The most famous woman of the ancient world is Cleopatra. Already in our time, her image thanks to movies and novels acquired a kind of romantic touch. Cleopatra is considered to be an ideal beauty and a devoted lover. The history of her life and death inspired many writers, artists, directors. Many girls dream of even repeating the “career” of the Egyptian queen, with another, of course, the finale.
Cleopatra is considered not only a beautiful, but also a determined, intelligent woman. Only it should be noted that the legends about the merits of the sensual queen began to form after her death. In different epochs Cleopatra looked different, depending on the public views. She seemed a fair ruler with love victories, it turned out to be a smart beauty with a strong overlord, and even a calculating careerist, who fully used all her talents and natural data.
In reality, everything was much more complicated and not so romantic. Cleopatra VII Philopator managed to be married to her two younger brothers, she was the mother of four children and it was the end of the dynasty. It turns out that practically everything that we know about this really extraordinary woman is myths.
Cleopatra was an Egyptian.
Cleopatra represented the Ptolemaic dynasty, which is still considered Greek or Macedonian. Founded this kind of ally of Alexander of Macedon, the commander of Ptolemy. According to legend, he even was related to the great conqueror himself. After the Macedonians captured Egypt, it was Ptolemy who was appointed satrap or ruler of this ancient country. He founded his dynasty, whose representatives harbored the purity of blood, marrying their own sisters. There is information that the mother of Cleopatra could be some kind of nameless concubine, but in general the nationality of the queen can be traced easily. The last representative of the Ptolemaic dynasty was not a full-blooded Egyptian, but rather a Macedonian or even a Greek in the broad sense.
Cleopatra spoke in her native Egyptian language.
To the credit of Cleopatra herself, it should be noted that she was almost the only representative of her dynasty, who began to teach the language of the people submissive to her. For the first time in 300 years of Ptolemaic rule, their representative spoke to the Egyptians in their language. Plutarch also wrote that the queen, in addition to Egyptian, also possessed Jewish, Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Persian and other languages. But her native language was still Greek, as for all Ptolemies. And with Caesar the beauty was probably explained in her native language, he knew him very well. But Cleopatra did not speak Latin.
Cleopatra was an autocratic queen.
Formally, Cleopatra was indeed the queen of Egypt. However, she possessed full power only from time to time, and it was not necessary to talk about the full-fledged management of an independent state. In the ancient world, women in general always had a secondary role. So in Egypt – to reign independently, Cleopatra simply could not. After the death of her father, she shared the throne with her 9-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII, becoming his official wife. But even in this status the 17-year-old woman could not get power – on behalf of the pharaoh the courtiers actually drove Cleopatra out of the capital. Only Gaius Julius Caesar managed to return to the throne of the young queen, becoming her lover. Egypt, although rich, did not have independence. The country was in the status of the most important vassal of militant Rome. Caesar appeared here very opportunely in the company of legionaries. The brother and husband of the disgraced beauty were immediately removed from power, and another young brother, Ptolemy XIV, ascended the throne. His wife officially became Cleopatra. In fact, she lived with Caesar. Her reign Egypt can not be called independent, because the queen in all subordinated to her powerful patron. Caesar even did not hesitate to call to his “independent” ruler of a foreign country.And the period of the rule of Cleopatra after the death of his lover was marked by the beginning of the looting of the local population by the legionaries. And the queen could do nothing with them, until Rome intervened. Her next lover, the ruler of the eastern part of the empire, Mark Antony, formally gave Cleopatra more power. But again she had to please Rome. And the civil war that had begun between Antony and Octavian destroyed the queen herself and Egypt.
Cleopatra was a beautiful woman.
