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ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
aka Love and Death in Alexandria


EPISODE No. 108
Season 5, episode 18
Series 518
1st release: 04/24/00
2nd release:
Production number: V0904
Approximate shooting dates: February 2000
Last update: 06-05-01


GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
PROMO TRANSCRIPTION
TV GUIDE PROMO
SYNOPSIS 1 by Bluesong
SYNOPSIS 2 by John Wignall
COMMENTARY 1 BY Beth the Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 BY Videntur
COMMENTARY 3 BY Beboman
COMMENTARY 4 BY Philip Teo
MILK BATHS AND ASPS
SO WHO IS THIS CLEOPATRA CHICK?
SO WHO IS THIS AUGUSTUS DUDE?
GREEK AMONG ROMANS IN CLEOPATRA'S TIME
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
MORE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
TRANSCRIPT
LINKS


GUEST STARS

CAST
Jon Bennet (Marc Antony)
Josephine Davison (Cleopatra)
David Franklin (Brutus)
Mark Warren (Octavius)
Mariama Smith (Shiana)

CREDITS
Written by Carl Ellsworth
Revision by R. J. Stewart
Directed by Michael Hurst


PROMO TRANSCRIPTION
ON AN ALL NEW XENA...
(Cleopatra disrobes, and Xena appears, disguised as her)
AN EPIC STORY OF INTRIGUE...
(Antony walks on a map of the world, shots of Brutus and Xena)
Gab: If Brutus is right, Xena, Antony may try to kill you.
(A bomb flies into Cleopatra's bedroom as Xena holds Octavius down)
...AND ASSASSINATION.
(Xena dives to avoid bombs as they set tapestries on fire)
A PASSIONATE STORY OF DECEPTION...
(Antony kicks a carpet which unrolls to reveal Xena, naked and in chains)
Xena: I am Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.
(Antony unlocks Xena's chains)
...AND BETRAYAL.
(Gab walks toward Xena, sitting on the Pharaoh's throne)
Gab: The trap's been set.
(Xena outside, looking at the stars)
Soldier: Brutus! The Egyptians are attacking our fleet!
Brutus: What?!
THE LEGENDARY STORY OF ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA...
(Shots of Xena and Antony eating together, laying together, and holding hands over the map of the world. One shot of Xena in her regular costume.)
...ON AN ALL NEW XENA!


TV GUIDE PROMO
When Cleopatra is murdered, Xena assumes her identity to uncover the assassin and protect Egypt. Logline.

When Cleopatra is murdered, Xena assumes the Egyptian queen's identity, all of which can mean only one thing--bring on the love slaves! Entertainment Weekly

Xena goes under cover as Cleopatra to flush out an assassin, after the Egyptian queen is murdered. ClickTV

Xena has encountered Cleopatra before. In this hour, though, she impersonates her - starting with an entrance that ranks among the sexiest and sassiest scenes this series has ever presented. Daily News (N.Y.)

Apparently, being a warrior princess isn't enough anymore, as Xena impersonates Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Entertainment Weekly

SYNOPSIS 1:

This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Cleopatra gets a milk bath. She is especially close to one of her "servants", Shiana. Men come in and tell her that Marc Antony and Brutus both want her navy for their own unscrupulous purposes. The men go away. Someone brings Cleopatra a scroll. She opens it, and her breast is pierced by two darts. She hands something to Shiana and tells her to get it to Xena. She dies.

Xena and Gabrielle say it's too bad Eve is in Alexandria with Cyrene; she'd love the view. Xena says she has to do this, she owes Cleopatra.

Marc Antony and a commander discuss taking over Rome. They are interrupted by a "gift" from Cleopatra, a rolled-up carpet. Antony unrolls the carpet, and a naked and chained Xena, now playing Cleopatra, comes out. She says she is Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, and slave of Rome. She is all chained up. She kisses Antony, and puts a key in his mouth. He unlocks her chains and then gives her a blanket. Xena/Cleopatra invites him to her place.

Brutus appears at the palace, demanding to see Cleopatra. Gabrielle comes forward, dressed as an Egyptian. Brutus recognizes her; he can't believe she is alive and survived the crucifixion. He heads off to see Cleopatra. Xena, meanwhile, and become Xena again and she talks to Brutus and tells him he can't see Cleopatra right now. Brutus says he is glad Xena and Gabrielle are well.

Xena/Cleo bathes in milk. She introduces Gabrielle to Antony as "Aris, my companion". She invites Antony to bathe with her, but he declines, and says something about trust.

A shadowy person climbs into Xena/Cleo's bedroom. Xena/Cleo takes the guy down. He says he isn't an assassin. Fire bombs are tossed into the room. The guy nearly burns up but Xena/Cleo saves him. The guy is Octavius, adopted son of Julius Caesar. Antony arrives and helps put out the fire.

Gabrielle takes Xena aside and asks her what her plan is. She wants to know if she is going to flirt Antony to death. A scene of grape-feeding and strawberry dipping, to the music of Carnival, by Natalie Merchant, from the album Tiger Lily. Xena/Cleo and Antony kiss. Gabrielle watches, finally marches over and tells Xena/Cleo she has a meeting with her advisors.

Xena and Gabrielle discuss Xena's feelings for Antony. Xena says she has no real feelings for him. Xena receives a flower from Antony, and an invitation to join him under the stars. Xena says she has him right where she wants him.

Xena goes to meet Antony. Xena/Cleo asks him why he came to Egypt. She says for her navy. Antony says he doesn't want her navy, he wants her love. They kiss. They go horizontal. They are interrupted by attacking guys with swords. Antony fights while Xena/Cleo only knocks out one guy. Xena/Cleo tells Antony not to kill the survivor, she tells him to go to Brutus and tell him that she and Antony are alive and well and together.

Gabrielle goes to Octavius, who is in the dungeon. He sheds tears. He wants to correct Julius Caesar's errors and bring peace.

Xena watches the moon. Gabrielle comes in. Xena says she has a soft spot for bad boys. Xena wonders if Antony and Octavius can work together. Xena/Cleo and Antony talk about how he will kill all of Brutus' men, even the common soldiers. Antony says Octavius cannot be allowed to live to be a good man. Xena/Cleo tells Antony to take her navy. She says, "I know that you love me." She tells Antony that Brutus is sailing down the Nile; if he fights him there, her navy will back him up and they will crush Brutus together.

Brutus gets a call to see Cleopatra. Brutus sees that Xena is playing Cleopatra. Xena says Brutus killed Cleopatra. He doesn't deny it. Xena/Cleo tells Brutus that she knows Antony will betray her. She tells him to go down the Nile and attack Antony; her navy will back him up. Gabrielle says she will go with Brutus when he says he doesn't trust Xena. Gabrielle tells Xena that maybe she won't have to kill Antony.

Antony and Xena/Cleo are on a boat, waiting for Brutus. Gabrielle and Brutus talk. Gabrielle asks how many people have to die for the good of Rome.

Shiana, who has hovered in the background the entire show, is on the Egyptian fleet with Octavius. The plan is for the Egyptians to crush both Antony and Brutus, giving Octavius the rule. He says it is his destiny to rule Rome.

Xena/Cleo makes the signal as Brutus' ship prepares to ram Antony's. The ships ram, men fight. The Egyptians attack both fleets. Brutus realizes he has been betrayed and goes after Gabrielle. He beats the crap out of her. He gets ready to stab her and then she grabs a sword and slices his throat. As he lies there dying and looking upside down, he sees Xena/Cleo, and calls out her name a few times. Antony hears, and realizes he has been duped. Antony says he trusted her and loved her. They fight. Xena stabs Antony. He says "I did love you" as he dies. Xena looks stricken. The battle is over. It rains.

