Cleopatra VII: Egypt's Last Pharaoh
The Legendary Women of World History 9
by Laurel A. Rockefeller
Genre: Historical Fiction
Cleopatra Thea Philopator refused to do what she was told. In an age where patriarchy denied full citizenship to even the most elite of Roman women, Cleopatra ruled her Egypt determined to keep it independent and free from Roman control -- at any price necessary. Demonized as a simple seductress by Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (the future Caesar Augustus) and his political allies, Cleopatra VII proved herself the equal to three of the most powerful men of the Roman world: Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Antonius, and Octavian Caesar.
Includes a detailed timeline, suggested reading list/bibliography, and a special Easter egg for Doctor Who fans.
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“Pompey’s body was found back in Pelusium,” reported the aide.
“Excellent. Is his funeral done then? All of him?”
“As you have commanded so it is accomplished,” affirmed the aide.
“And our efforts to locate Cleopatra?” asked the general.
“The last time she was seen was two days ago while at prayer at the Poseidium—but she has not been seen since.”
“She’s laying a low profile,” concluded Julius Caesar. “Very wise. Clearly reports of her intelligence are not overrated.”
“Well she is widely considered one of the most intelligent and highly educated of all the women in the world,” noted the aide. “What she lacks in perfection in her flesh she more than makes up for in her wit, charm, and wisdom. I would not wish to be against her—in love or war.”
“Beauty is not always about the roundness or size of a woman’s breast nor in the complexion of the skin. Beauty has many forms.”
“As no doubt your sexual conquests have proven,” hinted the aide playfully.
“Meaning?” asked Julius Caesar sternly.
“I mean no disrespect, Sir!”
Julius Caesar waved for him to leave, “No bother! My reputation is well-earned. No one I fancy refuses my bed. No one!”
“Is that so?” asked Cleopatra as she emerged from a shadow on the edge of the room. “You are Gaius Julius Caesar, I presume?”
Julius Caesar approached her, his gait like a jaguar assessing powerful prey as he extinguished the candle on the desk in front of him, “Cleopatra the Seventh Thea Philopator, I presume?”
“You may simply call me Isis if that is simpler, General.”
“How about Cleopatra? Oh, I know it is Egyptian custom to be distinguished by many bynames. Given how intermarried you Ptolemies are, it is perhaps the only way to know who is whom. Your brother is the thirteenth Ptolemy—in what? Two hundred fifty years?”
“You are well informed,” noted Cleopatra as she circled the general gracefully, her own movements as elegant as those of the goddess Bast.
“How did you get in here?”
“Magic? Or were you in that carpet that mysteriously appeared in this room four hours ago?”
“A goddess never reveals the secrets behind the miracles she creates.”
“In that she is like every other woman,” retorted Julius Caesar as he extinguished another torch from the wall.
“I heard your aide imply you know something about the subject of women.”
Julius Caesar extinguished another torch, “Women and men! If I fancy someone for my bed, I am never refused!”
Julius Caesar met her eyes, “Not once, not ever!”
“I may prove your boast wrong.”
“No! You won’t!” flirted the general as he extinguished the last torch in the room and put his arm around her waist.
With her lyrical writing style, Laurel's books are as beautiful to read as they are informative.
In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series.
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By Laurel A. Rockefeller
Cleopatra VII is easily the most famous woman of the ancient western world. Sly and sexy, beautiful beyond compare, we celebrate her as much for her passionate love affairs as we do her devotion to husband Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony). But are these images of her true? In my latest biography, “Cleopatra VII: Egypt’s Last Pharaoh” I sort fact from fiction to reveal the real woman you thought knew. Here are five “facts” about her you will discover are actually myths.
She was a sexy vixen.
Probably our most potent image of Cleopatra is of a seductress who lured first Gaius Julius Caesar, then his friend Marc Antony into her bed. The image is historical, but not true. In this case we are the victim of a politically-motivated public relations campaign started by Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (the future Caesar Augustus) designed to justify entering into yet another civil war, this time with Antony.
Octavian wanted to rule the Roman Empire as emperor. Cleopatra VII and an independent Egypt stood in the way of those plans. Just as politicians have continued to do in the over 2000 years since, he accomplished his goals by attacking Cleopatra’s character and painting her as a one-dimensional, sex-craven vixen, a threat to everything good, moral, and decent. That she was a woman daring to wield political power instead of staying house-bound and pregnant made it all too easy.
She was the most beautiful woman of her age.
Going hand-in-hand with the sexy seductress image, Octavian and his allies projected an image that Cleopatra was the most beautiful woman in the world. With such beauty, it would be easy to seduce any man she wanted. However, this image too is not accurate—at least not if one is measuring beauty according to the physical standards of the day.
Coinage from her reign and statuary indicate that she was modestly attractive, but hardly a model beauty. Just like Anne Boleyn 1600 years later, Cleopatra’s beauty was grounded in her intelligence, her wit, and her charm. She was beautiful first and foremost because she was a beautiful person. Her physical attractiveness (which was above average) came secondary.
She was in love with Marc Antony.
Hollywood has made a lot of money off this image that Cleopatra and Marc Antony were madly in love with each other. However, if one is to judge a person based on actions and not the words of a political enemy, it becomes very clear that Cleopatra was far less interested in Marc Antony than he was with her. Did she care for him? Certainly. But she loved Egypt more—much more. In this, Cleopatra was very much like Queen Elizabeth of Tudor: married to her kingdom.
She died for love.
Dying for love makes a great Hollywood ending for her life. However, for Cleopatra it simply was not the case—nor was it for Marc Antony. Enemies of the Roman Republic and later Roman Empire were taken alive if possible and paraded as part of a victorious general’s Triumph celebrations before being executed according to the whims of the victor. Knowing this well, neither Antony nor Cleopatra wished to be used and tortured in this fashion. They committed suicide to avoid the disgrace and agony they both knew Octavian planned for them, diminishing his victory.
She had only one child – Caesarion.
Both Marc Antony and Cleopatra were married several times and had several love-affairs. Marc Antony had a son by his first wife Fulvia who was executed along with Cleopatra’s eldest son Ptolemy Caesar (nicknamed Caesarion), her bastard child with General Gaius Julius Caesar. Antony and Cleopatra together had fraternal twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene followed by their younger son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. After their suicide, Octavian brought the three children to Rome where they were raised with Antony’s two daughters by wife Octavia.
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