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Ovid and Adaptation in Early Modern English Theatre$
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Lisa S. Starks

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474430067

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430067.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

“Let Rome in Tiber melt”: Hermaphroditic Transformation in Antonius and Antony and Cleopatra

“Let Rome in Tiber melt”: Hermaphroditic Transformation in Antonius and Antony and Cleopatra

Chapter:
(p.75) Chapter 4 “Let Rome in Tiber melt”: Hermaphroditic Transformation in Antonius and Antony and Cleopatra
Source:
Ovid and Adaptation in Early Modern English Theatre
Author(s):

Deborah Uman

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430067.003.0005

This essay uses Ovid’s tale of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus as a vehicle for considering the connections between the theme of gender fluidity and the practice of literary transformations in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Mary Sidney Herbert’s translation of Robert Garnier’s Antonius. The characters in both versions demonstrate the desire for and resistance to transformation, presenting a worldview that parallels Hermaphroditus’s own contradictory hatred of his disempowering metamorphosis and his prayer for anyone who bathes in Salmacis’s fountain to be similarly changed. This contradictory interpretation of the union of opposites serves as a lens through which to understand both plays, which fluctuate between anxieties over female power and recognition of the loss of clear markers distinguishing men and women, Rome and Egypt, conqueror and conquered, original and imitation. The two plays finally reject notions of masculine rigidity in favor of a more flexible view of gender and artistic creativity.

Keywords:   Hermaphroditus, translation, gender fluidity, Mary Sidney Herbert, Shakespeare, Ovid, Antony and Cleopatra, Antonius

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