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Shakespeare's Representation of Weather, Climate and EnvironmentThe Early Modern 'Fated Sky'$
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Sophie Chiari

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442527

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442527.001.0001

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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: 17 September 2021

Clime and Slime in Anthony and Cleopatra

Clime and Slime in Anthony and Cleopatra

(p.176) Chapter 6 Clime and Slime in Anthony and Cleopatra
Shakespeare's Representation of Weather, Climate and Environment

Sophie Chiari

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 6 analyses Anthony and Cleopatra (1606-07) in connection with the Lucretian philosophy already at work in King Lear. Indeed, Shakespeare’s ‘Epicurean’ (2.1.24) vision of the weather, which operates in the play’s subtext, suggests that the atomism already displayed in previous works underpins the playwright’s obvious concerns about climate and the environment. Questions such as the infinite, the void and the flux in particular are major concerns in this Roman play obsessed with shifting shapes and the dissolution of living beings. The destructive yet paradoxically creative power of the Nile provides a rich background for the tragedy, and it is in this hot and moist context that the playwright calls attention to Cleopatra’s intimate meteorology and bodily humours. While climate is mainly present in a number of geo-humoral features characterizing the lovers, a rich system of cosmological references runs through the text, suggesting that the title parts are not just lovers but also explorers of the world’s celestial forces. It is no mere coincidence that Anthony’s famous tirade on clouds, representative as it is of the centrality of celestial issues in this tragedy, should coincide with the poetic and dramatic climax of the play.

Keywords:   Anthony and Cleopatra, heaven, cosmos, earth, slime, mud, clouds, Epicure

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