The historical Marc Antony obviously didn’t smoke. But if he could’ve, he certainly would’ve, and it would have been an improvement for his odor.
[SETTING: Grove of Tragic Lovers]
MARC ANTONY, ROMAN GENERAL AND NOTORIOUS POOR-LIFE-CHOICE-MAKER: Darling, do you remember how the mortals recently recreated your perfume? Well, I just overheard that they have excavated actual ancient Roman perfume in Spain!
CLEOPATRA, QUEEN OF EGYPT AND NOTORIOUS LIFE-CHOICE-MAXIMIZER: And why in the world would I care about that? Mortals find some discarded random Roman perfume, and you think this will be interesting to me. I speak seven languages and wrote a treatise on mathematics. What is impressive is how long I stomached an easily amused blockhead like you.
MARC ANTONY: Our therapist Echo says “hurt people hurt people,” and I want you to know that was hurtful. And this discovery is a big deal. It’s possibly the first time mortals have excavated and analyzed actual ancient perfume from a sealed container. Usually when they try to figure out the perfume ingredients, they have to rely on just residues on jars for their scientific analysis. See? I do science.
CLEOPATRA: Echo is NOT our therapist. And anyone who says “I do science” is not going to impress me with science. All you’ve proven with that onslaught of facts is that you can read a scroll, not that you understand it. What did they learn was in the perfume?
MARC ANTONY: Um…(reading) patchouli.
CLEOPATRA: Actually, that is interesting. That plant is native to South Asia, so that’s impressive it made it all the way to Roman Spain. You know who else made it all the way to Roman Spain? Julius Caesar. But you preferred to lounge around in the established East, didn’t you?
MARC ANTONY: Oh, like you ever left the comfort of the Eastern Mediterranean.
CLEOPATRA: (epic eye-roll) Right, which is exactly why I abandoned you at Actium. If I had known you would somehow manage to crawl back to Egypt and bring Octavian with you, I would have sunk your ship myself.
MARC ANTONY: (gritting teeth) I am not engaging with your hurtful behavior. I am choosing my own dynamic from this relationship. So as I was saying, the perfume was found in a sealed quartz bottle in a burial niche with amber beads.
CLEOPATRA: Actually, amber comes from Scandinavia. So material from Scandinavia and Asia, in a tomb in Roman Spain. That is impressive for mere mortals.
MARC ANTONY: See! I can be impressive! This relationship can work!
CLEOPATRA: I didn’t say you were impressive. I said the contents of an ancient tomb were impressive. So really, I think you are less impressive than a jar of fat used to keep corpses from smelling. Now that fact is impressive.
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To learn more about how Romans interacted, invaded, and (to some extents) invented Egypt, enroll in CLAS-C 387 Roman History, coming up Fall 2023, with no pre-reqs! Or for more adventures with Cleopatra, look for our 1-credit “appetizer” course CLAS-B 313 Extraordinary Ancient Women, coming up Fall 2023, also with no pre-reqs. While you’re waiting, make sure to check back for more adventures of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. Can’t get enough of Ancient Greece and Rome? Earn a Classics Minor in just 15 credits!