Who was Cleopatra and the myths that surround her?
Egyptian history is full of myths and legends. Their splendid beauty is unquestionable and never in history was a matter of debate. Yet when one talks about Cleopatra, talking about her beauty becomes the center of attraction but that doesn’t diminish her ruling strength in any way. It is interesting because the large civilization sees Cleopatra with preconceived notions about only her ‘beauty’. But was Cleopatra just the synonym for beautiful?
This article will revolve around the realm of Cleopatra’s reign for Sex, Race, Empire, Power, Love, and Beauty. Clever and inculcate, Cleopatra ruled ancient Egypt for almost three decades. She never was whole sole ruler but in fact ruled as a coregent beside her father, brothers, and sons. Yet, it is Cleopatra that forever remained intact in Roman history. Especially her relationship with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony saved her a position in eternal chronicles. Initially being Greek she ruled Egypt because her family migrated a lot earlier and thus was known as Macedonian-Greek-Ptolemaic. Since no well-preserved or contemporary accounts are present about her life, it’s tough to piece together her reign with much certainty. However, that doesn’t mean that her alliances with others can hide the power she holds.
She was the seventh Cleopatra of history, yet the only Cleopatra who is remembered throughout!
Cleopatra and her love for the throne
Cleopatra VII born in 70 or 69 B.C was the daughter of Ptolemy XII and descendant of Ptolemy I Soter. Her mother was Cleopatra V Tryphaena, the king’s wife, who according to many contexts was his half-sister. Cleopatra ruled along with her father for four years. In 51 B.C. king Ptolemy passed away and the throne was given to then 18 years-old Cleopatra and her younger half-brother Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator with whom she was married. Cleopatra since a young age was very clever and well educated; she perhaps was the only queen who learned to read and write in not only Egyptian but also 9 different languages. During her rule, it was the first time that Egyptian was used as an official language. She was a ruler who enlightened the positions of scholars and also enjoyed their company. Her irresistible charm always attracted men towards her. Her iconic personality helped her to work alongside men with quite ease. She believed herself to be the only living Goddess and this personality made Cleopatra sought absolute power in Egypt.
And this was the reason that Ptolemy XIII advisors told him to get rid of Cleopatra. Soon she was forced to flee to Syria, where the brave Cleopatra formed an army of her own. The following year she attacked Pelusiam and was ready to face Ptolemy XIII in a civil war. When General Pompey was murdered with whom Ceasar was engaged in a war, Ptolemy XIII seeks support from Julius Ceasar. Cleopatra on the other hand used her beauty to gain Julius Caesar on her side by smuggling herself in. She tugged herself inside a carpet and her servant carried her to the chamber of Julius Ceasar. Bewitched by her wits, beauty, and the stagecraft Ceasar made Cleopatra his mistress and helped get rid of her enemy. Ptolemy XIII flew back to Alexandria where he believed to be had drowned in the River Nile. Then Julius Ceasar established Cleopatra and another younger half-brother Ptolemy XIV, as the rulers of Egypt and gained joint share with him in the royal power. Cleopatra made sure that the name of her first husband was erased from the kingdom; thus she expunged his image from all the coins. She was also alleged to kill all her brothers and sisters who were isle to the throne.
Cleopatra and her love affairs with Julius Ceasar and Mark Antony
Till 47 B.C. Cleopatra and Ceasar’s love flourished and she gave birth to Ceasar’s son, named Ptolemy Caesar or Caesarion. Though Ceasar never formally accepted him as his son, Rome was furious. Because, Ceasar never had any child with his wife Calpurnia, or from any of his previous wives, that made Caesarion the sole heir to the Ceasar’s throne which was unacceptable to the Romans. When the situation seemed intolerable he made his grandnephew Octavian heir to his throne. In 44 B.C. when Julius Ceasar was assassinated, Cleopatra along with his son flew back to Egypt where her husband was ruling. She allegedly killed Ptolemy XIV and was then free to rule Egypt with her son.
But this does not end her relationship with the Romans. Upon the death of Ceasar, both Octavion and Mark Antony were seeking powers. In order to gain the throne, Mark Antony who was an acquaintance of Cleopatra while her stay in Rome sought to attack the Parthian empire. Cleopatra who lost her alliance with Rome needed another strong leader and hence agreed to military cooperation. Upon her arrival at Tarsus, Mark Antony was charmed by her beauty and dropped his plan to invade Parthian. He was determined to protect Cleopatra and her throne. In 41 B.C. both Antony and Cleopatra formed a drinking bar known as “The Inimitable Livers.” In 40 B.C. when Antony returned to Rome, Cleopatra gave birth to his twins named Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene.
Back in Rome, Antony wished for an alliance with Octavion, who ordered Antony a diplomatic marriage with his sister Octavia. But soon Mark realized that he cannot work with Octavion and hence returned to Egypt where he married Cleopatra. This marriage was not only unacceptable by Roman laws but also a betrayal to his previous wife Octavia. During this time Cleopatra with the help of Mark Antony waged victory on Cyprus, Crete, Cyrenaica (Libya), Jericho, and large portions of Syria and Lebanon. Later she gave birth to the third child of Antony, Ptolemy Philadelphos. With Egypt growing stronger day by day, Octavion resorted to peace with Egypt and Antony named Ceasar’s son Ptolemy Caesar heir next to Octavion. And from hence began the war between Rome and Egypt as Ptolemy Caesar was never initially recognized as their heir by the Romans.
In 31 B.C. Octavion forces attacked Egypt; Cleopatra along with Antony led the army and inspired her soldiers to fight bravely. She bravely led her own fleet but later defeated. Octavion forces were strongly defeating Antony and Cleopatra. She flew back to Egypt and Mark Antony who heard a rumor about Cleopatra’s suicide fell on his sword. The wounded Antony was then taken to Cleopatra where he finally succumbed to his injuries dying in the arms of his lover. Cleopatra was now defeated, thus before being captured by Octavion she consumed snake poison and died at the age of 39 inside her chamber. She was later buried alongside Antony on her request while Octavion waved victory over Egypt. Later, her son Ptolemy Caesar was tricked and murdered.
Cleopatra was the last independent Pharoah of Egypt and the last member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Her reign brought Egypt 22 years of prosperity. Many don’t know but Cleopatra also wrote a book named ‘Cosmetic’. In her book, she provided subjects of medical and pharmacological work. It showed detailed remedies for medical problems that could affect physical appearance. Though being highly criticized behind her back, Cleopatra was indeed a style icon of that time. Clearly one of the most remarkable women of history, women till age inspires to be like her.