Cleopatra: The Crafty, Seductive Queen

Cleopatra: The Crafty, Seductive Queen

Renee Pi, Journalist

 

A cunning seductress and one of few female pharaohs of Egypt. These are some traits that first come to mind when thinking about Cleopatra VII. With her ruthless political tactics, sensational love life, and big ambition, Cleopatra made history.

Cleopatra was born in Alexandria, Egypt in the year 69 BCE in the Macedonian dynasty. She was born Greek and had three ambitious siblings. After her father Ptolemy XII died, the throne was inherited by 18-year old Cleopatra and her little brother, Ptolemy XII. Soon after they gained the throne, complications arose between the two. At some point, Cleopatra fled to Syria, assembling an army to take her brother down. Around the same time, Pompey sought refuge in Egypt after a country-splitting argument between him and Julius Caesar. Cleopatra’s brother didn’t hesitate to kill Pompey. Caesar followed his rival into Egypt, where Cleopatra saw an opportunity in him, as his army would assure the return of her rule over Egypt. She followed him into Rome, and sure enough, Caesar fell madly in love and helped return her power. Cleopatra’s cunning mind ensured her power, money, and men more than once. After the assassination of Caesar, Cleopatra returned to Egypt. 

It was 41 BCE when Marc Antony, part of the Second Triumvirate, sent a message to Cleopatra, asking questions of her allegiance to the empire’s former leader. Agreeing to the request, Cleopatra made an extravagant entrance in Tarsus, Cicilia. Antony, bewitched by her elegance and personality, fell into a love affair with Cleopatra. Antony, like the ruler before him, was in a battle for control of Rome. His rival was Gaius Octavian, Caesar’s great-nephew. Both Antony and Cleopatra first pursued a romantic relationship for a goal. Antony saw Cleopatra as financial and military support to secure the throne, while Cleopatra wanted him to return to eastern Egypt, which had been conquered by Rome. In 48 BCE,  Antony returned to Alexandria with Cleopatra. He declared Caesarion as the rightful heir to the throne, attempting to antagonize Octavian. Of course, Octavian fought back, and in 31 BCE, Cleopatra and Antony combined forces to fight against him. However, they were badly defeated, and the two had to flee back to Egypt.

When Cleopatra’s fleet surrendered to Octavian’s, she assumed the worst, fearing that Antony was dead. Cleopatra set off to her tomb, leaving behind the instructions that if anybody asked, they were to be told that she was already dead. However, Antony was alive. When he was told that Cleopatra was dead, he fell on his sword, killing himself. Determined not to be paraded around Rome before getting executed, Cleopatra committed suicide. Ancient sources say that she died of a bite of an asp, which was smuggled into her chambers.

Cleopatra is often perceived as a cunning seductress. However, this is only because history was rewritten by Octovian to convince others that he was the rightful ruler. Even as a crafty queen, Cleopatra was very kind. When floods from the Nile River killed many crops, she opened her stores of grain to everyone in Egypt. During her 23-year reign, Cleopatra brought peace and prosperity to all of Egypt.

We should learn from Cleopatra’s legacy. Don’t be scared to demonstrate your strengths, to stand out from the crowd, and to aspire to be better. Just concentrate on being the best you can be.

 

Sources:

 https://www.biography.com/royalty/cleopatra-vii 

https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/cleopatra-death/

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