History for the Rest of Us

Cleopatra VII, Pharaoh – Summary

Cleopatra VII, Pharaoh – Summary

May 5, 2014

Cleopatra (at age 18) began to assert herself as sole ruler of Egypt at the expense of her co-ruling brother Ptolemy XIII (10), but within three years her enemies placed Ptolemy on the throne as the sole ruler. Thinking he would please Caesar, Ptolemy instead angered him by murdering the great Roman military and political leader Pompey. Cleopatra saw an opportunity and had herself smuggled into Ptolemy’s palace in a carpet to meet with Caesar. She became his mistress and with the defeat of Ptolemy’s army at the Battle of the Nile, Caesar backed her claim to the throne naming Ptolemy XIV as co-ruler. After allegedly poisoning her new co-ruler, Cleopatra made her son (by Caesar) Caesarion her co-regent and successor. After Caesar’s death, she would align herself with Mark Antony with whom she had three children. After Antony’s defeat at Actium and his subsequent suicide, Cleopatra would follow – committing suicide with an asp bite on the...

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra

Aug 23, 2012

Of all love stories that are known to human history, the love story of Antony and Cleopatra has been for nineteen centuries the most remarkable. It has tasked the resources of the plastic and the graphic arts. It has been made the theme of poets and of prose narrators. It has appeared and reappeared in a thousand forms, and it appeals as much to the imagination to-day as it did when Antony deserted his almost victorious troops and hastened in a swift galley from Actium in pursuit of Cleopatra. The wonder of the story is explained by its extraordinary nature. Many men in private life have lost fortune and fame for the love of woman. Kings have incurred the odium of their people, and have cared nothing for it in comparison with the joys of sense that come from the lingering caresses and clinging kisses. Cold-blooded statesmen, such as Parnell, have lost the leadership of their party and have gone down in history with a clouded name because of the fascination exercised upon them by some woman, often far from beautiful, and yet possessing the mysterious power which makes the triumphs of statesmanship seem slight in comparison with the swiftly flying hours of pleasure. But in the case of Antony and Cleopatra alone do we find a man flinging away not merely the triumphs of civic honors or the headship of a state, but much more than these—the mastery of what was practically the world—in answer to the promptings of a woman’s will. Hence the story of the Roman triumvir and the Egyptian queen is not like any other story that has yet been told. The sacrifice involved in it was so overwhelming, so instantaneous, and so complete as to set this narrative above all others. Shakespeare’s genius has touched it with the glory of a great imagination. Dryden, using it in the finest of his plays, expressed its nature in the title “All for Love.” The distinguished Italian historian, Signor Ferrero, the author of many books, has tried hard to eliminate nearly all the romantic elements from the tale, and to have us see in it not the triumph of love, but the...