Cleopatra cast a sheepish glance behind her veil of rubies and emeralds. Shy? No, that goddess of seduction does not know shyness. In his eyes, there is a determination and ferocity typical of a panther. The gold ornaments and the huge throne suit her as if they were part of herself and there was no one else who was worthy to wear them on her body or to sit on it. There is an aroma in the atmosphere, a siren song in the air that makes it impossible to stop contemplating that intelligent and mystical face that could well belong to a goddess. Cleopatra, the last queen of the Nile, smiles sweetly as her mind plots the next move, like a cobra waiting to strike.
Shrouded in a halo of mystery, the character of Cleopatra is one of the most popular in Ancient History. Queen from the early age of 18, she was one of the great leaders of forgotten Pharaonic Egypt and fiercely defended her right to the throne. Betrayed by her brother and husband, she was forced to flee and take refuge in the arms of Rome under the protection of the mighty Gaius Julius Caesar, a relationship of mutual help and fascination rather than true love. The other great name that remained engraved in history and in the heart of the queen was that of Marco Antonio, who accompanied her until her final fall and the twilight of her days.
The many information gaps that exist around the character make it the subject of numerous studies with the aim of shedding some light on its shadows. The novels, legends or films that her figure has starred in have made her an icon of sensuality and seduction, an intoxicating woman with high expectations about her place in the world and capable of stepping over anyone to stay on the throne that was hers. by birthright. Cleopatra was a queen in and out of her palace, a strong woman who, so long ago, went down in history as a capable and relentless leader. A legend written with snake venom.
Macedonian by birth with African blood
The well-known queen of the Nile country was born in 69 BC in Macedonia, and it was not until later that she visited the place where her family ruled, the Ptolemy dynasty, since the death of Alexander the Great. Daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and Cleopatra VI, the latest studies seem to indicate that her mother was of African origin.
Married to her brother and exiled by him
Cleopatra came to power at the age of 18. In his father’s will, it was stated that he should reign alongside his brother Ptolemy XIII, a 12-year-old boy with whom he did not have a very good relationship. The young pharaoh turned out to be extremely manageable and allowed himself to be persuaded by his advisers to seize power and expel his sister, who would take refuge in Alexandria while waiting to regain the throne.
Lover of two Roman generals
Cleopatra’s love life is one of the best-known aspects of her person, in part due to the legend that arises around her. During his exile in Alexandria, he met the great Julius Caesar, with whom he maintained a loving relationship until his murder and with whom he had a son, Cesarion. In 41 BC, he would meet the Roman general Marco Antonio, with whom he had a long affair. She married him and they had three children. The love between the general and Cleopatra is the best known and mythologized.
Rise to power
To face her brother, she gathered an army that was faithful to her and, aided by the power of her new lover, Julius Caesar, defeated the forces of Ptolemy XIII and was proclaimed Queen of Egypt. After starting an affair with Marco Antonio, they ruled together for more than a decade to maintain the independence of Egypt. Their mandate ended when Octavian, known as Augustus when he was named emperor, faced them and defeated them at the Battle of Actium.
Murdered his brothers
After defeating Ptolemy XIII and regaining power, Cleopatra began to rule with her younger brother, Ptolemy XV, until he was assassinated and replaced as co-regent by the son she had with Julius Caesar, Cesarion. Perhaps to avoid further betrayals by her relatives or because she did not intend for anyone to doubt her right to the throne, Cleopatra was responsible for the murder of the two remaining brothers: Ptolemy XIV and Arsínoe IV.
Shone for his intelligence
Although her undoubted charm is always talked about and she is considered a model of beauty, numerous texts seem to indicate that what really made her attractive was her intelligence. Plutarch, a historian estranged from the Egyptian queen, claimed that Cleopatra possessed an irresistible charm born of conversation. Studies seem to indicate that she spoke more than a dozen languages and that she was passionate about science, having received a comprehensive education in mathematics, philosophy, astronomy or public speaking.
