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Thread: ZWJ, the real MAN of the Condor Trilogy

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    Default ZWJ, the real MAN of the Condor Trilogy

    Zhang Wuji get's no respect. He's often viewed as wishy-washy with great kung fu, but poor fighting skills. While some of the criticisms against him are valid, I think that people over-look the things that makes him a "true" man, more so than the other 2 Condor Trilogy heroes: Guo Jing and Yang Guo.

    Guo Jing grew into manhood and became a great hero, one everybody in Jiang Hu looked up to, someone who sacrificed everything for the good of China. But, how did he get there? I think the thing puts him a notch below Zhang Wuji is that Guo Jing wasn't a self-made man. He had a heroic heart, but his brain was often sorely lacking. It was only because of Huang Rong's scheming that he learned Xiang Long Shi Ba Zhang, arguably, GJ's signature martial art. It was Huang Rong who helped (albeit through an intermediary) Guo Jing comprehend much of 9 Ying. Ultimately, Guo Jing wasn't a self-made man; he was a product of his future-wife, making him worthy of her to marry. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a man who, through his significant other, is able to succeed beyond even their own native abilities, however, it is a pale comparison to ZWJ, who succeeded based entirely on himself. ZWJ learned medicine by himself in a bid to save others under the unsympathetic eye of Hu Qing-Niu. Zhang Wu-ji spent 5 years by himself, teaching himself 9 Yang Shen Gong. And he built on that knowledge himself and learned even better arts. Not only was he smart enough to learn his own arts, he was every bit the intellectual equal of all the girls who loved him. Xiao Zhao and Zhou Zi-ruo aren't the equal of a Huang Rong, however, they weren't slouches. On the other hand, Zhao Min is (arguably) as smart as Huang Rong and even more underhanded than her. And Zhang Wu-ji was able to handle all of them. Zhang Wu-ji's one flaw is his soft heart, which allowed him to be used and abused by both Zhou and Zhao. And speaking of the heart, this leads us to our second leading man.

    Yang Guo is certainly no intellectual slouch, he's every bit the match of Huang Rong and possibly even exceeds Zhang Wu-ji in that department. However, like Zhang Wu-ji, he had a soft heart. Not only soft, it was brittle as glass. Sure, Yang Guo had a hard start in life. His father died before he was born and his mother died while he was still a child. However, while it's tough (and folly) to compare these things, Zhang Wu-ji had it tough too. Both his parents committed suicide right before his eyes. Yang Guo knew that his mother loved him and left him because she got sick. Yang Guo was able to hold on to the fact that his father was a hero (it wasn't true, but he didn't know that). Zhang Wu-ji had to grow up knowing his parents chose death over him! The kind of psychological issues that go into that is mind-boggling. But Zhang Wu-ji soldiered on. In fact, he only ever cried once, the day his parents died. After that he never cried again, he never felt sorry for himself. He kept going. Yang Guo, OTOH, could be found crying like a little baby in the snow as a teenager, bemoaning the fact that he had nobody (he still had his Uncle Guo) and that the only person who loved him (hi Gu Gu) was no where nearby. However, I think he can be forgiven this, he was still young. The thing that I believe is unmanly for Yang Guo to do was to kill himself because he thought his Gu Gu was dead! Now, I'm as much of romantic as the next guy (I love English Romantic poetry), however, it's pathetic for a guy to kill himself because someone he loves died. A man would mourn for a respectable period of time then pick himself up and move on with his life. It's this co-dependency of Yang Guo's that makes me think that he's really a bit less of a true man. It's natural to mourn, it's un-natural to give up.

    Sure, many people argue that Zhang Wu-ji and point to the fact that he was indecisive about which woman he wanted to be with. Can we rightfully blame him? The one thing that Zhang Wu-ji experienced that neither Guo Jing nor Yang Guo experienced was being spurned, used and betrayed by a girl they liked or loved. Guo Jing didn't love Hua Zhen except as a sister and Yang Guo laid his eyes on Xiao Longnu and never took them off her again. Zhang Wu-ji, however, was betrayed by the first love of his life and this was after she led him on for a period of time. I think it was this experience that made him less willing to commit to anyone, his trust had been betrayed, so he wasn't likely to trust again so soon.

    Ultimately, I think Zhang Wu-ji had the mental and emotional character to what one think another man should have. He's an intelligent, self-made man with the confidence to lead others and depend on no one except himself.
    Last edited by Dennis Chen; 03-03-08 at 07:02 PM.

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    Zhang Wuji isn't necessarily "kill myself because I lost my woman"-proof either.