Octavius says Rome owes Xena a debt of gratitude. She tells Octavius to nurture the alliance with Egypt. She tells him to put the well being of the people ahead of his own. Xena walks off. Gabrielle follows. They stand together and look at the sky and the pyramids.



SYNOPSIS 2:

This synopsis is by John Wignall.

This week's ep begins with a bath of milk. It's quite the bathtub, puts some swimming pools I've seen to shame. I'm betting that a lot of kids went without their milk when Cleo decided to freshen up. (I'd imagine that Renpic came up with a less expensive substitute that just looks like milk, or at least I hope so, can you imagine what that'd smell like after a day under the lights?) Anyway, lotsa shots of servants pouring the milk, throwing rose petals in, that kinda mood setting stuff, then Cleo comes in. Why oh why couldn't they get Gina Torres to take a little time off from that other show. (The one with the stupid theme song), it's not like Cleo is around for long. It's some other woman, who promptly gets nekkid. (I knew there was a reason for watching this show.) She gets in the bath, and says 'Speak'. That's right, she's got a couple of messengers, or advisors, or something pressing their faces into the carpet. Why she couldn't wash up after dealing with these guys I don't know, she didn't come across as the over worked executive type. While Cleo's handmaids sponge her off (actually, just squeeze milk onto her outstretched arms in a sensuous manner) the guys in the silly hats explain that Brutus and Antony are going to war, and both want the Egyptian navy. Cleo seems to be looking forward to flirting with them, but the guys think that the Romans are more likely to try and pop a cap in her . ahem . nose. Cleo writes a quick note to her admiral, and sends the fashion victims away. (I was waiting for those orders to pop up again, but they never do, it's like the writer forgot about them) Cleo chats with her 'friend' She-an-new and complains about crises always happening when she's nekkid. (Is it just me, or could she have dealt with that just as easily before getting in the tub?)

Some bald guy in a toga shows up, and without saying anything (saves on actor's wages don'cha know) hands a scroll to one of the many scantily clad serving girls. (Y'know, if this wasn't such a wholesome, family show, and Cleo wasn't a woman, I'd suspect that there was something amiss about all these beautiful girls wandering around in their underwear) The girl gives the scroll to She-an-new, and the bald guy leaves. (Probably cursing his agent under his breath, he won't even get screen credit for this gig) She-an-new hands the scroll to Cleo, telling her it's an urgent message from Rome, and leaves, taking all the other scantily clad women, and the guards with her. They don't bother to explain that, except for a vague hand gesture from Cleo. She unrolls the scroll, her eyes get really wide, blood drips in the milk, (which was a pretty cool visual), and she calls for She-an-new. (I've gotta come up with a better name for her) Cleo writes a note, and tells She-an-new to take it to Xena, then dies, with a snake bite on her chest. Just in case we haven't been paying attention, there's a quick shot of an asp in the milk. She's fallen for the old snake in the scroll trick.

Transitional shot of some hieroglyphics (a lot more than Cleo had time for) and we cut to X & G. (Oh right, this is their show.) Xena seems to feel she owes Cleo for some reason. (Just what happened after the end of 'King of Assassins'?) Eve has been left in Alexandria with Cyrene. (Presumably safe from the gods for the same reason they haven't zapped the kid in any other ep.) Xena's plan? "First we become Eeeeeegypt, then we become Rome." That would be mysterious if ya hadn't seen the previews.

That's enough of those screen hogs, they were on for almost thirty seconds. Let's take a look at Antony, while he plans to take out Brutus. He's chatting with one of his lieutenants, when a guy who acts like a sergeant comes in, (I suppose he'd be a centurion) He announces that Cleopatra has sent a gift, and then gets bumped by the guys who carry in the rug. (Gotta love that slapstick) He gives Tony a scroll, and Tony sends him and what's-his-name, the other guy, away. The scroll says, "Will Rome enter Egypt" (Nudge-nudge wink- wink) He unrolls the rug, and there's a nekkid chick in golden chains inside it. A coupla nice shots of the body double, and then Lucy looks up and says she's Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and slave of Rome.

Roll opening credits.

Hey, not bad. Two nekkid scenes before we even get the opening credits. Has that ever happened before?

When we return, Lucy/Xena/Cleo/whoever is flirting like crazy. She kisses Tony, and sticks a key in his mouth then asks him to use it to free her. More "witty repartee" and he does. The camera is just loving Lucy's body double today. Lucy even gets to make a cute little face when he undoes the chains around her . um . hips. (Was that gold a trifle chilly?) Tony seems to deal with a nekkid Xena better than Ares did, he just gets her a cloak, and tells her he ain't buying what she's selling. Xena seems a trifle miffed here, after all, she used this tactic a lot in the bad old days, and it always worked then, she's probably having a little post-natal anxiety about her body. She's still trying to flirt, but Tony is talking about alliances, trust, and openness. All that stuff that guys think will make them sound sensitive. Xena decides to invite him back to the palace and see if a home field advantage will help any. Just before we cut away, she gets in one more double entendre. "I think I can find a bed for you" smirk.

Back at the palace, Brutus comes storming in, demanding to speak to Cleopatra 'cause he fears for her safety. Gabby confronts him, (and incidentally, she looks great in Egyptian gear, if you can just ignore the wig). He's understandably a little freaked over seeing her, after all, she was on a cross last time he saw her. It's not exactly a tearful reunion. Brutus wants to see Xena, but Gabby tells him that she's with Cleopatra. He says he'll see them both, but she says it's "not a good time". He wanders off in a huff, but doesn't go far; if you watch you'll see that he stops with his foot on a step, waiting for Michael Hurst to yell cut. (Yup, Iolus is back in the director chair this time out.)

Quick cut to Xena/Cleo bringing Antony into the palace, still flirting her little heart out. She-an-new (Still looking for a better name there) tells her that Brutus is here, so she sends Tony off with her.

Back to Brutus, who is talking to Gabrielle again. He's demanding to see Xena and Cleo, and storms off to find them. He must be pretty good at hide and seek, 'cause in a strange palace, he walks straight to Cleo's bedchamber, where he finds Xena, back in her leathers. (Damn, that woman gets changed fast) He tells her that Tony and Octavius are out to get Cleopatra. (Xena provides the exposition that Oct is Caesar's adopted son) He still wants to see Cleo personally, but makes the critical mistake of grabbing the WP by the shoulder while he's insisting. The ominous horns come up, and Xena gives him 'the look'. (Wouldn't it be nice if we all had our own brass section?) "She's busy" is the only response he gets. More horns, and he's gone. She-an-new, (it just doesn't lend itself to contraction), comes in and asks what she should do with Tony. Xena replies, "The Bath". For about a split second I hoped that this would be some mysterious and nasty way of dealing with unwanted Romans, but no, Lucy just wants to try that bathing in milk stuff that Cleo likes so much. The selfish so and so didn't even invite Gabby to join her.

