"How DARE you and the rest of your barbarians set fire to my library? Play conqueror all you want, Mighty Caesar! Rape, murder, pillage thousands, even millions of human beings! But neither you nor any other barbarian has the right to destroy one human thought!"
Description: Elizabeth Taylor as Egypt's Queen Cleopatra expresses her indignation to conquering Roman General Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) in the motion picture Cleopatra (1963). Caesar takes umbrage to Cleopatra's “barbarian” remark, and replies, “You’re a descendent of generations of inbred, incestuous mental defectives—how dare you call anyone barbarian!”
In 48 BC Julius Caesar and his rival Pompey fought to be the leader of the Roman State. In the ensuing Civil War, Pompey is defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus and flees to Alexandria, Egypt where he is granted asylum by Pharaoh Ptolemy (Richard O'Sullivan) who has recently deposed his sister Cleopatra. When Julius Caesar and his Roman legions arrive in Egypt in search of Pompey, Ptolemy assassinates Pompey and delivers his head to the mighty Caesar to curry his favor.
"Queen Cleopatra is widely read, well versed in the natural sciences and mathematics. She speaks seven languages proficiently. Were she not a woman, one would consider her to be an intellectual." Agrippa [to Caesar]
But it was Cleopatra who ends up currying favor. For Caesar is so smitten by her beauty that he elevates Cleopatra to the Egyptian throne and sends Ptolemy to his death to fight with his already out-numbered soldiers engaged in battle with the invading Mithridates army.
Within a short time, Caesar and Cleopatra have a son named Caesarion, but affairs of state force Caesar to return to Rome and leave his new family behind. But in time, Cleopatra and her son travel to Rome and she becomes a favorite of the people.
The Senate, however, had grown tired of Caesar's rule and on the Ides of March 44 BC, he is assassinated and Octavian (Roddy McDowell), Ceasar's nephew, not Caesarion is chosen as his successor. Fearful for the safety, Cleopatra returns to her own throne in Egypt.
|Cleopatra:||You come before me as a suppliant.|
|Antony:||If you choose to regard me as such.|
|Cleopatra:||You will therefore assume the position of a suppliant before this throne. You will kneel.|
|Antony:||I will WHAT?|
|Antony:||You dare ask the Proconsul of the Roman Empire?|
|Cleopatra:||I ASKED it of Julius Caesar. I DEMAND it of you!|
"Your tongue is old, but sharp, Cicero. Be careful how you wag it. One day it will cut off your head." - Mark Antony [to Cicero]
"You know it's possible Octavian that when you die... You will die without ever having been alive." - Mark Antony [to Octavian]
A few years later, Mark Antony, a protege of Caesar visits Egypt and he too, falls in love with this Queen of the Nile. But when Antony's popularity with the Roman Senate declines, Octavian leads an attack on Egypt, and Antony's forces are defeated at the Battle of Actium.
Antony survives the battle, but when Octavian sends an envoy asking Cleopatra to give up Antony to prevent further bloodshed, she refuses. She prefers to rally her remaining troops to fight Octavian, with Antony as their leader, but Antony still wallows in self-pity for fleeing his duties in a time of war, to follow Cleopatra's barge whom he thought was abandoning him. In reality, she thought him dead.
Eventually, Antony agrees to retake command of his troops and fight Octavian and Agrippa's advancing army. However, Antony's soldiers abandon him during the night. To reclaim some sort of honor, Antony tries to goad Octavian into single combat. When this fails, Antony flees back to Alexandria to the arms of his beloved Cleopatra.
But upon his return, Antony hears falsely that the Queen has died. In despair, he stabs himself with his sword. But he is found and carried to Cleopatra's chambers where he expires in her arms. When Octavian hears from one of his soldiers that Mark Antony is dead, he gives this eloquent eulogy.
"Is that how one says it? As simply as that. Mark Antony is dead. Lord Antony is dead. The soup is hot; the soup is cold. Antony is living; Antony is dead. Shake with terror when such words pass your lips, for fear they be untrue and Antony'd cut out your tongue for the lie! And if true, for your lifetime boast that you were honored to speak his name even in death. The dying of such a man, must be shouted, screamed! It must echo back from the corners of the universe. Antony is dead! Mark Antony of Rome lives no more!"
|Octavian:||The fighting is over. Your country, your possessions and you are mine by right of conquest. I will permit you to rule Egypt as a Roman province and return your possessions. There is one condition. You must first accompany me to Rome.|
|Cleopatra:||...behind your chariot? Would the proud citizens of Rome wait for hours in the hot sun to see my dead body dragged through the forum?|
|Octavian:||I will have you closely watched.|
|Cleopatra:||Octavian When I am ready to die. I WILL die.|
On August 12, 30 BC, Cleopatra (who also learns her son Caesarion is dead) commits suicide using the venomous bite of an asp snake rather than be taken a prisoner. Her maid servant Charmian has also killed herself, but she survives long enough to tell one of Octavian's guards that her Queen (The last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt) died "Extremely well, as befitting of the last of so many noble rulers."