Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where Does Cleopatra Live?

Sometimes I like to poke around Google and see what sorts of Shakespeare questions people ask.  We did this will great success on the "Why Does Romeo?" thread earlier this year.

I found an interesting one today, though, that stumps me a little bit.  The following question ends up being the most popular question on my list, above "How did Hamlet die" and "What does Romeo compare Juliet to".  Ready for this?  Well, I suppose there's really no surprise as I put it right in the title.  Where does Cleopatra live?

I can't imagine why that is such a popular question.  Is there a modern pop singer with that name, or something?  Given that it is being asked in the present tense, you see. Even googling for the answer, at least right now, turns up no meaningful results.  Lots of variations ("Where in Egypt did Cleopatra live?") but none for that exact phrasing.  Makes me wonder if people are asking a question that's not being answered.

So here we are.  Where does Cleopatra live?  There's the easy answer of "Alexandria, Egypt."  Is there a better or different answer, in the context of the Shakespeare play?

Update: Couple hours later, and we're on the first page of Google results for this question.  So make it good!

If you've arrived from Google and this is *not* the answer to the question you were hoping for, please share with us what you meant so we can help you find the answer!  We're good like that.


JM said...

Cleopatra lived in style
In a palace 'long the Nile
Although there is some small report
In Giza she would sometimes sport--
--Though no one knew it when she did
She'd hide in Cheops' pyramid
Until one day, her final gasp--
'Tis all well known. Why would you asp?

JM said...

She did live for a period in Ashkelon (Ascalon)

According to Wiki: "Ashkelon was the oldest and largest seaport in Canaan one of the "five cities" of the Philistines, north of Gaza and south of Jaffa (Yafa). Cleopatra VII used Ashkelon as her place of refuge when her brother and sister exiled her in 49 BC . She built an army on the site but did not need to use it due to Julius Caesar's arrival in Alexandria."

That, and aside from the time she spends in Rome (2 years?), she lived in
Alexandria, which was the home of all the Ptolemaic line. She was the last of
the Ptolemy Pharaohs.
Apparently, her palace was discovered at the bottom of the harbor at Alexandria, which was itself situated on the Mediterranean at the end of the Nile. Shakespeare's scenes are set in "various parts of the Roman Empire". He's been criticized for "plot looseness" when it comers to scene-shifting. The play begins, "Location: Alexandria. Cleopatra's palace." in most modern editions.
There is no locational info in the Folio of 1623 (the first publication) other than lines such as "News from Rome" and other indications of place in the lines themselves. Unless you're looking for the street address of her "crib" in Alexandria :) when you ask "where did she live?", those are the only answers I can come up with so far.