(Did you know? The face that launched a thousands ships had classical GREEK proportions. Cleopatra, while adopting the languages and rites of Egypt, was descended from the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty)
Cleopatra as imagined in the HBO mini series Rome, played by Lyndsey Marshall. Could this be one of history's first great seductresses?
Cleopatra has captured the public's imagination for hundreds of years as the last Egyptian pharaoh to rule Egypt (after her death, it became a Roman province).
Many of us know a bit of her story. Cleopatra's great seductions are part of her great claim to fame. At times rumored to be a great beauty, and at other times rumored that it was her charm, wit and dulcet voice that snared men, one thing is for certain: men were spellbound by her.
To gain backing for her claim to the throne over her brother, the twenty-one year old Cleopatra is rumored to have famously seduced the fifty-two year old Julius Caesar in 47 BC, after being smuggled in a rolled up carpet to meet him. Nine months after that infamous meeting, Ptolemy Caesar "Caesarion" (little Caesar) was born to Cleopatra. Sure enough, Caesar backed her claim to the throne.
Emerging from the rolled up carpet
However, Cesar did not recognize Ceasarion as his rightful heir, choosing his grandnephew Octavian instead.
When Cesar was later assassinated, Rome became embroiled in a civil war between the Ceasarian party led by Mark Anthony and Octavian, against the party of Cesar's assassins. Due to her past alliance, Cleopatra backed the Ceasarian party.
During the power upheaval left by Caesar's death, Anthony met with Cleopatra to ascertain her loyalty, and was so charmed by her he spent the winter with her...leading to the birth of their twins, Alexander and Cleopatra. After a separation of 4 years, they were reunited once again and were rumored to have stayed together in Alexandria and married according to an Egyptian rite--despite the fact Anthony already had a wife back home (naughty naughty!).
Very famous depiction of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra by real life lovers Richard Burgess and Elizabeth Taylor
Relations between Octavian and Anthony which had been strained for years broke apart with Octavian waging war in 33 BC.
As armies closed in, Cleopatra famously incited an asp to bite her, choosing to take her own life.
Cleopatra's conquests changed the course of history, as a pretty SINfully seductive ruler!