Last queen of Ancient Egypt
Cleopatra ruled during the last declining years of the Ptolemaic dynasty. The previous death of her parents and all her siblings made her and her children the last members of this royal family. The only son he had with Julius Caesar, Caesarion, was assassinated by order of Octavian and the fate of his other offspring has been forgotten over time, although the documents indicate that they were taken prisoners of Rome. Cleopatra, with her death, put an end to the Pharaonic era and began the total domination of Rome over the lands of the Nile.
Makeup and care
The image of Cleopatra that has transcended history is that of a beautiful woman with black hair and eyes painted in shades of green or blue. The latest studies seem to indicate that this makeup was made based on lead and was used to protect the eyes from some diseases, a common practice in Ancient Egypt. In addition, the care that the Egyptian queen received, such as baths in donkey’s milk and honey, are well known.
Fond of poisons
Numerous documents seem to indicate that Cleopatra was fascinated by the world of poisons and that she used to experiment with various substances to find a lethal and painless formula. Some of the substances used could have been belladonna or snake venom, and this is why there is a widespread theory that he committed suicide by allowing himself to be bitten by an aspid snake. Her desire to find a quick and painless poison is often used to justify that the queen was counting on the possibility of defeat at some point in her life and her desire not to be caught alive.
Reincarnation of Isis
In Egyptian mythology, Isis is the main goddess of her pantheon. Sister and wife of Osiris, she represented the mother and the queen and was considered the goddess of all the gods. Perhaps by her own ambition, Cleopatra saw in herself a reincarnation of this deity, being known as ‘ The New Isis ‘. This divine personification in her person gave her enormous power and influence among her followers, who even came to worship her as a goddess.
Cleopatra and Marco Antonio seemed to share, in addition to their love and their lust for power, a fondness for drink and orgies. According to ancient sources, during the first winter they spent together they created a society in which they spent drinking until they fell unconscious, eating until they vomited, participating in orgies or going out to the streets of Alexandria in disguise to play tricks on its inhabitants.
Commander of his own fleet
The marriage of Cleopatra and Marco Antonio was used by Octavio, the former’s political rival, to discredit the Roman general claiming that he was a traitor seduced by an enemy queen of Rome. When her forces clashed at the Battle of Actium, Cleopatra herself commanded more than a dozen warships alongside Mark Antony’s fleet, but their combined efforts were not enough to defeat Octavian.
Death of the Lady of the Nile
After the defeat of Actium, Cleopatra and Marco Antonio retreated to Alexandria closely pursued by their rival. Marco Antonio, having read a false document that confirmed the death of his beloved, decided to commit suicide by stabbing his stomach. Cleopatra, alone and defeated, followed the same fate. Legend has it that he allowed himself to be bitten by an aspid serpent, a symbol of royalty in Egypt, but recent studies seem to indicate that it is unlikely that this was how he did it. A dagger or quick-acting tonic made from snake venom is more likely.
Cleopatra, with her suicide, carried out a last act of rebellion with which to oppose Octavio. The fact that she was still surrounded by servants loyal to her makes it more than likely that the queen had a funeral at her height. The resting place of this interesting woman, who already in her time did what was necessary to stay in power and not be dominated in a world of men, is still hidden under the sands of the desert. The place that almost all theories point to is the ruins of Taposiris Magna, 45km from Alexandria. It is the equivalent of the Valley of the Kings for the Ptolemaic dynasty, and inside it houses a temple dedicated to Osiris and Isis.
The month of August marks their final defeat
When Octavian was appointed emperor and was renamed Augustus, he had the opportunity to name a month to commemorate him. Instead of choosing September, the month of his birth, he decided that it would be the current August. It was during the eighth month of the year when Cleopatra and Marco Antonio were defeated and committed suicide and the new Roman emperor wanted to honor the defeat of two of his greatest enemies.
Reinterpretation in popular culture
The few confirmed data that are had about her and the intense life that the young queen had have made Cleopatra one of the most popular characters in popular culture. The image that has come down to us is that of an intelligent, calculating and indescribably beautiful woman, one of the first femme fatale that have survived to this day. Perhaps the most remembered version of Cleopatra is the one played by the stunning Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Cleopatra‘, the 1963 film that became one of the most expensive movies of its time: $ 44 million. The popular video game ‘ Assassins Creed: Origins‘narrates the disputes over power he had against his brother Ptolemy XIII.