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"But stirr'd by Cleopatra": The Ambivalent Role of Foreign Drugs in Antony and Cleopatra



This study looks at Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra primarily as a text expressing medical concerns about imported foreign drugs in early modern Europe, more specifically in 16^(th)-17^(th) century England. Through an investigation of the play's dramatic atmosphere, juxtaposed with early modern beliefs about foreign drugs embodied by the images of Cleopatra, this article will demonstrate how Antony and Cleopatra is concerned with imported foreign medicines, and with how Shakespeare has placed various medicinal messages in a drama focusing on a romance and on political ambitions. Antony and Cleopatra is, then, a discourse on social pathology, on the desire for foreign drugs that could be both beneficial and fatal.

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