Naturally this bath scene, like the one before, is full of close-ups and slow pans, to highlight the sensuous nature of spoiled milk. They've gotten into aromatherapy, and Xena's getting oil rubbed into her shoulders by She-an-new (the problem here is she has no actual character outside of being Cleo's girlfriend). Gabby's worried about Tony trying to kill Xena, but the warrior babe thinks that he has some 'business' with her first. Watch the quick glimpse of Gabby's face after that line. I'm not sure if she's reacting to the business line, or She-an-new rubbing Xena's shoulders, but she doesn't like something. Tony comes in, and Xena/Cleo is back in full coquette mode. I gotta say, Renpic does a great job on these Roman uniforms. I want one. Xena introduces Gab as her 'companion', Eris. Tony replies with a smarmy line about wanting to be Eris' hands. I figure he's been brushing up on his flirting technique. Gab tries to take it in stride, but ya can tell she's thinking about her sais and his face. Xena wants to be alone with Tony, but he says no, he's got stuff to do, and mutters something about trust again, before wandering off. Gabby breathes a sigh of relief, and asks Xena how she knew that he wouldn't just jump in. She didn't. Fade out on Xena's enigmatic smile.

After the commercial, we get several shots of Egyptian art at night. This is the royal bedchamber. Can anyone explain to me why Xena sleeps with candles lit? Is she afraid of the dark? A mysterious figure, with official mysterious figure cloak, enters, and walks in a menacing manner to the bed, where Xena has been pretending to be blissfully unaware. She hits him, then throws him to the bed in a chokehold. They chat briefly, he tries to convince her he just wants to chat, and someone starts throwing ancient maltovs at them. He runs for it, she blocks one with a table, one falls at his feet, and he panics. Please note, that at the moment that he's freaking out and screaming like a little girl, his back is to the doorway, he could just walk out anytime he likes, but Xena has to jump over the fire and tackle him out the door. She throws idiot boy up against a wall, and starts interrogating him. Tony comes running up, with a bunch of Roman troops, and they're all fully dressed. Idiot boy is afraid of Tony, and thinks that the maltovs were addressed to him, not the occupant of the bedroom. While this is being established, Gabby and She-an-new show up. Not only fully dressed, but also fetchingly accessorised. (I'm sure that if my soulmate were in imminent peril of being barbecued, I'd stop to pick out just the right outfit.) Tony makes introductions, idiot boy is also known as Octavius, grandnephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. Tony calls him a traitor, he calls Tony a traitor, and Tony quotes Shakespeare at him. Eventually Xena gets tired of this, smacks idiot boy and tells the Egyptian guards, who have finally shown up, to take him away. Xena asks Tony how she knows he wasn't responsible for this, he whispers in her ear that he came to 'put out the fire'. Now this line has me a little confused. It's pretty obviously a double entendre, either he's talking about saving her butt, or getting a piece of it. If the former, how did he and his guys get dressed so fast? If the latter, what are the troops for? Tony and the boys leave, and Cleo's handmaids wrap her in a cloak. As they walk off, Gabby does the jealous girlfriend thing, asking what the plan is. Xena wants Tony on his knees. (Nudge-nudge wink- wink) Gabby doesn't look particularly convinced.

Next we get the scene stolen from 9 Weeks. Xena and Tony are feeding each other, while an incredibly inappropriate Natalie what's- her-name song plays in the background. (Mental note: Strawberries and honey; must try that.) Wonder abs is watching all this, and not liking it much at all. She interrupts, telling Xena that she has to meet with her advisors. Xena figures that her 'advisors' are busybodies. (Is it just me or is our favourite bisexual getting a little itchy in her stable relationship) Once Tony leaves, Gab asks just how far Xena was going to let that go. Xena was waiting for him to beg for her navel. (Is this where we should all snicker like Bevis and Butthead?) Gabby's still not too sure, but Xena says she has no real feeling for stud-boy. One of the servants comes in with a flower, and says it's from him, (I suppose he picked it from the royal gardens on the way out), and that he wants to meet her under the pyramids tonight. Please note, that not only has he not given a time, but he's also being pretty vague about the location. There's a lot of ground that could be called 'under the pyramids'. Xena figures she's got him right where she want's him, even if she doesn't know exactly where that is. Fade to commercial

Tony is by a campfire, and Xena/Cleo walks up. He's getting philosophical. Xena wants to know why he came to Egypt. He decides that he doesn't want her navy any more, so that she doesn't think that he's just using her. I gotta admit, this guy is smooth. They kiss, and get horizontal. Just when it's getting good, Roman soldiers run out of the shadows, trying to kill them. Tony fights most of them off, although Xena clocks one of them pretty good. I kinda like the way the guy they've got playing Tony fights, very bloodthirsty. Just when he's about to finish off the one Xena flattened, mentioning that he's "one of Brutus'" She stops him, saying that he could be useful. She gives the walking corpse a message for Brutus. "Antony and Cleopatra are alive, well, and together." Gosh, don't they make a cute couple. [Ducking]

Meanwhile, in the dungeons . (and may I say that Egypt has the nicest dungeons we've seen on the show to date), Gab is visiting idiot boy. (Who, incidentally, has changed from his mysterious stranger garb to one of those snazzy Roman uniforms. For that matter, Renee gets lots of opportunity to show off her abs, and the rest of her, in this ep. Whoo-Hoo!!) Idiot boy is a bit of a twerp. He's more worried about how grown up he seems than the fact that he's in a dungeon awaiting execution. That and he's got big ideas about Pax Romana, which is a lot like what the US has been doing lately. At the end of their chat he asks Gab if she thinks him foolish. She says she doesn't, but I was waving my hand in the air yelling "I do, I do!", like a gum commercial.

Later on, Xena and Gab are chatting in the moonlight. Xena has fallen for Tony, and her conscience is at war with her libido. Tony is too bloodthirsty to rule Rome, but she'd rather not have to kill him. She gets the bright idea of having Tony and idiot boy work together. Cut to Tony, walking around on a mosaic of the known world, and pointing at it with his sword. Just loads of symbolism there. Xena/Cleo enters, and they chat about his plans. He wants to kill Brutus, all of Brutus' men, and Octavius. Basically the scene is here to show just what a rotten guy Tony really is. That and to show of the really, really great dress that Lucy is in. Hubba hubba. Xena offers Tony her navy, telling him that she'll reinforce him once he's drawn Brutus into battle at the mouth of the Nile. They get in a really good kiss, and Tony wanders off. Next we've got Brutus finally getting his audience with Cleopatra, he walks up and finds out it's Xena. She accuses him of killing the real Cleo, and he starts babbling about why he did it. His big excuse is that once he killed Caesar, he had crossed the Rubicon of blood. That line confused me a bit, so I checked my trusty Compton's CD. Here's what it had to say:

The river Rubicon marked the boundary between Caesar's province and Italy. Crossing it with an army meant declaring war on Rome. When Caesar reached the river (Jan. 10, 49 BC), he plunged his horse into its shallow water and exclaimed, Alea jacta est ("The die is cast"). The expression "crossing the Rubicon" is still used to describe an irreversible decision.
So I guess that killing Caesar, on top of Ephiny and all the other people he killed in a career as a professional soldier, made some sort of difference to this guy who previous scripts made out to be so honourable. [shrug] I still don't get why he wasn't killed right then and there, either by Xena or by Cleo's guards. Instead, Xena promises to reinforce him when his and Tony's fleets fight. As a guarantee of Xena's good faith, Gabby offers to go with Brutus. He likes that deal, and leaves. Xena and Gabby chat for a bit afterwards, Xena's still hoping she won't have to kill stud boy.

