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The most famous woman of the ancient world is Cleopatra. Many girls even dream of repeating the "career" of the Egyptian queen, with a different ending, of course.
Cleopatra is considered not only beautiful, but also a decisive, intelligent woman. She seemed to be a just ruler with love victories, then she turned out to be an intelligent beauty with a strong sovereign, or even a calculating careerist who made full use of all her talents and natural data.
In reality, everything was much more complicated and not at all so romantic. It turns out that almost everything we know about this truly extraordinary woman is myths.
Cleopatra was an Egyptian. Cleopatra represented the Ptolemaic dynasty, which is still considered Greek or Macedonian. This family was founded by the colleague of Alexander the Great, the commander Ptolemy. According to legend, he was even related to the great conqueror himself. After the Macedonians conquered Egypt, it was Ptolemy who was appointed satrap or ruler of this ancient country. He founded his own dynasty, whose representatives kept the purity of blood, marrying their own sisters. There is information that some nameless concubine could have been Cleopatra's mother, but on the whole, the queen's nationality can be easily traced. The last representative of the Ptolemaic dynasty was by no means a purebred Egyptian, but rather a Macedonian or even Greek in a broad sense.
Cleopatra spoke her native Egyptian language. To Cleopatra's credit, it is worth noting that she was almost the only representative of her dynasty who began to learn the language of the people obedient to her. For the first time in 300 years of Ptolemaic rule, their representative spoke to the Egyptians in their language. Plutarch wrote that the queen, in addition to Egyptian, also spoke Hebrew, Arabic, Syrian, Ethiopian, Persian and other languages. But her native language was Greek, as it was for all the Ptolemies. And with Caesar, the beauty most likely spoke in her own language, he knew him very well. But Cleopatra did not speak Latin.
Cleopatra was an autocratic queen. Formally, Cleopatra was indeed the queen of Egypt. However, she possessed full power only periodically, and there was no need to talk about full-fledged management of an independent state. In the ancient world, women in general have always been assigned a secondary role. So in Egypt - Cleopatra simply could not reign on her own. After the death of her father, she shared the throne with her 9-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII, becoming his official wife. But even in this status, the 17-year-old woman was unable to gain power - on behalf of the pharaoh, the courtiers actually expelled Cleopatra from the capital. Only Gaius Julius Caesar was able to return the young queen to the throne, becoming her lover. Although Egypt was rich, it did not have independence. The country was in the status of the most important vassal of the warlike Rome. Caesar appeared here very conveniently in the company of legionnaires. The brother and husband of the disgraced beauty was immediately removed from power, and another young brother, Ptolemy XIV, ascended the throne. Cleopatra officially became his wife. In fact, she lived with Caesar. Her rule of Egypt cannot be called independent, because the queen obeyed her powerful patron in everything. Caesar did not even hesitate to summon an "independent" ruler of a foreign country to Rome. And the period of Cleopatra's reign after the death of her lover was marked by the beginning of the robberies of the local population by the legionnaires. And the queen could not do anything with them until Rome intervened. Her next lover, the ruler of the eastern part of the empire, Mark Antony, formally gave Cleopatra more sovereign. But again she had to please Rome. And the outbreak of civil war between Antony and Octavian ruined both the queen herself and Egypt.
