Monday, October 4, 2010

Cleopatra VII-Caesar's Bane


Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII are the true stuff of legends, as countless Hollywood and television productions (here the 1950's Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh version)have told their audiences.




Cleopatra VII is always beautiful, seductive and ruthless in these versions (Liz Taylor is this reincarnation). In reality Cleopatra did have a way of turning men into her willing aides. Julius was very smitten with her to the point of ignoring his wife and Roman traditions dealing with relationships with non-Roman women. When she claimed her child, Caesarion, was in fact the son of Caesar many of Rome's Patrician Senators were disgusted. This alienated more Senators from Caesar and added fuel to the fire that Caesar was no longer a true Republican of Rome. It was feared Caesar would marry the Queen of Egypt-that would make him a "King," the type of ruler the Senators most despised. The loss of Senate support was to have fatal consequences for Julius.


The actual Cleopatra VII was uncommonly pretty in her youth according to most sources and the limited physical evidence such as this statue. She did use all her abilities, including her body, to attain her goals; the ruler ship of Egypt and maintaining Egypt's power in the Ancient World.



But after multiple children, the stress of leadership (including a civil war, murdering at least two brothers and consistent hostilities with Rome)and age began to tell. Her visage on this coin shows a much more "mature" queen.


Cleopatra VII was the last independent ruler of Egypt until the mid 20th century. Her attempts to keep Egypt independent of Rome through her very personal relationships with, first Julius Caesar and later Mark Anthony, were in the end futile and lead to her death and the fall of her kingdom.



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