Cleopatra is often described as a decadent foreign woman and a noble ruler. She is leader of Egypt, which is part of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra rules her people but has to answer to Rome. In the play Rome and Egypt are clearly define. Rome being defined by the typical male virtues of war and honor, and with Egypt expressing feminity; the River Nile representing fertility as it breeds life. Cleopatra is considered a beautiful woman who is also dangerous and subversive. The opening scene of the play shows that she is a woman to be feared and represents the common people's views. Philo begins by framing the audience's understanding of Cleopatra by complaining about Antony, who seems to be risking his reputation for his love of Cleopatra. They continue on to describe her as a lustful "gipsy" and this a running theme throughout the play, often being described in no uncertain terms as a "wrangling queen" (I.i.50), a "slave" (I.iv.19), an "Egyptian dish" (II.vi.123), and a "whore" (III.vi.67) and being some sort of witch that has made Antony "the noble ruin of her magic". The reference to Mars (the god of war), the opening scene, shows that as a couple, Antony and Cleopatra are like gods and goddess, she being Venus; the goddess of love, who adored Mars and eventually had his child. .
Act I Scene 3 shows how important reputation is and how they see each other. They are both insecure, she over losing Antony and he, about getting old and not being a good solider. Cleopatra acts very much over the top in this scene, and one begins to question when she stops and her play-acting begins. Indeed, when Cleopatra takes the stage, she does so as an actress, elevating her passion, her grief, and her outrage to the most dramatic and captivating level. Cleopatra discusses what she should do to keep Antony with Charmian, who advises to "cross him in nothing". Cleopatra refuses to accept this advice claiming that Charmian "thou teachest like a fool: the way to lose him".