After the commercial, Tony and Xena/Cleo are on a boat. Tony's waxing romantic over what they're going to do after the battle. Y'know how new boyfriends get. Xena tries to remind him that they're going into combat, but he just won't let the mood be spoilt. On the next boat we see, Gabby is telling Brutus about how ambitious he's become, (Paging Will Shakespeare, you're being ripped off), while Brutus tells her that she's become a warrior. She returns the compliment by calling him a murderer. These two just aren't getting along. One more boat to get to, idiot boy and she-with-no-witty- nickname are chatting. He asks her why she's here, and frankly, I gotta wonder the same thing. She says she promised her mistress that she'd see her murderers brought to justice. Ya gotta love that kind of loyalty. She wants to know if idiot boy is ready to step onto the stage of history. He's got a lot more confidence in himself than I have in him.

Tony is just about to decide that Brutus isn't going to play, when his lookout spots Brutus' flagship, about to ram him. (Seems these two great leaders each brought a fleet of one ship) Xena gives the signal to idiot boy and that chick whose name I'm getting bored with; they're going to attack both Roman 'fleets'. There's some bad miniatures effects, intercut with some extras doing their best to do a battle scene with no budget. The trick with the guy we've only seen from the back spinning around to reveal a bloody face would've worked better if they hadn't done it twice within about twenty seconds. If you look closely, Gab shows up in one of the mass battle scenes, looking confused. Tony, Brutus and Gabby get right into the melee, but Xena stays up on the . um . raised bit at the aft of the ship. (Gimme a break, it's late) and just holds her ground. Brutus' pal tells him that the Egyptians are attacking both fleets, and he finally realises that Xena has put one over on him again. Now it may be just me, but I counted a total of six ships in this massive naval battle. Did the F/X guys get lazy or what? Brutus decides to take it out on Gabby. (What is it with this guy and killing amazons?) Meanwhile, Tony is in the thick of things in his big blue cape. (Doesn't strike me as a particularly wise fashion choice at this time, but who am I to judge?) Xena's still holding back. Gabby on the other hand, is getting her butt kicked. I want you all to know, that I watched carefully, and when he knocks her down, and kicks her in the face, despite appearances, there are no teeth bouncing off the camera lens. Just when he's about to kill her, she grabs a sword and swings wildly, cutting his throat wide open. (Good one Gabs!) Watch her face in this scene, she loved that. Can someone get me a screen cap of her face right then? With his dying breath, Brutus yells "XENAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA", which somehow clues Tony into the whole deception. (Just smile and nod) Then his guy tells him about the Egyptian betrayal, which I suppose clinches it. He shoves combatants aside 'till he gets to her, gives her a little speech about betrayal, and attacks. They fight for a bit, with Xena obviously staying on the defensive, then Xena says his name, and he runs in with a suicidal attack. You can tell 'cause of the way he yells. She obligingly kills him, and he says something about having loved her before rolling down the stairs. After that, it's pretty much all over. Gabby walks through the devastation, and finds Xena, but they don't embrace. (Damn) Instead we just get a crane shot of the battlefield in the rain. Cross fade to a close-up of Xena, in a sunny village, telling idiot boy to maintain the alliance between Egypt and Rome, and stuff. She's being all angsty again, and saying nice things about Cleo. Xena and Gabby get to look out over the desert again, and have a sensitive closing shot, as we fade to the credits.

I didn't hate this ep as much as some fans seem to have; in fact I didn't think it was bad at all. I suppose being straight might have something to do with that. [Shrug] What I missed most was Xena kicking some ass. She did a little bit of sword work in the climactic battle, but it just wasn't anywhere near what we're used to seeing. They had a lot of big battle to distract you, but I miss Xena doing what she does best. I'm also getting a little tired of her tossing Gab over. TPTB have established that she's getting a little itchy, that's fine, let's resolve that, and get the happy couple back together. Just how long can Gab do the jealous girlfriend look? Still, there was no baby, which I gotta like, and in some ways this did hearken back to classic Xena. Not too bad, but I'm still hoping they do better by the end of the season.



COMMENTARY 1:

This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

Commentary

This episode has some SERIOUS meat to it. It has history and literature wrapped up in moral dilemmas and sexual politics. I like that. I don't like everything that happened in this episode, but I like that we get to contemplate motivations and morals. I'd rather have some grist for the discussion mill in an episode than spood-fed simplistic straw men.

There were so many pensive, meaningful shots of that Cleopatra sidekick that I was totally expecting to find out that she was the murderer.

"Is it just me, or do crises only happen when I'm naked?" GREAT line, Cleopatra, but it's not you, it's the show. You shouldn't have agreed to that guest spot - nudity and death tend to happen a lot 'round these parts.

Xena can read Greek, Chinese, AND Egyptian hieroglyphics? What'd this girl do, go to school until she was 29?

This episode offers the first excuse for an absent Eve - Grandma babysitting. But why are they in Alexandria? And as long as they're bothering with excuses, has anyone seen Xena and Gab's horses lately?

I loved Antony's overeager errand boy when Cleo's carpet gets delivered, especially when Antony and his second exchange their "Oh brother" looks. Great slip of humor in a dramatic episode.

This episode packs a lot of "GOOD morning!" lines in 45 minutes:

"Will Rome enter Egypt"
"Then I'll have him on his knees... figuratively speaking, of course."
"Until he begs for my navel." "Your navy?"
Subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Message from XenaStaff to all channel-surfers: Please come back, all is forgiven. Our star is no longer pregnant. To make up for lost time, we're going to show her wearing nothing but chains and dresses with no sides in them whatsoever.

The moment Gabrielle lays eyes on Antony, you can almost hear her say "Ohhh, Lord, here we go again." She spends the rest of the episode with great "can you believe this crap?" reaction shots while Xena and Antony get cozy. I love the way the servants keep cautiously watching Gabrielle as if they're not sure of the precise moment the bard is going to explode.

So why DID Xena decide to come on to Antony like a locomotive? From the best I can make out, the plan was probably to annihilate both Antony and Brutus from the beginning. But they test the waters on both of them, and on Octavius, to make sure they're doing the right thing. And for a change, Gabrielle is the efficient one, sounding out both Brutus and Octavius while Xena is still playing her seduction games on Antony. I dunno WHY Xena had to make it so complicated. But then again, Gabrielle has the easier job, with the two clear choices. Antony is a tougher call - principled, but ruthless and dangerous.

I like "Carnival" by Natalie Merchant. But since when is XWP using pop music as its soundtrack? And what on earth does it have to do with ancient Egypt?? The food seduction scene was pretty steamy, and I loved Gabrielle's breakup of it and prompt claiming of Antony's space, but that music was ridiculously distracting.

Xena's game ends under the pyramids. Until then, she was having a ball playing her seduction scheme and toying with Antony. But when Antony declares his love, she believes him. This episode had a lot of flashbacks to Destiny (Octavius even mirrors Caesar when he says his destiny is to rule Rome). This was almost Xena's chance to get the events from Destiny right. This time, a potential ruler of Rome was seriously offering himself and his love. And Xena seems tempted to take him up on it, until she sees his bloodthirst in action and decides that he's no good. This time, Xena is the betrayer on the boat.

Antony and Brutus both get final chances to save themselves: Antony gets his test in the map room, Brutus before Egypt's throne. Both of them fail miserably with all the wrong answers, and Xena and Gabrielle set them up for the fall. (The first 20 minutes of the episode was just an excuse for lots of smoochy scenes, I guess.)

