Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Alternative Histories of Queen Cleopatra VII

From Helen Davis:
After writing my first novel on the legendary Eva Peron, my next inspiration was Cleopatra, the famed queen of Egypt. My first question I got when I left Argentina for ancient Egypt was, why Cleopatra? What can be done that hasn’t already been done?
The answer to that came in the form of abandoning straight historical novels for alternative history. Cleopatra is remembered as the last queen of Egypt, but much of what we think we ‘know’ about her has been written down by her enemies who destroyed her reputation so the image of Rome and Augustus Caesar could shine brighter. She was thus portrayed as a witch and a temptress who ruined two great men, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, and whose suicide was the only redeeming act in an otherwise worthless life spent trying to keep Egypt out of Rome’s might. Known as the last of the Egyptian pharaohs, Cleopatra VII was the last of her dynasty as well, the Ptolemies 
The Ptolemies were not a native Egyptian dynasty, but rather, were imposed upon Egypt when Alexander the Great conquered the nation in 324 B.C. After Alexander died, his empire was split up by four of his generals. Ptolemy, later known as Ptolemy I, ruled Egypt and this dynasty lasted until Cleopatra’s death in 30 B.C. 
As Napoleon stated, ‘history is an agreed upon set of lies.’ This is very evident in Cleopatra’s story. First of all, there was more than one Cleopatra. The famous one is Cleopatra VII, but there were just as many Cleopatras in the ancient Near East, numbered and unnumbered, as Rocky sequels. The first queen of the Ptolemaic dynasty to bear the name was Cleopatra I, a Syrian princess whose marriage to Ptolemy VI and brief reign as Regent left the legacy of the name imprinted upon the dynasty.

By Cleopatra VII’s day, Egypt was in its twilight. Her father, Ptolemy XII, painted as a weak and incompetent ruler and unpopular with the people of Egypt, actually bequeathed a political legacy of cooperation with Rome onto his daughter. Ptolemy XII had six children- Cleopatra VI, who ruled Egypt briefly from 58 to 57 B.C. when he was overthrown and sent into exile in Rome, Berenice IV, who likely killed Cleopatra VI and took power for herself until Aueletes returned in 55 B.C, Cleopatra VII, who is alleged to have been his favorite child, Arsinoë IV, who would later rival Cleopatra VII as queen, and two sons, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. All of his children would rule Egypt. (Read more.)

Facial reconstruction of Cleopatra, HERE. Share

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