Cleopatra blends beauty and intellect
The world has seen many beautiful women from time to time. However,
Cleopatra of Egypt surpasses all of them because none of the others had
the rare attributes she possessed. Cleopatra had royal blood. She ruled
Egypt jointly with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brothers
Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV whom she married according to Egyptian
Apart from her royal lineage, Cleopatra was a queen of unsurpassing
beauty. It is said that kings swooned on entering her presence. Two
great Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, were attracted to
her beauty. Caesar was so overwhelmed by her charms that he reversed his
decision to support Ptolemy and backed Cleopatra to win a nearly
unwinnable war. Their romantic relationship lasted until Caesar was
assassinated. Unlike many other beautiful women in history, Cleopatra
was also a courageous and highly intelligent queen who had a firm grip
on her kingdom. According to historians Cleopatra would have dreamt of
conquering the whole world. Even Julius Caesar found her to be a young,
charming and intelligent woman who had almost everything in life.
Caesar admired her more because she was the product of a great
civilisation. When Alexander the Great died, his empire dismembered.
Ptolemy began to rule Egypt. Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemies was a
great queen of learning. She spoke 10 languages. How Cleopatra met
Julius Caesar has the semblance of a fairytale. Caesar and his council
of generals were contemplating how to support Ptolemy who was at war
with Cleopatra to capture the throne of Egypt. Out of nowhere a Greek
merchant appeared on the scene. As he had brought a bundle of rugs as a
present to Caesar, he was ushered in. Pindrop silence prevailed for a
Cleopatra, a painting by Jean-Leon Gerome
The bundle of rugs was unrolled carefully by the merchant. Lo and
behold! A stunningly beautiful woman came out of it. The intruder needed
no introduction. Right before him stood the Queen of Egypt, “Daughter of
the Sun” and the “Sister of the Moon.’ Her charms displayed to Caesar
are still fresh in the minds of men because Cleopatra has been
immortalised by three leading people.
William Shakespeare immortalised her by writing his great play Antony
and Cleopatra. It has been read, studied and reviewed by many
generations of scholars for more than five centuries. This was followed
by Jules Massenet’s opera aptly titled Cleopatra. In 1963 the film
Cleopatra appeared. Apart from these, many articles and books have been
written on Cleopatra whose fascination never seems to dwindle. In these
creations Cleopatra is depicted as a queen of great beauty with a
tremendous sex appeal. Under the spell of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar
fought relentlessly with Ptolemy’s army and secured Egypt for her.
Eventually Ptolemy drowned and Cleopatra became the queen of Egypt.
While the war was in full swing, Caesar and Cleopatra found time for
a closer liaison. For some time Caesar forgot his own kingdom of Rome
and stayed with his new-found love. Before long Cleopatra gave birth to
a son. They named him Caesarian Ptolemy. However, all good things have
to come to an end. Being a warrior, Caesar was bent on expanding his
empire. So he had to leave Cleopatra. The departure of Caesar became
unbearable for Cleopatra. She waited for one whole year thinking that he
would return to Egypt. Then something unexpected happened. Cleopatra was
summoned to Rome. She and her son set sail for Rome and later took up
residence in a villa on the bank of the Tigris.
Cleopatra was summoned to Rome again, this time by Mark Antony. She
sailed to Rome in a gaily decorated ship and invited Antony to dine with
her. When he approached, Cleopatra was on a ship with a golden prow,
sails of purple and oars of silver. She was lying there dressed in the
finest of clothes. Rich perfumes and music filled the air. When Antony
approached her she greeted him, “The colossal child capable of
conquering the world, incapable of resisting a pleasure.” Antony found
himself on cloud nine.
Antony enjoyed Cleopatra’s warm hospitality and the banquet. She
showered him with expensive gifts. Soon he came under her spell.
Cleopatra’s unsurpassing beauty, intelligence and wit were too much to
bear. Antony was so enamoured of her that he helped Cleopatra to kill
her sister who posed a threat to her power.
Cleopatra’s liaison with Mark Antony did not last long. After losing
the battle of Actium, Antony committed suicide. On hearing the news, she
also killed herself by means of an asp bite. After her death Egypt
became a Roman province. What is remarkable is that there is hardly any
other woman who could match Cleopatra’s beauty, intellect and wit. She
will remain in the human psyche for many more centuries.