When creating this woman’s cult, such a statement is the cornerstone. But those paintings that came to us from the Renaissance, depicted Cleopatra in accordance with the standards of beauty of the time. Changed the era, changed ideals, and Cleopatra herself acquired new features in the fantasies of the masters. And the modern perception of the queen is inspired by the juicy images of Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh and Monica Bellucci. But no one can say exactly how Cleopatra looked exactly. The photo was not invented yet, so take into account only busts that are more or less close to the time of the queen’s life. But on those who are determined precisely by her image, she appears as a woman with a thick lower lip, a hooked nose and a narrow forehead. But far more objective in this case is the opinion of contemporaries who described the standards of that time. And the incredible beauty of Cleopatra began talking a couple of centuries after her death. It is worth saying that at that time a rumor appeared about the extreme depravity of the queen. Historians question these sources of legends. And the most authoritative is the description of Plutarch. Cleopatra, he mentioned, telling in his “Comparative Biographies” about Mark Antony. The historian named the main merits of the queen the ability to communicate, the gift of persuasion and a beautiful voice. And the beauty of Cleopatra was not outstanding and did not strike at first sight. It should be taken into account that Plutarch lived close to the period described and it was believed that he also sympathized with Cleopatra. So researchers believe that Cleopatra’s main weapon was not her beauty at all, but her mind and desire to find a common language, which was especially flattering to men. Cleopatra was sensual and romantic in nature.
There is a legend about how Cleopatra got into the chambers of Caesar – she was brought there wrapped in a carpet. And when it was unfolded, suddenly a beautiful woman appeared before the great commander. Caesar was overwhelmed by her courage, becoming the lover of the Egyptian queen. But this romantic story has its own background. At the time of meeting Cleopatra, Caesar himself was already over 50 years old. He was an intelligent and resolute politician who had become better at intrigue. But nothing is known about his romanticism. On the contrary, Caesar became famous for his numerous amorous adventures, even his legionaries sang, so that the inhabitants hide their wives, because “the bald debauchee” enters the city. In the struggle for the throne of charm, Cleopatra played a role, but Caesar also had his own cold calculation. After all, the queen was completely devoted to him. What to do with a teenager surrounded by advisers, the Romans preferred dealing with a beautiful woman who also visited his chambers. Over time, Caesar will create a gilded statue in memory of his mistress, but in his will will not mention anything not about her, nor about their joint child, Caesarion. But the next Roman lover of the queen, Mark Antony, got into her network much more thoroughly. True, this required much more serious preparation. Cleopatra feasted for several days with her influential friend, arranging lavish receptions. True, such a demonstration of luxury and wealth cost the treasury dearly, besides, the queen made many gifts. Anthony proved to be simpler than his predecessor. Cleopatra realized that her new chosen one was more soldier than the politician. That’s why the appropriate line of conduct was chosen. Cleopatra began to joke with unpretentious military themes, to support Antony in his hooligan antics. So he gradually fell in love with his charming girlfriend.But in fact more recently Cleopatra chose who would be her new chosen one, wishing to choose the future winner in the Roman squabbles. In the end, the correct opinion about the “romantic nature” was made by the Italian historian Guglielmo Ferrero. He described Cleopatra as a completely cold and dispassionate person, by nature not capable of sincere feelings.
Cleopatra was an ideal wife.
After the Queen met Caesar, she immediately unleashed an internecine war with her lawful husband and brother Ptolemy. Tom had to fight with strong Romans, which led to the death of the legitimate pharaoh. And Cleopatra began to enjoy life with her patron, Caesar. Arriving in Rome, she immediately gained many enemies from the ill-wishers of her lover and even from his friends. When the heat reached a critical level, the conspirators killed Caesar. Cleopatra returned to Egypt, where her second lawful spouse, Ptolemy XIV, soon died. They say that he was poisoned, but to whom was this death so profitable, as not Cleopatra? Supporting all of Mark Antony, the queen of Egypt began to fight on his side with Octavian. But she alienated her friends from the lover of her intrigues. Preparation for the fighting was reduced to feasts and parties. In the decisive naval battle near the promontory, Cleopatra, with half the fleet at first idle, and then at the decisive moment, and did prefer to withdraw forces. After it rushed the broken Marc Antony, whose surrender was only a matter of time.
Cleopatra committed suicide, unable to survive the death of a loved one.
