Cleopatra Essay, Research Paper
Cleopatra was an intelligent, political, savory and ambitious woman who changed the history of Egypt. A young woman who was thrust early into the violent and tolerant politics of a declining kingdom. Her stragedy involved the seduction of Julius Caesar succeeded by an intense love affair with Mark Antony. She remains as one of histories most powerful and fascinating rulers.
Alexander the Great died abruptly in Babylon. His Macedonian Generals all raced to get his land. His solider Ptolemy wanted two things the body of Alexander and Egypt. He wanted Egypt because it was the richest place of all Alexander s conquests. He wanted Alexander s body because he believed it would bring a new god to him and many extraordinary powers to the ancient land where he soon would rule. Ptolemy got the land he desired and became pharaoh with all the ancient rights and privileges that came with the duty. He also gained the capital Alexandria, which then was one of the greatest cities to own. The Geografer Strabo wrote about the city Alexandia and the great benefit it had.
The whole city is crossed by streets wide enough for horses and carriages, and intersecting at right angles are two very wide streets, being more than 30 meters in breadth. The city has magnificent public places and buildings and royal palaces that cover a quarter, even a third of the total city area. Each king, just as he adds ornaments to public buildings, also builds a palace of his own to join those already there. And all are connected to the harbour, even those beyond the harbour walls. Also forming part of the palace quarter is the sema, the enclosure containing the tomb of Alexander and those of the kings in another word the city is full of dedications and sanctuaries. The gymnasium is the most beautiful building, with a colonnade about 175 metres in length. In the middle of the city are the law courts and open groves. There is also the Paneum, an artificial conical hill with spiral steps going round it. From the top, the whole wonderful city spreads out below
(Foss, pg. 36)
The great general was known as Ptolemy Soter, meaning savior. The names kept within the family were Ptolemy (for males), Arsinoe, Berenice and Cleopatra. For hundreds of years they kept the Ptolemies in rule because of marriages between brothers and sisters. Cleopatra s father was Ptolemy XII Neos Dionusos. He started ruling in 80 BC. Cleopatra s mother was Cleopatra V Tryphaena. Nobody knows if Cleopatra V Tryphaena is Cleopatras mother because after the birth of Cleopatra in 68 BC her mother either died or disappeared. Cleopatra was born in Alexandria in the winter of 69 or 68 BC. She was born in one of the Ptolemies luxurious apartments. The reason Cleopatra has her name is because she was her father s glory and that is what Cleopatra means. Cleopatras heritage were Greek Barbarians. Some of her heritage consisted of Persian blood. Cleopatra was of mixed blood which conculted to her dark complexion. Which is why some people refered to her as a gipsy (implying to her dark skin). That meant that she was not Egyptian. Cleopatra was a well-educated, intelligent person. For centuries there was an old program that taught pharaohs daughters curriculum of math, philosophy, astronomy and master military strategys. Cleopatra was taught the same education boys recived. Cleopatra was taught and spoke many languages such as Greek, Aethiopian, Troglodytes, Hebrew, Arabian, Syrian, Medes and Parthian. Some say she was magnificently brilliant and beautiful in her apperence as well as her power of mind. Plutarch describes in his notes of Cleopatra being beautiful in body as well as mind
Her actual beauty was not in itself so remarkable; it was the impact of her spirit that was irresistible. The attraction of her person, joined with the charm of her conversation and the characteristic intelligence of all that she did, was bewitching. It was delight merely to hear the sound of her voice. As if this were an instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another. (Foss, pg. 82)
Cleopatra had many siblings. She had two older sisters named Cleopatra VI and Berenice IV, which became her rivals because they also had the chance to take the throne. She also had two younger brothers and one younger sister named Arisione IV, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. Before Ptolemy XII (Cleopatra s father) died he made a will indicating that he wanted Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII heirs of the throne when he passed away. Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra were brother and sister Loving Gods meaning they had to marry each other to keep the royalty in the family. Cleopatra 18 married the young, 10 year old Ptolemy XIII. The marriage made Cleopatra Queen of Egypt and Ptolemy XIII King. Ptolemy was appointed with council men to guide him through problems if he should face any. Cleopatra and Ptolemy ruled jointly, although Cleopatra posesed most of the power because she was older and more advanced. In 50 BC the seasonal flood of the Nile River was low, causing drought and famine. Many people left in search of new water, Cleopatra left from the countryside and fled to Alexandria. In 48 BC Cleopatra was throwen out of the palace by Ptolemy XIII whose advisors despised her. She built her own army outside of Alexandria. Due to Ptolemy and his advisors Cleopatra was enraged and Civil war was on its way. Julius Caesar wrote why Cleopatra was thrown out of the palace.
through the kings friends and relatives , fastened the blame on Cleopatra as the senior of the co-rulers and the dominating figure in Government. By the end of 49 BC the sentiment of the people of Alexandria had turned against her and she was driven from the capital.
