Caesar, emperor of Rome and her former lover."
Julius Caesar was dead at the time of the battle in both the play and in history. Don't you remember a young Antony delivering the funeral oration ("Friends, Romans, Countrymen") in a previous play cleverly titled "Julius Caesar"? Antony went on to be one-third of a triumvirate that ruled Rome, along with Lepidus and Octavian, after routing the forces of Brutus and Cassius. That's why Antony is middle-aged and such a big shot at the time of the action in "Antony and Cleopatra."
Your confusion is probably due to the many references to Octavian in the play as "Caesar. …