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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cleopatra V!I

The woman we think of when we think of Cleopatra is a georgeous vixen who played the role of UN from her bedroom. Err not exactly.

Cleopatra was the daughter of her mother and uncle, incestous marriage was common then as it was believed royal blood was to be untainted. She co ruled with her father Ptolomy III, but her throne was challenged by others who sought power in Egypt. She married her brother Ptolomy XIV, while her older brother (Ptolomy XIII) usurped her throne. Rome was becoming an ever increasing threat as its power grew. Julius Ceasar became so popular he was voted to become sole ruler of the empire.

The Egyptian army was no match for the Romans, and Cleopatra decided to make an alliance.
She arranged to have a huge carpet delivered to the 54-year-old Caesar. When he unrolled it, he found the 22-year-old former queen wrapped inside. She asked for Caesar's help against her brother. Caesar and Cleopatra became lovers, and Cleopatra got what she wanted from him. The Roman general led his army to capture and kill the people who removed her from power. Ptolemy XIII drowned in the Nile while trying to flee.

Julius Caesar was very popular with the Roman people. They named him dictator. Cleopatra was not popular with the Romans, however. She had called herself the "new Isis" and she didn't worship the Roman gods.
The senators of Rome were threatened Julius Caesar's popularity and power. Caesar used his power to make many changes in Rome, often without approval from the Senate. A year after his election as dictator, the Roman people elected Caesar "dictator for life." The Roman senators were outraged. On March 15, 44 B.C., Caesar was met by a mob of sixty senators who stabbed him to death.

Cleopatra left Rome with her son in fear of their own lives and they returned to Egypt. There she murdered her husband (and brother) Ptolemy XIV and named her four-year-old son as the new king. She thought that she was once again in control of Egypt.
After Caesar's murder, Rome was in turmoil (confusion, chaos, civil war). Several armies competed for control. The two greatest generals were Mark Antony and Octavian. Octavian was the adopted son of Julius Caesar, but Mark Antony led a larger army.
When Antony asked Cleopatra to meet with him, Cleopatra decided that she had another opportunity to return to power both in Egypt, and in Rome. She had made one ruler of Rome fall in love with her. Could she conquer another Roman leader's heart? She agreed to meet with Mark Anthony in 42 B.C. and her royal ship was prepared to take her to him.

A legend says that Cleopatra dressed herself as Venus, the Roman goddess of love. She filled her ship with so many rose petals that the Romans knew of her fragrance before they could see her ship. The boat was sailed by her maids, who were dressed as sea nymphs (fairies in Roman mythology). She reclined under a gold canopy, fanned by boys in Cupid costumes.
At their first meeting, Antony was immediately love-struck with the Egyptian queen. Forgetting his responsibilities, he accompanied Cleopatra to the Egyptian city of Alexandria and spent the winter with her there.

Mark Anthony and Cleopatra became lovers.The Roman people were disgusted by the way Antony had treated Octavia, his Roman wife. They were also angry to hear that Cleopatra and Antony were calling themselves gods, new Egyptian gods! Worst of all, in 34 B.C. Antony gave away large chunks of the Roman Empire as gifts to Cleopatra and her children. He made one of his children with Cleopatra the king of Armenia, another the queen of Cyrenaica and Crete, and the third the king of Syria. Caesarion, her child with Julius Caesar, was proclaimed the "King of Kings," and Cleopatra was the "Queen of Kings."
Angered by all of this, Octavian convinced the Roman Senate to declare war on Egypt. Cleopatra and Mark Anthony had gone too far!

Ceasar's assasins Brutus and Cassius were bested by Mark Anthony and Ocativan. In the settlement followng Mark Anthony took the eastern section of the roman empire and Octavion the westmark divided his lands between Cleopatra and kids, this gave Ocatavian a chance to run a propaganda campaign against them.

In 32 BC, Rome declared war on Egypt. In 33BC Octavian bested Mark Anthony in a battle at sea, Cleopatra's ships departed and Anthony comited suicide when all was lost, some say, he mistakenly thought Cleopatra wsa dead. Cleopatra followed suit days later preferring death to the humiliation of a Roman triumph. Cleopatra's son by Ceasar was named pharoh, but Octavioan had him captured and executed. After thriving thousands of years, Egypt became a province of the eastern roman empire.

Cleopatra was the last great leader in Egypt before it fell to the Roman Empire. Her beauty, in the words of one of her contemporaries, was in her charm, wit and sweetness of voice. She was however, highly intelligent and charismatic. The Cleopatra of legend.


Mary Ricksen said...

Great Information. I never knew the whole story.

Jen Childers said...

Thanks Mary,
we seem to like the idea of her juggling Mark Anthony and Ceasar. At least the movies I have seen portray her this way.

take care,