Cleopatra was a beautiful woman. In the creation of the cult of this woman, such a statement is fundamental. But those paintings that have come down to us from the Renaissance portrayed Cleopatra in accordance with the beauty standards of the time. Epochs changed, ideals changed, and Cleopatra herself acquired new features in the fantasies of the masters. And the modern perception of the queen is inspired by the luscious images of Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh and Monica Bellucci. Only now no one can say exactly what Cleopatra looked like. Photography had not yet been invented, so only busts, more or less close to the time of the queen's life, have to be taken into account. But on those who are identified precisely by her image, she appears as a woman with a thick lower lip, a hooked nose and a narrow forehead. But much more objective in this case is the opinion of contemporaries who described the standards of that time. And they started talking about the incredible beauty of Cleopatra a couple of centuries after her death. It is worth saying that at the same time a rumor appeared about the extreme depravity of the queen. Historians have questioned these sources of legends. And the most authoritative is the description of Plutarch. He mentioned Cleopatra when he spoke of Mark Antony in his Comparative Biographies. According to the historian, the main advantages of the queen are the ability to communicate, the gift of persuasion and a beautiful voice. And the beauty of Cleopatra was not outstanding and did not strike at first sight. It is worth considering that Plutarch lived close to the period described and it was believed that he also sympathized with Cleopatra. So the researchers believe that Cleopatra's main weapon was not her beauty at all, but her intelligence and desire to find a common language, which especially flattered the men.
Cleopatra was a sensual and romantic nature. There is a legend about how Cleopatra ended up in Caesar's chambers - she was brought there wrapped in a carpet. And when he was turned around, suddenly a beauty appeared before the great commander. Caesar was smitten with her courage, becoming the lover of the Egyptian queen. But this romantic story has its own background. At the time of his acquaintance with Cleopatra, Caesar himself was already over 50 years old. He was an intelligent and decisive politician with a knack for intrigue. But nothing is known about his romance. On the contrary, Caesar became famous for his numerous love affairs, even his legionnaires sang to the inhabitants to hide their wives, because a "bald lecher" enters the city. In the struggle for the throne, Cleopatra's charms played a role, but Caesar had his own cold calculation. After all, the queen turned out to be completely devoted to him. Rather than dealing with a teenager surrounded by advisers, the Roman chose to deal with a beautiful woman who also visited his chambers. Over time, Caesar will create a gilded statue in memory of his mistress, but in his will he will not mention anything either about her or about their joint child, Caesarion. But the next Roman lover of the queen, Mark Antony, fell into her net much more thoroughly. True, it took much more serious preparation for this. Cleopatra feasted for several days with her influential friend, arranging magnificent receptions. True, such a demonstration of luxury and wealth cost the treasury dearly, besides, the queen made many gifts. Antony turned out to be simpler than his predecessor. Cleopatra realized that her new chosen one was more a soldier than a politician. That is why the appropriate line of conduct was chosen. Cleopatra began to joke unpretentiously on military topics, to support Antony in his hooligan antics. So he gradually fell in love with his charming girlfriend. But quite recently, Cleopatra was choosing who would be her new chosen one, wanting to choose exactly the future winner in Roman squabbles. As a result, the Italian historian Guglielmo Ferrero made the correct opinion about the "romantic nature". He described Cleopatra as a completely cold and dispassionate nature, by nature incapable of sincere feelings.
Cleopatra was the perfect wife. After the queen met with Caesar, she immediately unleashed an internecine war with her lawful husband and brother Ptolemy. Tom had to fight the strong Romans, which led to the death of the rightful pharaoh. And Cleopatra began to enjoy life with her patron, Caesar. Arriving in Rome, she immediately found many enemies from among the lover's ill-wishers and even from his friends. When the heat reached a critical level, the conspirators killed Caesar. Cleopatra returned to Egypt, where her second lawful husband, Ptolemy XIV, soon died. They say that he was poisoned, but who could benefit from this death, if not Cleopatra? Supporting Mark Antony in everything, the queen of Egypt began to fight on his side with Octavian. But with her intrigues, she alienated many of his friends from her lover. The preparation for the battles was reduced to feasts and parties. In the decisive naval battle near the Cape of Shares, Cleopatra and half of the fleet at first was inactive, and then at the decisive moment she completely preferred to withdraw her forces. Behind her rushed the defeated Mark Antony, whose surrender was only a matter of time.