After the very defeat, Cleopatra, along with her beloved, went to the capital of Egypt. There was no hope of victory. The queen waited for Octavian to come. And while she spent all her free time at feasts, vowing to die with Mark Antony. But with the arrival of the Romans, she preferred not to rush to fulfill her vow, while her lover committed suicide. Cleopatra, however, surrendered. Historians believe that this was her next tricky trick – so she tried to seduce Octavian already. But he was closely associated with her previous Roman lovers – the heir of the first and the enemy of the second. Only now this battle was originally turned against her. Yes, and its time has already passed. Cleopatra was 39 years old, and she managed to give birth to four children by that time. Octavian was not as simple as Antony, but a cunning and prudent politician. Cleopatra quickly realized why she was being held captive – the Romans were preparing to demonstrate the defeated queen in the course of her triumph. Cleopatra would have to play the role of a trophy and a valuable exhibit, along with decorations, outlandish beasts and plants. Then the queen preferred to kill herself with the help of poison, and at the same time her two maids. Thus ended the history of Cleopatra and the entire Ptolemaic dynasty, and with them the independence of Egypt.
Cleopatra did not receive any special education.
In Greece, it really was not accepted to somehow teach girls especially. But in Egypt things were different. Cleopatra lived in the royal palace in the neighborhood of the Alexandria Library, which allowed her to get a brilliant education. One of her biographers in general noted that her knowledge of the queen little inferior to Caesar. She was well versed in the issues of arithmetic, literature, astronomy, geography and other sciences. It is known that Cleopatra was proficient in many languages, which was also impossible without serious preparation. And she was the only representative of the dynasty, which spoke in the language of its subjects. Even the enemies of Cleopatra celebrated her oratorical talents and sharp mind.
Cleopatra was very emancipated.
And this is the truth. In ancient Egypt, women had the same rights as men. They inherited property in equal shares with their brothers, could independently manage their property and even had the right to divorce. Destiny had prepared Cleopatra for the role of a powerless queen, but she was able to change the situation.After the death of her husbands, Cleopatra began to manage the country independently, including external affairs. But other Egyptian queens ruled with their husbands. These are Nefertiti, the wife of Achenaton, and Nefertiti, the wife of Ramses II. The love affair with Caesar was an amazing event for that time. Not only did they have different nationalities, so this novel was also the conscious choice of the queen. None of her male relatives prepared such a connection.
Cleopatra was a popular queen.
Based on the number of her images that are created in literature, painting, cinema, music, there can be no doubt about it. But they appreciated Cleopatra and contemporaries. She managed very well to deal with domestic affairs. The people supported their queen, her reign was marked by the absence of riots. In the Greek papyrus 35 years BC. Cleopatra is called only as Philopatris, that is, “loving his homeland.” According to Plutarch, it was the closest to the people from the whole Ptolemaic dynasty. Only now the queen played politics and gave the Romans too many liberties, which the Greek bourgeoisie angered. This also gave rise to negative memories of the queen.
Cleopatra was cruel and ruthless.
This statement is truthful only in part. On the one hand, in the struggle for power, Cleopatra was forced to kill her second husband, and, most likely, other brothers and sisters. For the ruling Hellenes, this scenario is quite traditional. So it is not necessary to consider Cleopatra more cruel than there were others in those days. Yes, and her father at the same time got rid of its many competitors. But the myth of the cruelty of the queen has much survived her. In the XIX century, even there were legends about the fact that Cleopatra offered a night of love to everyone who is ready to part with life for this. Most likely, this myth appeared thanks to Plutarch. He wrote that Cleopatra liked to try the poisons she had created on the people sentenced to death.
Cleopatra committed suicide by being bitten by a snake.
The last moments of the life of the legendary queen and the circumstances of her death remain mysterious. The most common version says that Cleopatra preferred to commit suicide with the help of a poisonous snake when she learned about the death of Mark Antony. The basis of this legend is the fact that the cobra is a symbol of royal power. However, if Cleopatra wanted to commit suicide, she would clearly choose a different method, less painful and faster. She was a connoisseur of poisons. Cleopatra would like to preserve her beauty even after death. In addition, it is rumored that her numerous enemies in Rome simply arranged her poisoning, setting her up as suicide.