That was quite a shot of the two ships ramming each other. XenaStaff put their boat sets to the test this episode. For the record, Antony's ship had its sails furled, Brutus's sails were blood-red, and the sails on Octavius/Egypt's ship were blue and white.

Gabrielle's killing of Brutus may be the most self-motivated death she's caused. Others have been to defend Xena or friends, or whole villages. Killing Brutus definitely qualified as the Greater Good, but there's also a lot of self-defense involved... and a heaping dose of revenge for leaving her and Xena on crosses. It's a bloody fight, and a death that Gabrielle takes some serious satisfaction in.

What a shot of Antony rolling down the steps!

This is a HIGHLY morally ambiguous episode. Xena and Gabrielle (mostly Xena) accomplish their means through seduction, trickery, and betrayal. Their killings of Antony and Brutus are less than pure. And in the end of the battle, both are bloody and dirty.

And after all that, what the HELL was up with the democracy platitude at the very end? "(Cleopatra) died in the hope that the Egyptian people might, for the first time, choose their next great leader" - HUH? Where did that come from?

Highlights

All of the actors in this episode were great, right down to the extras. Cleopatra was cool, and Antony was fantastic.

The costumes and set work in this episode were cool, period. Loved the slinky Egyptian look for Xena and Gabrielle. The shot of Xena in Egypt's throne with Gabrielle perched on its arm was a thing of beauty.



COMMENTARY 2:

This commentary is by Videntur.

First let me say, this play had action, adventure, great costumes and all the makings of a great Xena episode, except it was lacking in one thing - the closeness between Xena and Gabrielle. Let's first take a look at the characters and come back to this point.

Cleopatra - certainly had a very short part in this play and changed very much from the Cleopatra we saw in "The King of Assassins" who was then played by Gina Torres. However, it would have been hard to have Xena play the part of Cleopatra if Gina Torres continued in the role. Josephine Davison, however, also played a good Cleopatra but died very early in the episode. It was pretty cool the way the writers imply that maybe in myth, it wasn't really Marc Antony and Cleopatra but instead it was Marc Antony and Xena. Even from the short time we see Cleopatra we get the sense that this is a queen with an excellent sense of humor and too much trust. When the men approached Cleopatra in the bath and warned her how Brutus or Marc Antony could try to kill her for control of the Egyptian Navy, she should have taken the advise more seriously, instead she ignored it and subsequently paid for her arrogance with her life. Her sense of humor is shown when as the men walk away, Cleopatra turns to Shiana and states "Is it just me Shiana, do crises only happen when I'm naked?"

Shiana - now this is an odd one. Definitely truly loyal to the queen, yet a character that from her expressions throughout the play, you never really knew until the end if you could trust her. It always seemed as if Shiana was listening, but listening a little too intently for just a handmaiden. Finally towards the end when Octavius asks Shiana (while on the ship together) why she was there, Shiana replied: "I promised my mistress I'd see her murderers brought to justice." It is at that point that you realize just how deeply Shiana cared for the Queen and wanted to see justice done. Shiana would have made a great leader - she listened to people intently, her thoughts were deep and her loyalty undying.

Octavius - the little whimp matured quickly in the last few minutes of the play. Octavius definitely was as good a man as Caesar was bad; however, character strength was not a feature he possessed - until the very end of the show. You know Octavius has matured when Shiana asked him: "You're about to step onto the stage of history Octavius, are you ready?" To which Octavius replied: "Yes, I feel I was born for this moment. I realize now it's my destiny to rule Rome."

Brutus - It's funny, I liked Brutus in "Ides of March". He was a gentler character and more of a victim of Caesar. However, in this episode, Brutus has definitely changed and admits it when he goes to meet Cleopatra and finds out instead that it is Xena. Brutus does not deny that he killed Cleopatra and feels that he truly had a justifiable reason for doing so. He admits to killing Caesar and fully acknowledges that once he had performed that action, he crossed the line. If in the "Ides of March" Brutus had said that he was happy to see both Xena and Gabrielle in good health, I would have believed it; however, when he states those sentiments in this episode, I definitely feel that he is lying. He definitely recognized the closeness between Xena and Gabrielle when he became elated that Gabrielle would be on his ship as a guarantee that Xena would keep her word. My one regret regarding Brutus was that Gabrielle waited so long before she delivered the final blow to Brutus across the throat. Brutus definitely showed that he had lost all feeling and definitely was power hungry by the way he kicked and hit Gabrielle when he found out that Xena has portrayed him. The old Brutus would have never behaved in this manner.

Octavius - Handsome, gorgeous and well played by Jon Bennet. At first, you could not tell whether Marc Antony loved Cleopatra or was just truly interested in her Navy. I think he told the truth that when he first came to Egypt, the navy was his only interest. This is shown by the way he wrapped Xena/Cleopatra with a blanket when he first saw her and it was also shown when he refused the milk bath. By the end you definitely knew that Marc Antony loved Xena/Cleopatra and that Xena/Cleopatra had deep feelings for Marc Antony. Xena tried her best not to hurt Marc Antony. This is shown when you hear Xena say to Gabrielle that perhaps Marc Antony and Octavius could work together. However, when Xena asked Marc Antony about Octavius, he made it clear that he could never let Octavius grow to reach full manhood. Marc Antony truly loved Xena/Cleopatra - this was very much shown in the last scenes of the play. You could hear the hurt in Marc Antony's voice at the very end, when he is approaching Xena/Cleopatra with a sword after one of his men informs him of the betrayal and another soldier has shouted the name of Xena. Marc Antony says in a voice that truly is heartbreaking: "You win my trust, my love, and then you betray everything." Another heartbreaking scene was after Xena/Cleopatra had stabbed him with her sword and he died saying "I did - love you." If you notice, when Marc Antony is fight Xena/Cleopatra, he tends to look down quite a bit as if he can not stand the thought of killing the woman he loves and also the thought of having been betrayed by the woman he loved.

Xena and Gabrielle - Usually, I write about each of these characters separately but I think the writers have been doing enough of that lately. Xena and Gabrielle seem apart in their feelings for each other. I love many things about this show, but what I loved the most, was the true, undying friendship between these two characters. I loved the way they cared about each other and could read each other and comfort each other. This was missing throughout this episode. In the scene when Xena/Cleopatra is feeding fruit to Marc Antony and kissing him, Gabrielle interrupts. Xena notes that her advisors are busy bodies - a line that is funny and typically Xena; however, when Gabrielle goes to gently wipe some of the honey off of Xena's mouth with her hand, Xena jerks her head away as if she does not want Gabrielle to touch her. This is not typical of the Xena /Gabrielle friendship. All throughout the episode, Gabrielle has to constantly guess what Xena has planned. Their trust and friendship had grown beyond this through the past episodes and again this was non-typical of the Xena- Gabrielle friendship. At the end, when Xena who has killed Marc Antony and Gabrielle, who has just killed Brutus are on deck, neither character tries to comfort the other. I've seen the time when Gabrielle would have known how much it hurt Xena to kill someone she cared deeply for and she would have been trying to comfort Xena through that hurt. I have also seen the time, that even though Xena had just killed Marc Antony, she would have also been concerned about seeing a bloody faced Gabrielle and also tried to concern herself with caring for Gabrielle's cuts. Also, at the end, you could definitely see Xena was hurting from what she had done. You could see it in her face and hear it in her voice. Yet you see Xena walk off and Gabrielle joins her and again, never a word of comfort. Again this is not typical of Xena episodes. Call me sentimental, but I miss that aspect about our two characters. I miss the closeness of their friendship. The beauty of Xena, Warrior Princess, is that it is so diversified that you can take away from it what you wish because the features that form the basis of a great friendship are always there: love, caring, and loyalty. People are so concerned with what their friendship might imply that they lose the point that the old show tried to get across - that strength lies in true friendship. What their friendship does or does not imply is up to the individual viewing the show, which again demonstrated the unique beauty of this show.