Cleopatra committed suicide, unable to survive the death of her beloved. After that very defeat, Cleopatra, along with her beloved, went to the capital of Egypt. There was no longer any hope of victory. The queen was waiting for Octavian to come. In the meantime, she spent all her free time at feasts, vowing to die with Mark Antony. But with the arrival of the Romans, she chose not to rush to fulfill her vow, while her lover committed suicide. Cleopatra surrendered. Historians believe that this was another cunning trick of hers - so she tried to seduce Octavian. But he was closely associated with her previous Roman lovers - the heir to the first and the enemy of the second. Only this battle initially turned against her. And her time had already passed. Cleopatra was 39 years old, and she managed to give birth to four children by that time. Octavian was not as simple as Antony, but a cunning and calculating politician. Cleopatra quickly realized why she was being held captive - the Romans were preparing to demonstrate the defeated queen during their triumph. Cleopatra would have to play the role of a trophy and valuable exhibit, along with jewelry, outlandish animals and plants. Then the queen chose to kill herself with the help of poison, and at the same time her two maids. Thus ended the history of Cleopatra and the entire Ptolemaic dynasty, and with them the independence of Egypt.
Cleopatra did not receive any special education. In Greece, it was really not customary to teach girls in any particular way. But in Egypt, things were different. Cleopatra lived in the royal palace next to the Library of Alexandria, which allowed her to receive an excellent education. One of her biographers generally noted that with her knowledge the queen was not much inferior to Caesar. She was well versed in matters of arithmetic, literature, astronomy, geography and other sciences. It is known that Cleopatra was fluent in many languages, which was also impossible without serious training. And she turned out to be the only representative of the dynasty who spoke the language of her subjects. Even Cleopatra's enemies noted her oratorical talents and sharp mind.
Cleopatra was very emancipated. But this is true. In ancient Egypt, women had the same rights as men. They inherited property in equal shares with their brothers, were able to independently manage their property and even had the right to divorce. Fate prepared for Cleopatra the role of a powerless queen, but she was able to change the situation. After the death of her husbands, Cleopatra began to govern the country on her own, including in external affairs. But other Egyptian queens ruled along with their husbands. These are Nefertiti, the wife of Achenaton, and Nefertiti, the wife of Ramses II. The love affair with Caesar was an amazing event for that time. Not only did they have different nationalities, but this novel was also a conscious choice of the queen. None of her male relatives had prepared such a connection.
Cleopatra was a popular queen. Based on the number of her images that are created in literature, painting, cinema, music, there can be no doubt about this. But Cleopatra was also appreciated by her contemporaries. She was very good at doing domestic affairs. The people supported their queen, her reign was marked by the absence of riots. In the Greek papyrus of 35 BC. Cleopatra is referred to as Philopatris, that is, "loving her homeland." According to Plutarch, she was the closest to the people of the entire Ptolemaic dynasty. Only now, the queen got involved in politics and gave the Romans too many liberties, which angered the Greek bourgeoisie. This gave rise to negative memories of the queen.
Cleopatra was cruel and ruthless. This statement is only partly true. On the one hand, in the struggle for power, Cleopatra was forced to kill her second husband, as well as, most likely, the rest of her brothers and sisters. For the ruling Hellenes, this scenario is quite traditional. So you should not consider Cleopatra more cruel than others were in those days. And her father at one time also got rid of his numerous competitors. But the myth of the queen's cruelty outlived her much. In the 19th century, legends even appeared that Cleopatra offered a night of love to everyone who was ready to part with life for this. Most likely, this myth appeared thanks to Plutarch. He wrote that Cleopatra loved to try the poisons she created on those sentenced to death.
Cleopatra committed suicide by being bitten by a snake. The last moments of the life of the legendary queen and the circumstances of her death remain mysterious. The most widespread version says that Cleopatra chose to commit suicide with the help of a poisonous snake when she learned about the death of Mark Antony. The basis of this legend is the fact that the cobra is a symbol of royalty. However, if Cleopatra wanted to commit suicide, she would clearly have chosen a different method, less painful and faster. After all, she was an expert on poisons. Cleopatra would like to preserve her beauty even after death. In addition, it is rumored that her many enemies in Rome simply staged her poisoning, setting it up with suicide.