Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare.
The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Sicilian revolt to Cleopatra's suicide during the Final War of the Roman Republic. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumviri of the Second Triumvirate and the first emperor of the Roman Empire. The tragedy is set in Rome and Egypt, characterized by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome.
Many consider Shakespeare's Cleopatra, whom the playwright described as having "infinite variety", as one of the most complex and fully developed female characters in his entire body of work. She is frequently vain and histrionic, almost provoking an audience to scorn; at the same time, Shakespeare's efforts invest both Cleopatra and Antony with tragic grandeur.
It is difficult to classify Antony and Cleopatra as belonging to a single genre. It can be described as a history play (though it does not completely adhere to historical account), as a tragedy (though not completely in Aristotelian terms), as a comedy, and as a romance, and some critics, have also classified it as a problem play.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
In 2016, celebrations will commence in the United Kingdom and across the world to honour The Bard's 400th anniversary.