(Foss, pg. 74)
Julius Caesar was a great Roman conqueror, so each Cleopatra and Ptolemy XII wanted him on their side. Cleopatra wanted to meet with Caesar so she could suduce him and have him be on her side, but the question was how. Cleopatra smuggled herself into a rug to get to Caesar. She had to do this without the guards seeing her because if Ptolemy XIII knew Cleopatra was going to see Caesar he would have had her killed. Cleopatra did end up suducing Caesar and they spent the night together. The next morning Ptolemy went to talk to Caesar and found Cleopatra by his side. The Alexandrine War started between Cleopatra and Ptolemy XII with Caesar leading Cleopatra s army. Ptolemy XII realized Caesar was much more skilled then himself so he decided to give up. Later it was heard that he drowned trying to escape the city in fear of Caesar. An unknown enemy of Cleopatra and Caesar describes the fatel incident of Ptolemy escaping the Alexandrine War.
Then the Alexandrines struggled to escape and threw themselves over the bank near the river. The first groups tumbled into a ditch and were trampled under the feet of others behind. The king got away in a boat, but so many fugitives crowded aboard that the boat sank and he was drowned.
(Foss, pg. 87)
When Ptolemy XIII died Cleopatra had to marry her brother named Ptolemy XIV. He was 12 years old and Cleopatra was 22 years old. Cleopatra once again claimed the throne and also had power over Ptolemy XIV. Cleopatra became pregnant while taking a cruise on the Nile River with Caesar. Cleopartra had her son in June 47 BC. She named him Ptolemy XV Caesar. Most people referred to him as Caesarian. Priests thought that Caesarian had been fathered from the God Amon-Re, also known as the infant God Horus-Eros. In 46 BC Cleopatra went to Rome with Ptolemy XIV and Caesarian, so she could stay with Caesar. They stayed for 2 years at the villa outside of Rome across the Tiber River, as Caesar s guests. While she was gone she tested Rome s Society to see how Rome would react to her absence. Caesar did not want to marry Cleopatra for political and cultural reasons. For example he was not in the Ptolimies family which meant he was not able to marry Cleopatra and he was not the same culture. Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. That day he was going to be appointed king from Antony. He was killed because people thought he was gaining too much power. Cleopatra left the Italian capital and headed back to Alexandria. At first, she didn t know if she should stay in the Italian capital or to go back to Alexandria. She decided to go to Alexandria because that was her city and the Italian capital was Caesars city. Cleopatra was preparing to go back to Alexandria before Caesar died. When she went back she had to face the Nile drought, famine and disease. She made had to make hard decisions about labor and produce. Administrators started to put extra dues on workers who did agricultural work outside of the city. Cleopatra declared that the workers did not have extra dues. Few months after Cleopatra s return her brother husband Ptolemy XIV disappeared. Later it was found that he was poisoned. Some people suspect Cleopatra murdered Ptolemy XIV because she didn t want him to have control over her. Cleopatra then married her son Caesarion. The Egyptians liked the idea of the marriage as well as Cleopatra did. Cleopatra especially liked the idea of marrying her son because he was half Roman, this placed Celopatra on good terms with the Romans. During that time Cleopatra watched all events from a safe view and kept out of everybody s problems. A man of the name of Cassius asked Cleopatra if she could help him out Cleopatra said she couldn t because of poverty, famine and disease in her kingdom. In the autumn of 42 BC Cleopatra was getting a fleet together. Antony a powerful and skilled man, was planning to become more successful. He wanted to hold a meeting telling evrybody of his plan. Antony sent Cleopatra letters so she would attend his meeting he had to tell everybody of his plan. Cleopatra said no to Antony, she felt that Antonys meeting was unnessisary and she didn t nedd to attend. Antony then sent his friend to tell Cleopatra to go and maybe even threatened her. Finally Ceopatra gave in and went to go meet Antony. Shakespeare wrote and described the meeting of Clepatra and Antony.
