I enjoy the Oxford Shakespeare Company’s production of “Anthony and Cleopatra” in the gardens of Trinity College. Trinity at dusk looks more like a stately home than a college.
The production of this perennially moving play was professional and gripping–the story of a gifted soldier and politician who finds deeper satisfaction in lust/love than in soldiership, empire, fame and wealth in competition with Octavius Caesar who was cold-bloodedly and whole-heartedly focused on his own success and advancement. As C.S. Lewis often says, at some level, people do get what they whole-heartedly seek; someone as single-mindedly focused on Empire and power would be far more likely to achieve in that one with Anthony’s divided distracted heart.
Single-mindedness, whole-hearted pursuit of one’s goals sadly achieves more than giftedness. Giftedness without discipline and focus gets one nowhere, whereas work and focus make up for the lack of giftedness. So therein is hope for everyone, and a cautionary tale for the gifted!
Though Anthony was a nobler, kinder, better human being than Caesar the fact that Caesar would win their power struggle was an inevitable and foregone conclusion. Whereas Anthony, the more interesting person, was swayed by pride, lust, loyalty,emotion, honour, Caesar was cold-blooded and rational, and governed by his head rather than his emotions, and he was indeed the man the Roman Empire needed.