Over two-thousand years later, the mere mention of her name continues to conjure up an image of beauty, grace and power over both empire and men. Cleopatra, however, was also intelligent, both ruthless and fearless, while feared in her day and admired still today.
A search on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) yields 188 titles of movies and TV episodes with the name Cleopatra in it. One of the most famous movie versions starred the late Elizabeth Taylor. http://www.imdb.com/find?q=cleopatra&s=tt&ref_=fn_al_tt_mr
A search on the Library of Congress yields 1,245 book titles. Most notably would be Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”. http://www.loc.gov/search/?q=cleopatra&all=true&in=original-format%3Abook
Why has Cleopatra remained such a fascinating pharaoh?
Born in 69 BC and believed to have committed suicide in 30 BC by asp (a cobra and symbol of divinity), Cleopatra was a daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and the final pharoah in a dynasty that endured approximately two centuries.
Antony fell for false rumors that Cleopatra was dead and as a result, fell to his sword, after which, Cleopatra ended her life.
Cleopatra did what she had to do to remain a ruler. At the age of eighteen, following the death of her father, she married her twelve-year old brother, then after his death, another brother to keep her throne secure. She seduced, Julius Caesar, legend has it, by being brought to his chambers rolled up in a carpet. After Ceasar’s assisination, Cleopatra had her brother, Ptolemy XIV killed as well as her sister, Arsinoe in order to protect her throne. Her next lover was to be Mark Antony.
Although Cleopatra was an Egyptian pharaoh, she was of Macedonian heritage. She spoke nine languages, including her native Greek and the Egyptian language of the land she ruled.
Like No Other Woman or Man
Of course, being a woman, Cleopatra “during her lifetime and in the century after her death, Roman propaganda, most of it originating with her enemy Octavian, painted Cleopatra as a dangerous harlot who employed sex, witchcraft and cunning as she grasped for power beyond what was proper for a woman. The poet Horace, writing in the late first century B.C., called her “A crazy queen…plotting…to demolish the Capitol and topple the [Roman] Empire.” Nearly a century later, the Roman poet Lucan labeled her “the shame of Egypt, the lascivious fury who was to become the bane of Rome.”
In a power-ploy in December 2013, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un assassinated his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek and branded him a traitor. Western civilization, especially, looked unfavorably upon this action. Imagine the uproar if any modern woman assassinated members of her family in order to retain power. Somehow, it is most difficult to believe, she would pull it off as admirably as Cleopatra is immortalized for.
Image By John William Waterhouse – http://allart.biz/photos/image/John_William_Waterhouse_14_Cleopatra.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17965996