Looking for something? Search here:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend, by Dr. Joann Fletcher

I've just started this biography on the life of Cleopatra, and it seems to me that in some ways the spirit of Cleopatra echoes down through history in different women.

A male-dominated society is especially disgusted (and perhaps a little terrified) at extremely powerful women, and Cleopatra's case is no different.  The Romans hated that she was in power and used their influence to tarnish her name and reputation, and their propaganda has largely been accepted by the western world even to this day.  It has only been in the last 30 years (she lived more than 2000 years ago!) that Egyptologists and other historians have been uncovering a different story.

This story is not new.  Think of the lives of Nefertiti and Eva Perón and you will find so many similarities in the societal response to their power.  

It is one thing for a woman to be beautiful - whether you like it or not, it carries an influence and a measure of power over many males (and females), and this can be accepted to a certain degree.  When a woman is both socially powerful, intelligent, and beautiful, she is dangerous.  What will stop her?  You're right.  Nothing.

Cleopatra was groomed to be pharaoh, and when her brother drove her out of Egypt to Syria, she came back with a vengeance and an army to take the throne back.  She was successful.  She then linked herself romantically to Caesar, gaining yet more political power and status, and gave birth to his son, Caesarion.  After 44 B.C., Cleopatra returned to Egypt upon the assassination of Julius Caesar.  

Marc Antony sent for Cleopatra to answer questions regarding her allegiance to Rome's fallen ruler - and when he did, he became captivated by her beauty and personality, fell in love with her, and their union produced three children (two of which were boy and girl twins, named Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene).  They both benefited from the power of the other to expand their own empires and fought together against enemies.

While fighting, Marc Antony received inaccurate information that his Cleopatra was dead, and as a result, he fell upon his sword, committing suicide.  They carried him to her in her palace and he died in her arms.  At the thought of him being gone and Egypt being lost, she dramatically committed suicide by having a poisonous Egyptian cobra bite her on the chest.

They were buried together, and with her death, the book closed on the era of the pharaohs of Egypt.

At that point, Rome sought out to erase her from record.  She was cut and deleted from Egyptian history, and what was left was a smear campaign that would show present day to be tame.

Does it seem a little strange that they did this with Nefertiti?  They defaced her body and her story, too.  Does it seem even more perverse and ironic that they did this with Eva Perón?  What they can't get at in life, they pursue in death, hoping to grab at anything for a re-balance of their own power and might.

The threads of strong women reverberate through the chorus of history, whether or not you like them, whether or not you are comfortable with them, and whether or not you agree with them.  They are there and they make up where we are today.

Peace, love, and keep on reading,
Ms. Daisy

No comments:

Post a Comment