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The Shakespeare Tarot - Marc Antony

9 of Staffs - Mark Antony

Dramatis Personae: Mark Antony.

Text & Context: In Mark Antony we see the apex of a progression which began with the shame-culture of archaic Rome in Coriolanus and continued on to Brutus, representative of the Stoic as heroic. In shame-culture, one's identity is synonymous with what one does. Of Stoicism, it can be said, one's identity is synonymous with what one doesn't do - to be stoic is not to have no feelings, but rather to act despite those feelings. By comparison, Mark Antony is a new kind of man. He holds that feelings, in and of themselves, may have virtue; are not the sole domain of the weaker sex, but are integral to virility. 

 The conundrum then, is the place for this "new man" in the old Roman world. After the tempered, stoical apology given by Brutus after Caesar's assassination, Mark Antony manipulates the emotions of the crowd, inciting the mob to drive the conspirators from Rome, by manipulating his own emotions. Unlike the machiavel, Anthony's grief for Caesar is real. So too his love for Cleopatra. The unrest made manifest in the streets of Rome is analogous to the crush of emotions rampant in Antony himself. In this, Antony is playing with fire.

  A foot in two different worlds, Antony is brought drunken forth, new wine in an old skin. Akin his relations with Cleopatra, he's locked in a bitter internicine battle with his own emotions, themselves locked in their monument where, like another Anthony, "gilded worms do entomb." He cannot even enact the ultimate symbol of virile, Mars-governed Rome which his mockingly named aide Eros achieves - noble suicide. Similarly his love, Cleopatra, a woman from a realm remote, herself of two worlds, greatly boyed i' th' posture of a whore, manages what Antony could not. 

 Mark Antony, as the 9 of Staffs, represents the apex of the suit - in the ascendant, the man of eloquence and might in Julius Caesar; on the other side, a man of emotion in a world of war and a man of war in a world of emotion, ending, in Antony & Cleopatra, as a raging wildfire extinguishes itself.

Intertext: Swords 3 Brutus; Queen of Cups Cleopatra; The Chariot VII Lord Burghley.

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