    张无忌道:“不错。我今日寻她不见,恨不得自己死了才好。要是从此不能见她,我性命也是活不久长。小昭离我而去,我自是十分伤心。我表妹逝世,我更是难过。你……你后来这样,我既痛心,又深感惋惜。然而 ,芷若,我不能瞒你,要是我这一生再不能见到赵姑娘,我是宁可死了的好。这样的心意,我以前对旁人从未有过。”

    Zhang Wuji said he wanted to kill himself 3 times in the same paragraph.
    忽见柳荫下两个小孩子在哀哀痛哭,瞧模样正是武敦儒、武修文兄弟。郭芙大声叫道:「喂,你们在干甚麽?」武 修文回头见是郭芙,哭道:「我们在哭,你不见麽?」

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    Yang Guo wanted to the first time and actually tried it 16 years later. Zhang Wu-ji held the emotions for a bit, then he let it go and moved on. He had an appropriate time to mourn the loss of someone he loved, then he got over it. Plus, Zhang Wu-ji was 15 at the time. Yang Guo was 20 and 36, respectively.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Chen View Post
    Yang Guo wanted to the first time and actually tried it 16 years later. Zhang Wu-ji held the emotions for a bit, then he let it go and moved on. He had an appropriate time to mourn the loss of someone he loved, then he got over it. Plus, Zhang Wu-ji was 15 at the time. Yang Guo was 20 and 36, respectively.
    The passage I posted above was from the last chapter of HSDS.
    Zhang Wuji was missing Zhao Min to the point that he wanted to die.
    Not saying he would definitely do that if he couldn't find her, but he did sound a lot like mellow Yang Guo.
    忽见柳荫下两个小孩子在哀哀痛哭,瞧模样正是武敦儒、武修文兄弟。郭芙大声叫道:「喂,你们在干甚麽?」武 修文回头见是郭芙,哭道:「我们在哭,你不见麽?」

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    both were natural fighters esp. Yang Guo and I can't say the same about ZWJ. Sure he became a great but his fighting ability sucks he was lucky that Z3F was not his enemy. Had ZWJ meet any great level fighters he would get thrashed big time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ View Post
    Zhang Wuji isn't necessarily "kill myself because I lost my woman"-proof either.

    张无忌道:“不错。我今日寻她不见,恨不得自己死了才好。要是从此不能见她,我性命也是活不久长。小昭离我而去,我自是十分伤心。我表妹逝世,我更是难过。你……你后来这样,我既痛心,又深感惋惜。然而 ,芷若,我不能瞒你,要是我这一生再不能见到赵姑娘,我是宁可死了的好。这样的心意,我以前对旁人从未有过。”

    Zhang Wuji said he wanted to kill himself 3 times in the same paragraph.
    Ah yes. I didn't bother reading it completely because of the display errors. It's still jilted but, I see now that he's going through the list of all the women who left him, died on him and betrayed him. He can't lose another one. This sounds like the turning point for him, when he realizes that she's the one. Still, he didn't actually jump off a cliff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Exodus View Post
    both were natural fighters esp. Yang Guo and I can't say the same about ZWJ. Sure he became a great but his fighting ability sucks he was lucky that Z3F was not his enemy. Had ZWJ meet any great level fighters he would get thrashed big time.
    Fighting ability alone doesn't make a man. Dong Fang Bu Bai was the greatest fighter of his generation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Chen View Post
    The thing that I believe is unmanly for Yang Guo to do was to kill himself because he thought his Gu Gu was dead! Now, I'm as much of romantic as the next guy (I love English Romantic poetry), however, it's pathetic for a guy to kill himself because someone he loves died. A man would mourn for a respectable period of time then pick himself up and move on with his life. It's this co-dependency of Yang Guo's that makes me think that he's really a bit less of a true man. It's natural to mourn, it's un-natural to give up.
    That's perhaps your opinion, but it stands in sharp contrast to the ideals of 'true love' in the Chinese sense.

    In Chinese culture, the 'yuanyang', Mandarin ducks, can be considered one of the ultimate representatives of love, because Mandarin ducks mate for life. Myth has it that so deep is the love of each duck for its mate, that if one dies, the other will die from loneliness as well.

