Octavian gathered support in Italy, while Antony's Roman friends had mixed emotions about waging war on the side of the Egyptian queen. The two men and their armies met off at Actium, Greece, on September 2, 31 . In a confused battle Antony's fleet was defeated. He fled back to Egypt with Cleopatra. Upon Octavian's arrival in Egypt, Antony committed suicide. Octavian went on to become the first emperor of Rome, taking the name Augustus.
We should not share this perception of Egypt, however. For the Roman understanding of the East and, by extension, its representative queen is exceptionally narrow. According to Caesar, for instance, Cleopatra is little more than the whore for whom Antony has sacrificed his kingdom and reputation. But just as Cleopatra is a multidimensional character who plays the parts of lovesick devotee, grief-stricken mourner, jealous harpy, and even, at the end, wife and mother as convincingly as she dons the role of seductress, so too the East contains more than simple base temptations. A homeland of sorts for the passions, freedoms, and imagination that often escape the likes of Caesar and Antony, Shakespeare’s East is best understood as a world larger and more complex than reductive Roman thought allows.
A recent Rolling Stone cover story on Bruno Mars did not find the singer enjoying the carefree life of a superstar. Though the front of the magazine depicted Mars lounging on a diving board with a pristine pool and grand mansion at his back, the story detailing the making of his third album, 24K Magic , was headlined “Bruno Mars: The Private Anxiety of a Pop Perfectionist.” It looked at the belabored process that was crafting his first album post-“Uptown Funk,” a song from someone else’s record that nonetheless became the one hit Mars will never be able to outrun.