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HISTORY

Cleopatra’s real history is far from the one Hollywood has taught us

Por: Alexa Martínez6 de abril de 2022

Cleopatra is one of the most famous and important women in history, but do you really know her? Here are some facts that maybe you didn’t know.

It’s said that Cleopatra was not only one of the most beautiful women in Egyptian society but a very intelligent politician who served as the last ruler of the Kingdom of Egypt.

Her name means ‘father’s glory’, and was born in Egypt’s capital, Alexandria. Cleopatra ascended to the throne when she was 18 years old, however, Hollywood has made us believe many things about her life, which should be questioned, because despite her power, the young pharaoh was also despised by many for the simple fact of being a woman.

A true beauty?

It is almost impossible to know with certainty if she was really as beautiful as it is said, because the sculptures that exist of her have some differences between one; even so, Plutarch, Mark Antony’s biographer, affirmed that what really made Cleopatra attractive was her intelligence.

She also had control on her image, so she adapted this according to her political needs, for example, sometimes in certain ceremonies she would appear dressed as the goddess Isis.

Her name was Greek

Her family was descendants of the Macedonian general Ptolemt, however, 250 years went by before Cleopatra was born. However, her true background is unknown since the ethnicity of her grandmother is unknown. That is why it is impossible to be sure about her racial identity, however it’s very likely that before Cleopatra’s birth her Greek heritage got mixed with other ethnicities.

A product of incest?

Just like many royal houses, the members of her dynasty used to marry members of their own family to preserve the purity of their bloodline. Cleopatra’s ancestors tied the knot with cousins or siblings.

It’s likely that her own parents were brother and sister, not only that but Cleopatra also got married with her two brothers, serving as her ceremonial spouse and co-regent.

Caesarion, the eldest son of Cleopatra

This Egyptian Queen did have a son with Julius Caesar, who helped her establish herself on the throne. Of course her pregnancy was a scandal and when the news arrived to Rome, everyone almost lost their heads, Egyptians were despised.

Caesar was the most powerful man in Rome and he had no other son, therefore, if this little egyptian boy had wanted to, he could have ruled Rome without any problem.

She had four children

In addition to Caesarion, she also had an affair with Mark Antony, with whom she had twins, Cleopatra Selene, Alexander Helios and the youngest one, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

In the Hathor Temple in Dendera Cleopatra had an image made where she can be seen ruling together with Caesarion. When she died, the emperor Augustus called Cleopatra’s eldest son with promises of power, but ended up murdering him.

The twins and the youngest were sent to the house of the widow of Mark Antony, where they were treated well and educated as well.

August is the month where the defeat and death of Cleopatra is celebrated

Contrary to what many believe, she didn’t die because of love. She ended her life because there was no longer a place to honor her in this world. Augustus came to power defeating her and sought to take her to Rome and exhibit her as his proof os victory.

She would be humiliated in the streets of Rome, refusing to end up like that, legend says she motivated a snake to kill her and end her life.


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