The Noblest Romans (and Greek) of Them All

cleopatraIn Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Antony praised Brutus as the noblest Roman of them all.  One might have thought it would be Caesar himself who deserved that accolade, and he has been portrayed nobly on film, especially by Rex Harrison in Cleopatra (1963).  He was properly outraged when the head of his rival Pompey was brought to him when he landed in Egypt.  At the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great he waxed melancholic at the certainty that he was himself too old to accomplish what the Macedonian conqueror had during his brief life.  But was Caesar the noblest character in Cleopatra?  Was it not Flavius (George Cole)?  As Caesar’s dog’s-body, he soothed and protected his master during epileptic fits.  What of Mark Antony (Richard Burton)?  No, it was his factotum Rufio (Martin Landau), who was murdered  rather than desert his comrade in the desert as Octavian’s forces approached for battle.  What of the Queen of the Nile (Elizabeth Taylor) herself?  Once again, it was her Greek servant Appolodorus (Caesare Danova) who deserves our praise.  He facilitated her first, secret, meeting with Caesar and attended her until the end.

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