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Transcript of Cleopatra
Cleopatra and her Significance as an Individual (Summary)
Cleopatra VII was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty, ruling Egypt from 51 BC - 30 BC. She is celebrated for her beauty and her love affairs with the Roman warlords Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. She is widely recognised for bringing prosperity and peace to a country that was bankrupt and split by civil war. To come into power, she used her intelligence, power over men and her manipulative personality to become queen of Egypt and take all control of the nation.
Aims and Motives
Positive and Negative Actions
• After Cleopatra committed suicide, Egypt become a province of the roman empire
• After the Ides of March, Cleo and her son fled to Alexandria. She feared her life and that of her son.
• Essentially caused the death of mark Antony: Marriage and divorce to Octavia (peace treaty, left Octavia for Cleo, sparked war, Antony was defeated. Antony killed himself by falling on his own sword in 30 BC
• Gained protection for her people by becoming allies with the Romans, impacted women in general and history by being a strong female ruler.
• Cleopatra successfully expanded her kingdom
• Taxed people heavily to pay off her father’s debt. She let the country’s infrastructure decay. Appropriated the papyrus trade all for herself
• Her biggest mistake was overreaching when she tried to take on an army much more powerful than her own and subsequently lost her life and her reign
• She put in an irrigation system, while the Nile was low the people could still water the olive trees.
• Highly intelligent, sagacious politician, brought prosperity and peace to a country that was bankrupt and split by civil war
• Authoritarian, arrogant, indolent (refused exertion)
• Not often associated with her, but entirely true, is her brilliance and her devotion to Egypt, Alexandria especially
• Quick-witted, fluent in nine languages, mathematician, very good business woman, genuine respect for Caesar as he was the same as her, very intelligent and quick-minded
• She murdered two of her siblings
• Questions have also rise about her actual beauty, which may have been exaggerated by Hollywood and Elizabeth Taylor. Debate has also risen about relationships with Caesar and mark Antony. Was she an immoral seductress or did she really love and respect men who just both happened to be incredibly powerful leaders at the time?
• Cleopatra has been judged by history in a sharp and obvious way. Some say that ‘no other queen of the ancient world carries with her the intrigue of Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra VII.’ The information regarding her has been built with a captivating and magical appeal. She still seems to have remained rich, ruthless and incredibly captivating. Some judge her poorly; others judge her with respect and gratitude.
By Claudia and Jacqui
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Primary Sources 3 and 4 (Extracts from "Antony and Cleopatra")
Primary Source 1 (Coin of Cleopatra)
Primary Source 2 (Sculpture of Cleopatra)
• Exiled by her own brother, Cleopatra was reinstalled as queen with the help of Caesar and his military support.
• Began a political and romantic affair with mark Antony in 41 BC, Caesar had been assassinated in 44 BC
• Cleopatra realised that the Ptolemaic strength was failing and that of the Roman Empire was rising and that it would be wise to establish connections and relationships with powerful Roman men.
• Some believe that her motives for having relationships with Caesar and mark Antony were to do what she felt was necessary to save Alexandria, her home
• Cleopatra had dreams of becoming the empress of the world
• After the ides of March (44 BC: Caesar’s assassination), her brother Ptolemy xiv dies of poisoning, undoubtedly on her orders. She wanted to make her son co-regent with her as Ptolemy xv.
• After the death of Caesar, she needed another Roman leader to protect her, Antony was so captivated by her that he gave up his plans for the invasion of the Parthians empire and went back with her to Alexandria instead
• Got Antony to kill her little sister Arsinoe as she was a rival for the throne
• Herod, the ruler of Judea, was a competent ruler who didn’t fall for Cleopatra’s charm and tricks and despite her efforts to seduce him, completely rejected her. Cleopatra, was enraged and began to do whatever she could to harm Herod’s interests
• Her main motivation is believed to have been staying in personal power, at any cost.
• Now that Antony was a loser, Cleopatra needs someone to protect her. Octavian communicated to her that if she killed Mark that he might work out something with her, she knew this was not the case.
• Last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty (Ptolemy: an ancient dynasty of Macedonian kings who ruled Egypt from 323 BC to 30 BC; founded by Ptolemy I and ended with Cleopatra.)
• Father Ptolemy XII died in 51 BC, Cleopatra become co-regent with her 10 year old brother Ptolemy xiii. They were married, in keep with Egyptian tradition
• She was 18 when she took the throne, had two older sisters and a younger sister as well as two younger brothers, her father killed the oldest sister, Berenice, but Cleopatra was responsible for the death of her other siblings.
• It is thought that Caesar had planned to make Cleopatra the sole ruler of Alexandria, that she would be his puppet for Rome.
• Mark Antony gave her Cyprus, the Cilician coast, Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, Judea and Arabia lumber from Cilician coast
• She put in an irrigation system
• Gained stability for her country, spoke English fluently, last pharaoh of Egypt, seduced two most powerful leaders in the world
• Dealt with a misogynistic Egyptian society
• Overcame the oppressive nature of a misogynistic Egyptian law, how females had to have male consorts no matter what age etc… excluded her brother and eventually had him killed.
• After Antony’s death, Cleopatra was taken to Octavian, so she had an asp (Egyptian cobra) brought to her hidden in a basket of figs. Significance of asp?
• Fought for her country, charismatic, a born leader, ambitious monarch
• She was a writer, wrote a medical treatise called cosmetics (hence the modern day word) – included remedies for hair loss and dandruff
• Throughout history, her story has been told and retold, and often reinterpreted. Cleopatra’s image has been reinterpreted throughout centuries, in light of each proceeding style of art and fashion.
• To this very day, Cleopatra remains an extremely famous figure in Western culture. Her legacy survives in so many different works of art
• In most depictions, Cleopatra is put forward as an incredible beauty and her successive conquests of the world’s most powerful men are taken to be exact proof of her power and beauty.
• Feminine icon of power and change
• Bore Caesar a son (Caesarion) – term
• She was strong willed, passionate but not promiscuous.
• Faced disdain and hatred due to her being brought over by Caesar. The conservative republicans were very offended when established Cleopatra in his home, calling herself the new Isis (A goddess of fertility, wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.), was the subject of much gossip.
• Mark Antony: limited strategic and tactical abilities, blue blood (cold-blooded), drinking problems, womanizer, vulgar and ambitious
• It is said mark Antony was so infatuated with her she could get whatever she wanted out of him, including the assassination of her younger sister, Arsinoe
• Her favourite oath was: as surely as I shall yet dispense justice on the roman capital
• Antony drove her insane, she hated his lack of intelligence and his need for excess
• Her visit and establishment in Rome when she was with Caesar angered the people, so it was probably the final impetus and motive for the people to kill him
• She had four children, only one survived to adulthood
• While death by snakebite isn’t unheard of, it was most likely that it wasn’t lethal
• She was not Egyptian, she was the last of the Macedonian Greek dynasty
• Talented, resourceful, very charming, but ruthless
• Her life was one of sadness and tragedy rather than glamour
• Most evidence points to her being Greek, but there are those who believe she was from black African descent.
• After her death, Caesarion (her son by Caesar) was strangled and the other children of Cleopatra were raised by Antony’s wife, Octavia.
How has history judged her?
Yes and no.