Introduction: Becoming Cleopatra

  • Francesca T. Royster


The Cleopatra icon has remained powerful over time because she signifies reinvention—the fantasy of being able to slough off one’s “cires and mantles” for a new skin. If there is one passage that would best describe the Cleopatra icon, it would be Enobarbus’s description of Cleopatra emerging from her barge, from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra:

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale

Her infinite variety. Other women cloy

The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry

Where most she satisfies. (Act 2, scene 2.240–243)


Black Woman African American Woman Racial Identity Early Modern Period Black Panther Party 
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© Francesca T. Royster 2003

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  • Francesca T. Royster

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