Lucy Lawless and ROC as always did a superb job. Lucy Lawless portrayed Cleopatra with the justice that only Lucy Lawless could give to the character. The play gave us something that we have been longing to see, which is Xena and Gabrielle in an adventure without supporting characters. However, I would like to see the closeness of these characters brought back to the television series. Xena, Warrior Princess is a great play. It was great because it gave people hope that strong friendships like Xena and Gabrielle's can exist and can endure - don't take that away.



COMMENTARY 3:

This commentary is by Beboman.

How to start on this episode? Well, there is only one way, wowwww. This episode was Hot, Hot, Hot and a cold shower is recommended after watching it.

I have to say that this episode was a total showcase for LL's qualities as an actress and her physical qualities as well. But ROC did not stay behind. She looked fabulous in that Egyptian costume. By the Gods!!!!!!! TPTB pulled out all the stops to make this episode a total showcase of the talent of both our stars. As a member of a very grateful audience, I do thank TPTB. What made this episode for me? Almost all of it, and I have to stress that word "almost".

First of all, the fights were great, but a bit too bloody for my taste. Question: Was the Makeup Department getting to the end of the budget and, to make sure they got a larger budget next year, used all the fake blood in this episode. It made it hard for me as an audience member to see Xena standing in the rain, in a bloodied white and gold dress, and Gabrielle with a bloody face. I don't think I have seen so much blood before, not even in "Between the Lines".

Well guys, I guess there was no lost love between Gabrielle and Brutus. I really feel it was poetic justice that Brutus died at the hands of Gabrielle. Yes Brutus, Gabrielle might have been a pacifist in the past, but now days she is a mighty warrior.

I just enjoyed to no end the scene when Brutus finds out that Gabrielle and Xena are still alive. ROC did an outstanding job with her transitions in this scene. Those eyes said it all and ROC kept Gabrielle under control during the whole scene. During this whole scene we see a determined, strong and controlled Gabrielle. We see a woman who has been betrayed and who is not willing to hold back any punches. The Gabrielle in front of Brutus this time was not the Gabrielle from the past. This is a more mature and determined woman.

Now how about if we take a short look at some of the really steamy scenes, like the carpet scene. We all know that the Xenaverse takes great liberties with history and this episode was no exception. We all know that history says it was Caesar, and not Antony, who got Cleopatra a carpet. But considering that Caesar was already dead, it was Antony who got the carpet, and what a gift.

The scene was done exquisitely. Great timing by both actors and great chemistry between them. (By the Gods, was he a hunk.) Xena was using sensuality in this scene. The chains that Xena was wearing added a touch of nuttiness to the scene without crossing the line into vulgarity. The transfer of the key to release Xena from the chains was a surprising touch. Leave it to Xena to come up with some way to get the upper hand even when chained naked.

I have to say that all the scenes between Antony and Cleopatra were very well performed. LL did a great job in keeping Xena under control while playing Cleopatra, especially when it was Xena's fighting strength that was needed and not Cleopatra's cunning. LL made those transitions very smooth and easy. We, the audience, knew that all through the episode it was Xena in control, especially in those moments where the animal attraction between Xena and Antony took center stage.

For Xena, using her body as a tool to obtain what she needs is nothing new. From the first time she showed up in our television world in "The Warrior Princess", we, the audience, have known that. During the series, there have been plenty of times that Xena has used her body to obtain the final purpose. This does not seem to be a problem for her.

One thing I did notice in this episode was that for Xena, playing Cleopatra was not hard. She got into the role and it fit her to a tee. What showed that Xena was enjoying playing Cleopatra were the moments when Xena was with Gabrielle. When Xena was with Gabrielle, she was totally Xena, with no punches held back, with her little gestures and sly remarks. I truly believed that Xena really enjoyed getting Gabrielle steamed up and jealous. I also believe that Xena did enjoy the lust she felt for Antony and especially the physical control she had over Antony.

Once again, this episode serves to show the great mental power and the great ability of Xena to stay focused. She had a plan in mind, she put all the pieces in the right place and in the end, she made a tough decision and stood by it. Was it hard for Xena to kill Antony? You can bet your last dollar it was.

That fight between Xena and Antony was great. Xena was not really fighting, she was merely defending herself. You could see it in her eyes. If she could have, she would have avoided that fight. When she killed Antony, her eyes said it all; there was so much pain.

At this point, I have to take a side bar here: wowwwww, Gabrielle, aren't we a bit on the jealous side. Was it me or was Gabrielle a tad on the jealous side? I could not believe how much control Gabrielle had over her jealousy. The woman has a mile-long jealous streak in her.

I loved Gabrielle's reaction to meeting Antony in the bath. He even took her breath away. And the scene with the fruits; Gabrielle's reactions to that whole scene were just superb. Once again I take my hat off to ROC; excellent job.

What I did not like about this episode was that Octavius was portrayed as a weak, weepy young man. A man like that could not have controlled a single Roman Legion of the time. I would have wanted him to be somewhere between Brutus and Antony.

Finally, would it be right to say that Xena fell in love with Antony or was it just like I said before, instinctive animal attraction between two very strong, sexual people? Could we say that Gabrielle fell for Octavious? Once again, his idealistic personality, his vulnerability and his child-like manners touched that special instinct in Gabrielle to be a mother.

Before I part, I have to say that ROC's acting in this episode was extraordinary. Her reactions to LL's moves, the concentration between the two of them was at a maximum in this episode.

All in all, another very good episode for this season.



COMMENTARY 4:

This commentary is by Philip Teo.

I was kind of disappointed they didn't get Gina Torres to return to guest as Cleopatra since I felt Gina radiated more power as the Egyptian queen. I was also wondering that with the knowledge that so many people may be after her life, why didn't Cleopatra exercised more caution when she opened the scroll? After all, assassination can come in many ways, it need not necessarily be an open confrontation. As the wise Egyptian queen Xena described Cleopatra to be, I would have expected Cleopatra to be more cautious.

Wasn't it kind of convenient that Eve was with Cyrene at the moment so that Xena could go on her undercover mission?

It was rather obvious that Antony was attracted to Xena when she appeared naked to him. Which man wouldn't? Later on, when Antony told Xena that most men would give up their kingdoms at Cleopatra's beauty. No doubt the real Cleopatra is truly beautiful, but in this case, it would appear that Xena herself fit that category too, for Antony was in love with Xena, not Cleopatra, though he was not aware of it.

Gabrielle really knows Xena well, doesn't she? I was smiling when Gabrielle whispered to her best friend that she knows Antony is Xena's type and warned her against getting too involved. And Xena later on realises how right Gabrielle was when Antony declared his love for her.

Octavius is really different from his uncle, Julius Caesar. While Caesar was a ruthless Roman commander, Octavius resembled the kind of guy who aspires to be a hero someday and bring peace to the people. Initially, no one trusted to him. But Gabrielle, after a short talk with him, trusted him and gave Xena her feedback.

