Ritual gone wrong in Demetrius–Antony: Or, ‘you’re not a deity, you’re a very naughty boy’
RAPPORT and mutual understanding are important to ritual: signals are sent out, and it is important that they are received in the right way. In Demetrius and Antony Plutarch traces the way in which ritual goes wrong and mutual understanding breaks down. Demetrius is greeted with divine honours, but misunderstands the terms on which the honours are paid: like other Hellenistic monarchs, he mistakes the show for reality, and does not know when it is time to lay the role-playing aside. In Antony the themes are juggled and re-sorted. At times Antony does achieve real rapport, with his men, with the Athenian public, at Alexandria; but he misjudges ritual at the Lupercalia, and much of his role-playing misfires badly at Rome. The pair ends with other ritual echoes as Cleopatra dies, echoes that might be expected to suggest a travesty of propriety but for her, paradoxically, seem exactly right.
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