    The issue here is not a matter of 'manliness'; it is a matter of 'depth of love' and 'sincerity of love'; a true lover, a sincere 'yuanyang', according to Chinese tradition, would die with its lover and accompany them on the road to the Yellow Springs. By this measure, Zhang Wuji is far inferior to Yang Guo due to his wishy-washyness when it comes to the person he 'loves'. From what I recall, in 3rd edition, JY makes his wishy-washyness even more evident when it comes to the last chapter, where Wuji himself admits that out of all the girls, even he wasn't sure which one he loved the most.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    The issue here is not a matter of 'manliness'; it is a matter of 'depth of love' and 'sincerity of love'; a true lover, a sincere 'yuanyang', according to Chinese tradition, would die with its lover and accompany them on the road to the Yellow Springs. By this measure, Zhang Wuji is far inferior to Yang Guo.
    Is what you've delineated above what a lover would do? Or what a man would do? I couldn't imagine Guan Yu killing himself because his wife died. Or Zhang Fei or Zhao Yun, or any of the 5 Tiger Generals. No matter how romantic the notion. It think we can all agree that those 5 were all men.

    Xiao Feng certainly didn't die because Ah Zhu was dead.

    I'm not arguing that Zhang Wu-ji is a greater, better lover than Yang Guo or Guo Jing. If that was what I was arguing, then you're absolutely right and I'm completely wrong. But it isn't what I'm arguing. I'm arguing that Zhang Wu-ji is more of a man. Someone that isn't wholly co-dependent on the love of a woman.
    Last edited by Dennis Chen; 03-03-08 at 07:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Chen View Post
    Is what you've delineated above what a lover would do? Or what a man would do? I couldn't imagine Guan Yu killing himself because his wife died. Or Zhang Fei or Zhao Yun, or any of the 5 Tiger Generals. It think we can all agree that those 5 were all men.

    Xiao Feng certainly didn't die because Ah Zhu was dead.

    I'm not arguing that Zhang Wu-ji is a greater, better lover than Yang Guo or Guo Jing. If that was what I was arguing, then you're absolutely right and I'm completely wrong. But it isn't what I'm arguing. I'm arguing that Zhang Wu-ji is more of a man. Someone that isn't wholly co-dependent on the love of a woman.

    there's no way ZWJ is more of a man than either YG and esp. GJ there's no comparison whatsoever

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    Quote Originally Posted by Exodus View Post
    there's no way ZWJ is more of a man than either YG and esp. GJ there's no comparison whatsoever
    And your reasoning is?

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    isn't it obvious with the great north hero GJ he protected XY with his life to the end together with his family that really deserves respect.

    YG wasn't to bad either he travelled around helping people in need and killed the khan.

    so what did ZWJ do

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    Quote Originally Posted by Exodus View Post
    isn't it obvious with the great north hero GJ he protected XY with his life to the end together with his family that really deserves respect.

    YG wasn't to bad either he travelled around helping people in need and killed the khan.

    so what did ZWJ do
    If you don't know a thing about ZWJ, why, oh, why did you engage in this conversation? Do you want to learn more about ZWJ?
    Last edited by Dennis Chen; 03-03-08 at 07:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Chen View Post
    You're kidding right? You don't know anything about Zhang Wu-ji and so you automatically assume that Guo Jing and Yang Guo are better?
    what I meant is what did ZWJ do to make him more of a man than GJ or YG? the guy was fooled around by ladies like a baby

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Chen View Post
    Is what you've delineated above what a lover would do? Or what a man would do? I couldn't imagine Guan Yu killing himself because his wife died. Or Zhang Fei or Zhao Yun, or any of the 5 Tiger Generals. No matter how romantic the notion. It think we can all agree that those 5 were all men.

    Xiao Feng certainly didn't die because Ah Zhu was dead.
    Actually, he, ah, kinda did. As for the Five Tiger Generals, the discussion was 'true love', not 'marriage'. I'm sure you can understand that the two cannot be necessarily equated with each other. Your argument is also flawed simply because the Five Tiger Generals were considered 'manly' because of their other virtues (which ZWJ lacks, incidentally), not because they wouldn't have killed themselves over their wives.

    I'm not arguing that Zhang Wu-ji is a greater, better lover than Yang Guo or Guo Jing. If that was what I was arguing, then you're absolutely right and I'm completely wrong. But it isn't what I'm arguing. I'm arguing that Zhang Wu-ji is more of a man. Someone that isn't wholly co-dependent on the love of a woman.
    Ah, but if one accepts the argument you make, then basically the argument you are posing is: Any person who fulfills the classical Chinese idea of being truly in love (ie, dying when their true love dies), is not as manly as a person who is not. I do not find that argument to be compelling. In fact, if we carry this to its logical extremes, then a perfectly narcisstic person who cares for nothing and no one besides himself, and would be willing to die for no one, would be more of a 'man' than a Jesus, who would be willing to die for others!