I was wondering why did they focus so much attention on Cleopatra's servant, Shiana. I could tell that Shiana did not approve of Xena's actions, but she was just acting on command. Her little talk with Octavius on the ship struck me as odd. Is her character important to the plot?

Brutus has really changed. He said he was glad Xena and Gabrielle are ok, but his expression sure doesn't show it. In the past, he had respect for them, especially Gabrielle. So, where has that respect gone to? In this episode, he was almost behaving like Caesar, wanting power so much that he would go against all morals to achieve it. Watch how he beat up poor Gabrielle later on. I know that Gabrielle may not be the match for Brutus, but is Brutus really so skilful? And hasn't Gabrielle greatly improved in her fighting skills?

Xena was really affected by Antony's death. Under different circumstances, I think that Xena would have tried to make the relationship work.



MILK BATHS AND ASPS

05-04-00. This diversion is by alwayslooking.

According to legend, Cleo bathed in ass' milk. That's right, donkey milk. How it was kept from spoiling is not known, but in a place where people put cones of scented fat on your head when you went to a party so it could melt down your body all evening, perhaps rancid ass milk was a delicacy.

As for what killed her, also according to legend, she LET an asp (snake) bite her on the boob in order to commit suicide, and Mark Antony fell on his sword for the same reason, in order to avoid capture and being paraded through the streets by a victorious Octavion. In reality, Antony, besotted by an ambitious Cleo, was handing her hunks of North Africa. Octavion couldn't have THAT going on: someone handing away bits of his inheritance. On the other hand, Octavion (who, on the defeat of Antony and the conspirators who had killed his uncle, was handed the title of Augustus) really DID construct a Pax Romana - a peaceful period of over 200 years based on Roman might and the bureaucracy he put in place, which could even weather a really awful emperor, like Caligula.



SO WHO IS THIS CLEOPATRA CHICK?

02-05-00. This diversion is by baermer.

I did a lot of research on Cleopatra [while writing the fan fiction story "Cage of the Muses"] (and let me take a moment to say I was amazed at how little I found... There were many books, yes, but compared with other ancient figures, particularly those about whom we've had a long and many-faceted fascination, Cleo doesn't rank very high with the scholars. Is it 'cause they're mostly men?).

Cleo was a brilliant politician, cunning and resourceful, and would bed any man who had power she wanted. She was a slimy, sleazy politican as well.

Caesar and Antony were the classics, and she may well have loved them (I'd bet more money on Antony than Caesar in that regard). Most of the books I read labored over Cleo's track record for picking powerful Romans who were about to fall from grace and how that ultimately did her in.

A tidbit that probably won't make its way into The Cage of The Muses: Cleopatra was the first Ptolemy (the ruling family of Alexandria put on the throne by Alexander the Great, himself. Our Cleopatra was Cleopatra VIII, BTW.) Anyway, she was the first of her family to learn to speak Egyptian. Yikes! The ruling family didn't even bother to speak the native tongue, though Alexandria was primarily a Greek city.

Cleopatra knew six or seven languages--Greek and several African languages among them. But she never learned to speak Latin. I think she did that out of a need to control, for she forced every Roman who came to trade with her or broker political agreements to speak in a second tongue for them: Greek. She was in Rome for a good portion of her childhood when her father wheeled and dealed with the Romans, so she could have picked it up easily (especially since she showed an apptitude for languages). She must have decided not to learn it.

Another tidbit: though this is in regards to an earlier Cleopatra, the name "Cleopatra" was the key to deciphering the Rosetta Stone. The writing on the stone recalls a Ptolemy going to Memphis to help celebrate an Egyptian ritual associated with the cult of Aphis, the Bull. (I'm doing this all from memory which isn't likely to produce 100% true facts here...) It was the first time a Ptolemy had particiapted in an Epgytian ritual like that and so it was recorded in stone, conveniently in Greek, Egyptian, and Heiroglyphics. And the translation of that stone, the first word deciphered from heiroglyphics being 'Cleopatra', was the whole key to being able to read all of the heiroglyphic material we had.

I remember the shock of turning a corner and seeing the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum many a year ago. It ranks with turning a corner at the Museum of Modern Art and running right into Van Gogh's "A Starry Night". Seeing things of that nature--things you've read about and know as defining the pinnacle of human culture or recognized as a turning point in something important to you--is a real treat. Stunning. Overwhelming at time. Really fun.



SO WHO IS THIS AUGUSTUS DUDE?

02-05-00. This diversion is from encyclopedia.com.

Augustus

63 B.C.-A.D. 14, first Roman emperor; a grandnephew of Julius CAESAR. Born Caius Octavius, he became on adoption by the Julian gens (44 B.C.) Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian); Augustus was a title of honor granted (27 B.C.) by the senate. Caesar made the boy his heir without his knowledge, and after Caesar was killed (44 B.C.), Octavian became dominant at Rome. He made an alliance with ANTONY and Lepidus (d. 13 B.C.; see LEPIDUS, family) known as the Second Triumvirate and with Antony defeated the army of Marcus Junius Brutus (see BRUTUS, family) and Caius Cassius Longinus (see CASSIUS, family) at Philippi (42 B.C.). Octavian's forces next defeated POMPEY at Mylae (36 B.C.). After the naval victory at Actium (31 B.C.) over Antony and CLEOPATRA, Octavian controlled all of the Roman territories. The senate in 29 B.C. made him imperator [Lat., (= (commander; from it is derived emperor] and in 27 B.C. augustus [august, reverend]. The month Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) in his honor. He enacted many reforms in Rome and in the provinces and tried to hold the Roman borders set by Caesar. His attempt to make a buffer state in German territory led to the revolt of Arminius, in which a Roman army was destroyed. Augustus built ROMAN ROADS, beautified Rome, and was munificent to arts and letters. He was a patron of VERGIL, OVID, LIVY, and HORACE. He also established the concept of the Pax Romana [Roman peace]. He was succeeded by his stepson TIBERIUS.



GREEK AMONG ROMANS IN CLEOPATRA'S TIME

02-13-00. This is from Rob Fleming.

As in 19th century Russia when French was adopted and spoken daily by aristocrats, so in the 1st century BCE Greek played the same role among educated and aristocratic Romans. Children, girls included, were taught Greek first by their Greek nannies and then by native Greek tutors.

Athens, like Paris centuries later, served as a school and a model for civilized manners, especially for those born in cultural backwaters like Rome.

Cleopatra may not have wanted to concede anything to Rome by deciding not to learn Latin, the official language of the Roman state. However, Anthony and Octavian [Augustus] would have comfortably conversed in Greek with Cleopatra at Alexandria, her proud capital and center of Hellenistic scholarship.

By then, Classical Greek had been transformed into a simplified language, called Koine' which just means "common." The letters of Paul and the Gospels among principal Christian texts were all written in Koine'. Much like American English today, Koine' Greek was too pervasive and influential to ignore.



WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR

06-17-00. In the June 2000 issue of Chakram (#11), the newsletter of the Official Xena Fan Club, actor Lucy Lawless talked about about the show,

"You've got a lot on your plate right now," I said, "with Julius and the show."
"We did night shooting for a WONDERFUL episode, 'Antony and Cleopatra,' and went away to film a sea battle up the coast. That was incredibly unsettling. Rob was away at the time and Julius and I both got horribly sick. It took him a couple weeks to get back to normal which coincided with the time Rob returned. So Rob thinks it's because he wasn't there," Lucy laughed.

