Cleopatra: Between Truth and Fiction
Everyone knows The Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. On the Internet and on pages of various magazines you can find tons of her “beauty secrets” or “methods of seduction.” Besides, students are often asked to write essays about her, but for many, that is not a piece of cake. The easiest way to write a good paper is to find a uni essay writing service and ask for help. Her complicated and in many ways tragic biography is perceived mainly through the prism of her love story with the Roman commander Marc Anthony, and nothing else. But real Cleopatra was a much more interesting figure than it is commonly believed. This article will talk about myths about Queen Cleopatra around the world.
Who is Cleopatra? To begin with, Cleopatra was not an Egyptian woman. Therefore, attempts to portray her in a typical Egyptian manner are most often wrong. By the time of her birth, Egypt had been ruled by the Macedonian dynasty of Ptolemies, from which Cleopatra was originated. A founder of the dynasty was Ptolemy I, who conquered Egypt in a vanguard of the army of Alexander the Great.
It was customary for the Ptolemies to marry relatives. So that, in general, all members of the genus remained Macedonians. The first two husbands and co-rulers of Cleopatra were her own brothers Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. And she, of course, spoke Greek.
Beauty is a subjective thing, and what is more, beauty standards are changeable. It is very doubtful that Cleopatra was like Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren or Elizabeth Taylor, who played her in various movies.
Cleopatra’s contemporaries did not consider her beautiful but noted that because of her intelligence she always sought what she wanted. As Plutarch wrote that Cleopatra beauty couldn’t be described as incomparable and striking at first sight, but her appeal was distinguished by irresistible charm. Therefore her appearance, combined with rarely convincing speeches, with tremendous charm, penetrated in every word, every movement, firmly crashed into the soul.
Thus, it is worth saying that the main weapon of Cleopatra was not beauty, but a sharp mind and charisma.
Childhood and Youth
There is no exact biographical information on Cleopatra’s early years. But, taking into account what happened in Egypt in those years, it can be assumed that she grew in very difficult conditions.
When Cleopatra was only 12 years old, her father Ptolemy XII was overthrown and expelled from Egypt, and his eldest daughter Berenice sat on the throne. Soon Pharaoh regained power, with the support of the Roman governor of Syria, Gabinius. At the same time, he not only killed Berenice but in general he massacred all her supporters. But Ptolemy himself became dependent on his Roman allies and their troops. In fact, Egypt lost its sovereignty and was increasingly ruled from Rome.
After Ptolemy XII death in 51 BC, Cleopatra’s brother became an heir to the throne, who at that time was only 9 years old. Cleopatra married him, and as a result, the 18-year-old girl was a head of state. But her brother was quickly growing up, so that already a year later he removed Cleopatra from power, relying on his supporters among the nobility.
And here her solid character first appeared. She fled to Syria, where she hired an army that defeated her brother’s army. It was at that moment that the omnipresent Romans intervened in the Egyptian game of thrones.
In Rome, at this moment, there was also a struggle for power between Guy Julius Caesar and Gneem Pompey. After Caesar defeated Pompey’s troops near Farsalom, he fled to Egypt. Young Ptolemy XIII, wanting to improve relations with Caesar, killed Pompey as soon as he set foot on Egyptian land. But Pharaoh miscalculated. Caesar was not happy about this news and personally arrived in Egypt to bury the head of the former enemy.
Wanting to remove Ptolemy from the throne, Caesar relies on Cleopatra and comes into conflict on her side. January 15, 47 BC Ptolemy’s forces were defeated at Lake Mareoti, and he himself drowned in the Nile. Cleopatra became the de facto ruler of Egypt under the Roman protectorate. Her official husband was another young brother, and her actual husband was Caesar. Then, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra had a son Caesarion the same year.
But in 43 BC Caesar was killed by conspirators. Right after that, a complete political confusion began in Rome. Cleopatra, who at that moment also lived in Rome, urgently left for Alexandria. Immediately upon arrival, her fake husband and younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, mysteriously died. According to one version, she poisoned him, because now she had a son who could become co-regent, and her brother turned out to be simply not needed.
After Caesar’s successors, Marc Antony, and Octavian won the civil war in Rome, it was Anthony who got the east of empire, including Egypt. For Cleopatra, it was time to act.
It is still unknown whether she had real feelings to Mark Antony or not. Upon learning that Antony loved luxury, she arrived on a ship with a gilded stern, purple sails, and silvered oars. Of course, she made an impression on the Roman, and their union became a matter of time.
For several years Marc Anthony and Cleopatra lived carefree, among feasts and drinking parties. She succeeded in tying Anthony to herself strongly enough.
But it was precisely the riotous lifestyle of Mark Antony that eventually became the formal reason for Octavian to start a war. In 32 BC the future emperor Octavian Augustus began a war against Antony. Cleopatra was accused of having seduced a Roman soldier, corrupted him, taught bad things, and now he forgot all the “Roman virtues,” becoming the “Eastern barbarian.”
It must be noted that in the words of Octavian was a bit of truth. Marc Anthony led the war as if it had long been turned from a glorified warrior into a coddled drunk. Losing the battle for the battle, he did not forget to roll up noisy parties for any reason or without it.
Already on August 1, 30 BC it became clear that it was all over. Further events are known in sufficient detail. Cleopatra, with her maidservants, locked herself in her own tomb and dismissed rumors of her suicide. Marc Anthony, learning of this, rushed at the sword. Later, he will die in her arms.
But the queen herself was not in a hurry to die. Apparently, she still hoped to negotiate with Octavian, and maybe even seduce him. But Cleopatra’s charisma did not impress him.
Contrary to popular belief, Cleopatra took poison, not from longing for Mark Antony. Just August 12, she became aware that Octavian plans to send her to Rome as a war trophy. To avoid shame, Cleopatra decided to commit suicide. But cunning Octavian, who wanted to lead the queen triumphantly through Rome streets, put a round-the-clock guard to her, who ensured that Cleopatra was not brought poison or a knife. Therefore, her suicide was quite original. In a pot with figs, they brought her a poisonous snake, the bite of which stopped the life of the legendary queen.