She sailed up the River Cydnus in a barge with a poop of gold with purple sails, her rowers stroking the water with oars of silver that kept time to the music of flutes and pipes and lutes. As for Cleopatra herself, she reclined under a canopy of cloth-of gold, dressed as that Aphrodite we see in paintings, while on either side stood pretty little cupids who cooled her with their fans. In her crew were the most beautiful of her woman clothed as Nereids and Graces, some at the helm, others trending the tackle and the ropes of the barge, out of which came a wondrous sweet smell of perfumes that wafted over the river-banks. A multitude of people raced the riverside to view her progress and the city emptied to see her. As the crowds fled away, Antony sat enthroned in the market place to await the queen. At last, he was left sitting alone, while the word spread on all sides that Aphrodite had once to play with Dionysus for the happiness of Asia.
(Foss, pg. 117) Cleopatra and Antony had a feast while Cleopatra let Antony see the enhancing part of her. She showed Antony the side of her that everybody pleasured, her intelligence and sprit. Plato describes Cleopatra and Antonys activieties together.
Whether Antony was serious of lighthearted, she knew a way to please him, and kept him in her sight night and day. She played dice with him, and drank with him, and hunted with him, and stood watching while he performed his exercise at arms. At night, he would dress like a slave and roam the city, peering into poor men s windows, scolding and making fun, and she would go with him as a maid-servant, taking part in his man antics, even as he mocked and brawled and sometimes took home blows. But the fact was that the Alexandrians liked this buffoonery and jollity, and they played their part in all these games. They liked Antony with his jibes and jokes, and used to say that he showed the Romans his tragic mask but kept the comic for them.
(Foss, pg. 121)
In the winter of 41 BC Cleopatra and Antony officially were known as lovers. In October 40 BC Antony and Octavian made a deal, with that Rome was split in two parts, Antony got the East and Octavin the West. Octavin was a conquerer who powerful reinforcements. He wanted to have all the power throgh out Rome, although he only got the west of Rome. Cleopatra then expected to have Antony s twins. She named them Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios, meaning moon and sun. In 36 BC Cleopatra gave birth to another child by Antony, named Ptolemy Philadelphus. He was named after a king who helped Egypt once before. Octavian decided he wanted to go to war with Cleopattra for Egypt and the place of pharoah. In 32 BC Octavian went to war with Cleopatra. The final battle was in 31 BC in Actium, Greece. Cleopatra and Antony fled to Egypt in fear of Octavian, they knew they could not succed and Octivian would be the victorious winner if they stayed in Greece. Octavian waited for a year hoping for them to return. Antony and Cleopatra sent bribes to Octavin saying Cleopatra would make a deal with him if he surrendered. Octavian sent a letter back to Cleopatra only saying he would make a deal if Cleopatra had Antony killed, and Cleopatra said no. In July Antonys army attacked Octavin and surrendered. Antony heard that Cleopatra had died from the rumor of the town. He killed himself and stabbed a knife in his stomach, thinking he had lost his ture love. Cleopatra had Antony carried to the mausoleum so she could spend the last of his life with him, and he died in her arms. The mausoleum was a place that Cleopatra had built for herself. Octavin was scared because he didn t want Cleopatra to kill herself, he wanted her to go through torture. The day of Cleopatra s death she went to Antonys tomb one last time, her servants, in which she desired made her a fasinating full course dinner and bathed her in expensive exported oils. Cleopatra killed herself with her servants by her side. Cleopatra was 39 years old and choose to die because she couldn t live without her one true love Mark Antony. Cleopatra sent a letter to Octavian saying she wanted to be buried next to Antony. Octavian went to go check on her but it was too late She was found dead with her 2 servants. Some say Cleopatra died because a peasant sent a basket of twigs to her and in the basket were aps that bit and posioned her, which she wanted.
Although Cleopatra faced many struggles and hardships in her determined attempts to change the fate of the Greek Roman world, she was adored by her loyal subjects.
Julius Caesar was strategic and cunning. She relied above all upon her physical presence and the spell and enchantment that she created.
She is marked in history as one of the most illustrious and wise among women as she served her dynasty to the bitter end.