Over 2,000 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, 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.
A search on the Library of Congress yields 1,245 book titles. Most notably would be Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”.
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 pharaoh in a dynasty that endured approximately two centuries.
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 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 Caesar’s assassination, Cleopatra had her brother, Ptolemy XIV killed as well as her sister, Arsinoe in order to protect her throne. (Her brother Ptolemy XIII drowned in the Nile River.) Her next lover was Mark Antony who fell for false rumors that Cleopatra was dead and, as a result, fell to his sword, after which, Cleopatra ended her life.
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. Ever.
Of course, being a woman, “during her lifetime and in the century after her death, Roman propaganda…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…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.