Caesar and Cleopatra HTML version

Notes To Caesar And Cleopatra
For the sake of conciseness in a hurried situation I have made Cleopatra
recommend rum. This, I am afraid, is an anachronism: the only real one in the
play. To balance it, I give a couple of the remedies she actually believed in. They
are quoted by Galen from Cleopatra's book on Cosmetic.
"For bald patches, powder red sulphuret of arsenic and take it up with oak gum,
as much as it will bear. Put on a rag and apply, having soaped the place well
first. I have mixed the above with a foam of nitre, and it worked well."
Several other receipts follow, ending with: "The following is the best of all, acting
for fallen hairs, when applied with oil or pomatum; acts also for falling off of
eyelashes or for people getting bald all over. It is wonderful. Of domestic mice
burnt, one part; of vine rag burnt, one part; of horse's teeth burnt, one part; of
bear's grease one; of deer's marrow one; of reed bark one. To be pounded when
dry, and mixed with plenty of honey til it gets the consistency of honey; then the
bear's grease and marrow to be mixed (when melted), the medicine to be put in a
brass flask, and the bald part rubbed til it sprouts."
Concerning these ingredients, my fellow-dramatist, Gilbert Murray, who, as a
Professor of Greek, has applied to classical antiquity the methods of high
scholarship (my own method is pure divination), writes to me as follows: " Some
of this I don't understand, and possibly Galen did not, as he quotes your
heroine's own language. Foam of nitre is, I think, something like soapsuds. Reed
bark is an odd expression. It might mean the outside membrane of a reed: I do
not know what it ought to be called. In the burnt mice receipt I take that you first
mixed the solid powders with honey, and then added the grease. I expect
Cleopatra preferred it because in most of the others you have to lacerate the
skin, prick it, or rub it till it bleeds. I do not know what vine rag is. I translate
The only way to write a play which shall convey to the general public an
impression of antiquity is to make the characters speak blank verse and abstain
from reference to steam, telegraphy, or any of the material conditions of their
existence. The more ignorant men are, the more convinced are they that their
little parish and their little chapel is an apex which civilization and philosophy
have painfully struggled up the pyramid of time from a desert of savagery.
Savagery, they think, became barbarism; barbarism became ancient civilization;
ancient civilization became Pauline Christianity; Pauline Christianity became
Roman Catholicism; Roman Catholicism became the Dark Ages; and the Dark