06-11-00. In the June 2000 issue of Chakram, the newsletter of the Official Xena Fan Club, Robert Tapert was interviewed:

Interviewer: There have been some pretty hot scenes between Xena and Ares lately.
Robert Tapert: We have an episode coming up that's the most sexually predatory story we've ever told. And if I have any concern, it's over that.
Interviewer: Predatory?
Tapert: Xena uses sex as a weapon. "Amphipolis" was the first time we've ever done that. We do it again in "Antony and Cleopatra". It didn't bother me with Ares in "Amphipolis" because it was part of Xena's ruse.
Interviewer: They've played so many games with each other?
Tapert: Yeah, but in that episode it was the only weapon left to her. The siege mentality was the justification for her going to Ares and spinning her web that way. Lucy as an actress is hot and Kevin's a good - looking guy. There's a certain chemistry between them that we wanted to "utilize".

05-27-00. R.J. Stewart, Executive Producer of Xena, visited the Feminism and Classics Conference at the University of Southern California on Friday, May 19, 2000. Ariel Penn from Newsguy.com asked Stewart about the choice of that Natalie Merchant song in Antony and Cleopatra:

I got to ask him a final question_ What was up with Natalie Merchant? For those of you who missed it, they staged Xena and Marc Anthony's seduction scene to Natalie Merchant music. He explained that frequently the editor puts down a temp music track after he edits the picture and before Joe Lo Duca completes his scoring. They liked Natalie Merchant's song so much on the temp track that they decided to use it for the final.

05-04-00. Song used in the Cleo & Antony eating scene was "Carnival", sung by Natalie Merchant.

03-24-00. Rumors abound that this episode includes a Tom Jones food/sex scene between Xena and Marc Antony. Let's hope she leaves Eve with the sitter this time (not like she did with Ares).

02-05-00. The original casting script for Antony & Cleopatra was offered on EBay.com (the online auction house) on January 16, 2000. It was sold January 19, 200. The description read thus: "An original casting script for the upcoming Xena, Warrior Princess story arc titled Antony + Cleopatra. Xena, Gabriel and Joxer travel back to Egypt to face some old friends and new enemies (and some are one and the same). This casting script is for several parts within the story arc and comes from one of the agencies who submitted actors for the roles. It is an original and comes bound on colored paper with some notations from the production. A very rare and collectable item for any Xena fan!"

04-29-00. Love and Death in Alexandria. The name is subject to change. It might be the 2nd episode of the 5th season. Includes Cleopatra's death, along with Marc Anthony's. The new male nemesis of Xena, Augustus (Octavius Caesar), will appear.



THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

These things are by Beth Gaynor.

Cute touch in the pyramids scene: the sphinx still has its nose.

According to that sheath dress of Xena's, Egyptian nights are a little chilly.

Once again, Xena has tons of fun with turning history on its head. According to this episode, Antony, Octavius, and Brutus are fighting for Rome. Cleo is assassinated by an asp biting her on the breast. Disguised as Cleopatra, Xena led on Antony, then led him and Brutus into a battle and defeated them both, setting up Octavius, the idealistic young man who wanted to take Rome to a "pax romana", as the leader of Rome.

Real history says that it was Antony, Octavius, and a third general who scrabbled for Rome after Caesar's death. Antony and Cleopatra did link up romantically and sailed against Octavius, who defeated them both. Antony and Cleopatra fled and later both committed suicide. According to Shakespeare (I don't know if this part's based on any "real" history), Cleo chose to die by putting an asp to her breast. (And may I be allowed to say - ouch!) Octavius really did go on to rule Rome and set up a period of Pax Romana.

Since Shakespeare's the most famous chronicler of Antony and Cleopatra, just like we've seen in the other Rome episodes, quite a few of the lines in this episode were borrowed from the Bard.

"It's not that I love Caesar less;
It's that I love Rome more."
- Brutus gave this line in Julius Caesar. (He wasn't in Antony and Cleopatra.)
Antony's shipboard speech to Xena was borrowed from the description of Cleopatra's arrival to meet Brutus:
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them;
the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes.
Not all of the lines were from Shakespeare's plays about Rome. Antony's "I have supped full of pleasures this night" was a twist on MacBeth's "I have supped full with horrors."

And while it's not quite Shakespearean, Brutus's line "When I killed Caesar, I crossed the rubicon of blood" was a reference to the river Caesar crossed with his army to make war against the Senate to rule Rome.



MORE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

06-05-01. Nick. I was listening to "honey and wine" from the Lyre Lyre CD and I watched the "Hypnotize, mesmerize..." Xena/Cleo seducing good 'ole Antonio scene in ANTONY and CLEOPATRA. And they I had this great idea -- mute the video and play the CD. And guess what? "Honey and Wine" was originally written for that scene. You can hear the end of the song after Antony leaves and Xena and Gab chat. Start the CD right as the scene begins, and then unmute the video (ooh, that is, if you taped it) at the end of the scene, and you'll hear the end of "Honey and Wine" I tried this, and the CD music and TV music coincided!! It was very cool. So, if I'm just slow and you all figured this out before, me, more power to ya, but if you didn't try it -- it's pretty neat.

11-06-00. From Margaret Anderson. In the Episode of Cleopatra toward the end, Xena stands on the deck of the ship fighting off her attacker....Zoom in close shot of her face shows a slight splatter of blood on the left cheek....Camera to Mark Anthony..then back to Xena who now has a great smear of blood on her right cheek and the left cheek is clean..amazing reality.

05-26-00. From Patient Gent. The costumes Xena & Gabrielle wore in the sea battle were excellent copies of those worn by Theda Bara and Thurston Hall in the silent movie.

05-18-00. From Patient Gent. Um, Herc & Xena are chums with Cleo but Herc just met NEFERTITI. I know they combine centuries (Galen & Hippocrates - Knights of the Round Table & Boadicea) but millennia?! That's why I LOVE the Xenaverse - you can do anything - Resurrection is only a start!!

05-04-00. From Helen Simmins-McMillin. Lucy's costume changed during the battle scene. You'll notice the gold lamay cloth is draped over different shoulders. It starts out one way, then switches once the battle starts. I think it switches back at the end, but I'm not sure. Guess they filmed on different nights, and didn't check for continuity.

04-30-00. From Rob Fleming. THE FAMOUS ASP.

The two wounds on the real Cleopatra's breast were made by the fangs of a highly poisonous snake, the famous asp. The snake must have been rolled into the scroll and leapt out to bite Cleo. In the Xena ep, the snake is seen swimming sinuously towards the viewer through Cleo's milk bath just after the scene in which she sends for Xena with her dying breath.

All of the events in the ep take place around 42 BCE, not long after Caesar's assassination, and the year which history records as Brutus's last.

Cleopatra committed suicide when she and Marc Anthony were finally defeated by Octavian at the sea battle of Actium in 31 BCE. The famous, but legendary, scene showing Cleo bringing the asp to her bared breast as if to suckle it, has been a natural for male artists who wanted to evoke an erotically charged death under the guise of a moral lesson from Antiquity.

Of course, the Xena writers have collapsed about 11 years (between 42 and 31 BCE) into a few days. Octavian was 21 years old in 42 BCE; he did not triumph over Egypt until he was 32. And, even then, it took him another 17 years until he was finally proclaimed "Augustus" -- in the sense of being venerable -- becoming in fact, if not in name, the first emperor of Rome.



TRANSCRIPT

Click here to read a transcript of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.



LINKS:

Transcript of episode with pictures and a .wav file of "Carnival"





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