Romanticizing an historical figure is nothing new. Many have been over the years including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar, King Arthur and many others. One figure stands out in history as an intriguing, passionate and yet clever leader. That is Cleopatra, the Egyptian leader who became known as the Queen of the Nile. She headed Egypt, which was a world power at the time and she romanced some of Rome’s greatest leaders including Caesar. In books, movies, and a few plays, Cleopatra has been glamorized as a Hollywood starlet. The real Cleopatra may not have been Elizabeth Taylor, but she still lived a fascinating life that still captures the imagination of historians and movie buffs alike.
Cleopatra VII Philopator was born in January 69 B.C. She shared her role as ruler of Egypt with her father and brothers before she became its sole leader. Cleopatra did achieve Pharaoh status. She was the last Pharaoh of Egypt.
Her famous liaison with Julius Caesar assisted her hold on Egypt’s throne. When he was assassinated, she paired with Marc Anthony, a Roman general. She had three children with Marc Anthony and one with Caesar. Caesarion, Cleopatra’s son with Caesar, was executed on orders from Augustus Caesar, most likely by strangulation.
Cleopatra spoke Greek as her first language; however, she did take the time to learn Egyptian, something that made her more popular with the Egyptians. In addition, Cleopatra learned the ways and beliefs of the Egyptians solidifying her position as Pharaoh even more.
Cleopatra’s death has been just as glamorized as her life. Strabo, a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher, records that Cleopatra died as a result of an asp bite. Poets in Rome also mention Cleopatra’s death by asp. Other stories say that Cleopatra died from a toxic ointment. The reason for her suicide stems from the fact that Actium and Julius Caesar Octavian, who later became Augustus Caesar, defeated Marc Anthony in battle. It is believed Cleopatra died Aug. 12, 30 B.C.
Cleopatra has become known as a seductress of sorts, someone who used her sexuality to gain what she wanted. While it cannot be augured that Cleopatra romanced some of the great leaders of her day, it can also be said she demonstrated patriotism while ruling Egypt. Regardless, Cleopatra is still considered one of the most storied and romanticized figures in the annuals of history. Read more about Cleopatra at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/