|A Fayum portrait of an unknown man.|
Let’s be honest. The enduring fascination with Cleopatra centers around her supposed beauty. After all, the thinking goes, she “snagged” two of the most powerful men of her era—Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. She HAD to be beautiful, right?
Yet, as I’ve explained in previous posts, the busts and coins bearing her image show her as attractive but not necessarily beautiful. Truth is, her looks likely had little to do with her liaisons with Caesar and Antony. It’s more likely they “fell in love/lust” with her great wealth and her kingdom’s strategic value in controlling trade.
|Richard Burton as Mark Antony.|
But how boring is that?
So we continue to fantasize that Cleopatra was one hot mamma. Julius Caesar, we know, was fifty-two when he first met the twenty-two year old Queen of Egypt, so we tend to give him a pass in the looks department.
But Mark Antony was younger when he hooked up with Cleopatra. And so, in movies, plays and television, he is often depicted as hot in his own right—either as handsome and charismatic as Richard Burton (in the 1963 movie, above) or as pretty as James Purefoy in HBO’s ROME (below).
|James Purefoy as Antony in HBO's Rome|
But are we doing to Antony what we’ve done to Cleopatra all these centuries—are we making him “hot” just to add spice to the story?
Hollywood continues to worship physical attractiveness over the truths of history. So if the gorgeous Angelina Jolie can play the somewhat plain but brilliant Cleopatra, why not have a magnificent specimen of manhood play Mark Antony?
|The "real" Mark Antony according to a first century bust.|
They’ll sell more tickets that way.
Which of course, begs the question—which hunk will they cast opposite Jolie to play Mark Antony? Any guesses?