Cleopatra - A Cunning Queen Exploiting Men For Power Or A Rare Political Genius?
Cleopatra was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty. The Ptolemaic dynasty was descended from Alexander the Great of Macedon and was also the last dynasty of ancient Egypt after nearly 300 years of rule.
Cleopatra was famous for her beauty and charm. That's why many people seem to forget that Cleopatra was first a ruler, an Egyptian queen, and then a beautiful woman. Cleopatra became queen at the age of 18 in a state of great turmoil. In order to protect her country and people, Cleopatra was forced to use all necessary skills and tricks, one of which was to win the hearts and rely on the support of powerful men.
According to history books, Cleopatra's natural beauty was not breathtaking, but she knew how to take care of herself and especially the ability to seduce men.
Cleopatra was born in 69 or 70 BC, the daughter of pharaoh Ptolemy XII. After the death of Ptolemy XII, Cleopatra was the rightful successor to the throne. Since Egypt would never accept a woman as supreme, Cleopatra and her brother King Ptolemy XIII married and ascended the throne as co-rulers.
Not long after, the two had a disagreement. A bloody civil war broke out in Egypt. In 49 BC, Ptolemy XIII overthrew Cleopatra, forcing the queen to flee to Syria. Cleopatra spent a year here organizing her own army and returning to Egypt. This is also the moment when Julius Caesar entered the life of this most famous queen in history.
Cleopatra tested poison on convicted prisoners. Painting by Alexandre Cabanel, 1887
When civil war broke out in Rome, military leader Pompey the Great fled to Egypt in hopes of finding support to defeat his rival Julius Caesar.
At first, Ptolemy XIII pretended to accept Pompey's request. While Pompey was distracted, Ptolemy XIII killed Pompey and beheaded him in order to please Julius Ceasar. However, instead of rejoicing, Julius Caesar felt disgust and contempt for Ptolemy XIII's actions.
Cleopatra took this opportunity to meet him privately and ingratiate herself with Julius Caesar. The queen surprised Caesar by being naked and curled up in a rug, and then sent her servants to take her to Caesar's room. Some historians consider this to be an exaggeration, as Cleopatra merely wore a veil when she went to see Caesar.
But this detail is probably not important because in the end Cleopatra and Caesar became lovers. Caesar also agreed to help Cleopatra overthrow Ptolemy XIII so that she would become the sole ruler of Egypt.
Painting of Cleopatra curled up in a carpet to meet Ceasar by artist Jean-Leon Gerome.
Ptolemy XIII continued to rebel against Cleopatra. In the end, the pharaoh's army was destroyed, and Ptolemy himself died from drowning. Cleopatra won and at that time she was carrying Caesar's flesh and blood.
Caesar arranged for Cleopatra to marry her 12-year-old brother, pharaoh Ptolemy XIV. On the surface, the two ruled jointly, but power was indeed in the hands of Cleopatra.
Caesar and Cleopatra also held a secret Egyptian wedding. This marriage was not recognized in Rome because Caesar was a married man and Caesar also broke the law by marrying a foreign woman. Before long, Caesar was on his way back to Rome.
Cleopatra's secret to conquering men's hearts is to always be as beautiful as a goddess and make them go from one surprise to another.
Cleopatra's seat of power was not completely secure, she was forced to depend on the Roman Empire. A year after the birth of Caesarion - the son of Caesar and Cleopatra - the queen took him out of Egypt and landed in Rome.
Perhaps because Caesarion was the only son, Caesar never denied that he was Caesarion's biological father. After Caesar was assassinated, Cleopatra failed to make Caesarion Roman Emperor, they both returned to their homeland.
The painting depicts the assassination of Ceasar by artist Vincenzo Camuccini in 1804.
In 44 BC, Caesarion became co-ruler with his mother, queen Cleopatra, after the death of pharaoh Ptolemy XIV. Rumor has it that Cleopatra poisoned Ptolemy XIV so that her son could succeed to the throne.
After gaining support from Mark Antony, Cleopatra's reign was stable and flourishing for more than 14 years.
Painting of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony sailing on the Nile by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.
Despite being a married man, Mark Antony decided to marry Cleopatra and the two had three children together. In 34 BC, Mark Antony organized the Donations of Alexandria to give many Roman territories to his Egyptian family, in other words, this was a gift to the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
This event infuriated Octavian - Mark Anthony's brother-in-law and Roman Emperor - into a rage. Octavian accused Cleopatra of seducing and bribing Mark Antony to ease her way to the Roman throne.
An illustration of Cleopatra seduces Mark Antony. There is a snake crawling between Cleopatra's legs.
In 32 BC, Octavian declared war against Mark Antony and Cleopatra. In 30 BC, Octavian invaded Egypt. Worried about Caesarion's life, Cleopatra planned to send Caesarion to live in a wealthy family.
On the day Octavian captured Alexandria, Mark Antony committed suicide. A few days later, Cleopatra also committed suicide. She would rather die than look at Octavian's resounding victory. Some time later, Caesarion was also murdered, the Egyptian dynasty officially ended. And a new cycle began.
Caesarion was called "King of Kings", and Cleopatra was hailed as "Queen of Kings".
Some people will hate Cleopatra because she is the third person to destroy the happiness of the two men's family and cause Egypt to fall. Others will praise Cleopatra because she is a beautiful, skillful, and ambitious queen.
Cleopatra's way of doing things can be controversial, but we are inherently not living in the era thousands of years ago, nor are we Cleopatra, so how can we understand whether the queen's actions are right or wrong.