    Basically, you are comparing apples and oranges. You are saying Zhang Wuji is 'more of a man' because he wouldn't want to die if his lover died. Yet, the simple, natural counter-argument would be that the reason he wouldn't want to die, is because he just didn't love her enough. In essence, if we follow classical Chinese cultural ideas about love, him not dying with his lover doesn't make him more or less manly; it only shows the relative lack of depth of his 'love'. And, vice versa for Yang Guo.

    The fundamental problem, I think, is that you are drawing on the concept of 'suicide' or 'accepting death' from a Western perspective, where it is considered a shameful, cowardly thing (and thus, not manly). Suicide is for the weak, the coward's way out. But in Chinese culture, suicide does not, for the most part, have that sort of negative stigma. How many stories do we have where a woman, rather than give up her chastity or be slandered, would kill themselves to 'prove their purity'? Gallant and heroic men who would rather kill themselves or be killed, than accept something they considered shameful?

    Willingness to die with ones lover is directly correlated to the depth of one's love. The correlation you attempt to draw between that, and 'manliness', simply doesn't exist in Chinese culture. True, committing suicide over a person's lover doesn't make one manly...but neither does it make one unmanly. It exists outside the 'manliness continuum'.
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 03-03-08 at 08:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    That's perhaps your opinion, but it stands in sharp contrast to the ideals of 'true love' in the Chinese sense.

    In Chinese culture, the 'yuanyang', Mandarin ducks, can be considered one of the ultimate representatives of love, because Mandarin ducks mate for life. Myth has it that so deep is the love of each duck for its mate, that if one dies, the other will die from loneliness as well.

    The issue here is not a matter of 'manliness'; it is a matter of 'depth of love' and 'sincerity of love'; a true lover, a sincere 'yuanyang', according to Chinese tradition, would die with its lover and accompany them on the road to the Yellow Springs. By this measure, Zhang Wuji is far inferior to Yang Guo due to his wishy-washyness when it comes to the person he 'loves'. From what I recall, in 3rd edition, JY makes his wishy-washyness even more evident when it comes to the last chapter, where Wuji himself admits that out of all the girls, even he wasn't sure which one he loved the most.
    That idea of love is illustrated by the white eagles (both Guo Jing's pair and their parents) and the Jin Wawas. Ma Yu even commented on the suicide of the elder white eagle as a noble thing, even though it left the eaglets they'd fought to protect parentless and facing death.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pannonian View Post
    That idea of love is illustrated by the white eagles (both Guo Jing's pair and their parents) and the Jin Wawas. Ma Yu even commented on the suicide of the elder white eagle as a noble thing, even though it left the eaglets they'd fought to protect parentless and facing death.
    Yes, exactly. Another excellent example, thank you.
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    So, by your estimation, Yang Guo dying with Xiao Longnu makes him more of a man than Zhang Wu-ji? As per Chinese romantic thought? I would argue that it would be Daoist thought, but not Confucian thinking. Men are fighters, fathers and brothers, before they are lovers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    The fundamental problem, I think, is that you are drawing on the concept of 'suicide' or 'accepting death' from a Western perspective, where it is considered a shameful, cowardly thing (and thus, not manly). Suicide is for the weak, the coward's way out. But in Chinese culture, suicide does not, for the most part, have that sort of negative stigma. How many stories do we have where a woman, rather than give up her chastity or be slandered, would kill themselves to 'prove their purity'? Gallant and heroic men who would rather kill themselves or be killed, than accept something they considered shameful?
    Oh please. It's not a Chinese thing. It's just as Western. The whole of Courtly Love, Lancelot and Guinevere, Hero and Leander, Romeo and Juliet. There's one Roman story who's name escapes me at the moment that is legendary for the woman who kills herself so as not to shame her husband after being raped (The Rape of Lucrece: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Lucrece). You can go back even further to Echo and Narcissus or Orpheus and Eurydice in Greek mythology. Suicide for love is as ingrained in Western thinking as it is in Chinese.

    Suicide to redeem honor is Japanese, not Chinese. Nobody in the Romance of The Three Kingdoms willingly committed suicide for any reason. If they were shamed, they would go and kill the person who shamed them to redeem their honor. They lived and died on the battlefield. They were men who put lord and country before all else. The only time they accepted death was when they were captured in battle. Even then, they were executed, they didn't commit suicide.

    In this, I suppose Zhang Wuji did fail as a man, he left Ming Cult in Yang Xiao's care and left Jiang Hu. But he never deigned to jump off a cliff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    Actually, he, ah, kinda did. As for the Five Tiger Generals, the discussion was 'true love', not 'marriage'. I'm sure you can understand that the two cannot be necessarily equated with each other. Your argument is also flawed simply because the Five Tiger Generals were considered 'manly' because of their other virtues (which ZWJ lacks, incidentally), not because they wouldn't have killed themselves over their wives.
    You mean honor, integrity and self-sacrifice? You think Zhang Wu-ji was lacking in these?
    Last edited by Dennis Chen; 03-03-08 at 08:56 PM.

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    Anyway, the real MAN of the Condor Trilogy is of course none other than Zhang Real Man, or as CC eloquently put it: REAL MAN Zhang.

    忽见柳荫下两个小孩子在哀哀痛哭,瞧模样正是武敦儒、武修文兄弟。郭芙大声叫道:「喂,你们在干甚麽?」武 修文回头见是郭芙,哭道:「我们在哭,你不见麽?」

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Chen View Post
    So, by your estimation, Yang Guo dying with Xiao Longnu makes him more of a man than Zhang Wu-ji? As per Chinese romantic thought? I would argue that it would be Daoist thought, but not Confucian thinking. Men are fighters, fathers and brothers, before they are lovers.
    Nope. By my estimation, Yang Guo dying with Xiao Longnu has absolutely squat to do with his manliness, be it positive or negative. It does make him a better lover, but that's pretty much the extent of it.


    Oh please. It's not a Chinese thing. It's just as Western. The whole of Courtly Love, Lancelot and Guinevere, Hero and Leander, Romeo and Juliet. There's one Roman story who's name escapes me at the moment that is legendary for the woman who kills herself so as not to shame her husband after being raped (The Rape of Lucrece: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Lucrece). You can go back even further to Echo and Narcissus or Orpheus and Eurydice in Greek mythology. Suicide for love is as ingrained in Western thinking as it is in Chinese.
    By Western, I was referring more towards 'modern' Western thought. PS: Your examples aren't very good. Lancelot and Guinevere never committed suicide for love, nor Echo and Narcissus, nor Orpheus and Eurydice (Orpheus went into Hades to bring her out, not to kill himself). Romeo and Juliet, I'll give you, but in the Western literary tradition, it is a very rare example of something that is all too common in the Chinese literary tradition. European courtly love =! Chinese concepts of love/suicide.

    Suicide to redeem honor is Japanese, not Chinese. Nobody in the Romance of The Three Kingdoms willingly committed suicide for any reason. If they were shamed, they would go and kill the person who shamed them to redeem their honor. They lived and died on the battlefield. They were men who put lord and country before all else. The only time they accepted death was when they were captured in battle. Even then, they were executed, they didn't commit suicide.
    That isn't correct. Suicide to redeem honor or to avoid shame is most definitely Chinese as well. Even ignoring all of the (many, many, many) stories about various women who killed themselves to prove their purity, in actual Chinese history, we have examples of famous, heroic, manly men. Such as the legendary Flying General, Li Guang, who would rather kill himself than submit to the shame of a court martial. Qu Yuan threw himself into a river upon seeing the state that his country had entered; I defy anyone to make the claim that Qu Yuan was unmanly or cowardly. Xiang Yu, rather than surrender or go back in shame and defeat, killed himself before the Yangtze river, something for which he has traditionally been lionized for, not denigrated. Movies and poems have been written about it, from Farewell My Concubine, to one of my favorite poems, "夏日绝句".

    “生当作人杰,死亦为鬼雄,至今思项羽,不肯过江东”
    Quote Originally Posted by RWX's translation
    "Upon birth one must be a heroic man; even in death one should be a hero amongst ghosts. To this very day we mourn Xiang Yu, unwilling to cross the Jiangdong."
    Is this a poem written for a person considered to be a coward?

    You mean honor, integrity and self-sacrifice? You think Zhang Wu-ji was lacking in these?
    Honor, integrity, and self-sacrifice does not a 'manly' man make; women can possess all of those qualities. A man must have the 'aura' of a man; he must have 男人的气质. Zhang Wuji does not possess it. This isn't a smear against him; in many cases, a 'manly' man probably wouldn't have performed as well as he did! Case in point, the Battle at Brightness Peak, a 'manly' man such as Xiao Feng probably would never have been able to resolve the situation in such a manner as Zhang Wuji did. But that still doesn't make Zhang Wuji more 'manly' than Xiao Feng!
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 03-03-08 at 09:40 PM.
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    Don't forget the most famous lovers' suicide of all, Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra's may be a bit iffy, as she chose to live and tried to charm Octavian, and only chose the asp after Octavian gave pretty strong hints she would lose her kingdom. Antony is a definite though, as he fell on his sword after hearing (falsely) of Cleopatra's suicide.

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