Cleopatra Essay

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Cleopatra: Yoko Ono of Rome or Brilliant Ruler of Egypt? From Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff “Man’s most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe.” ~ Euripides For ten generations Cleopatra’s family ruled as pharaohs of Egypt. The Ptolemies were actually Greek, “which makes Cleopatra approximately as Egyptian as Elizabeth Taylor” (2). She received a traditional Greek education. At thirteen she would study rhetoric and philosophy, the fine art of persuasion and nine languages. In fact she was the first Ptolemy to learn Egyptian, making her a highly persuasive and respected ruler. She was eighteen when she and her ten year old brother came into power. Cleopatra’s father had financially secured an ally in Rome and Cleopatra would find out that she must maintain that ally by befriending the most powerful man in Rome. For her father that man had been Pompey. During the Roman civil war it was clear to her brother that Pompey was no longer the man to back and had him beheaded. Cleopatra was twenty-one and also in the same danger as Pompey. At the time of Pompey’s arrival, Cleopatra was in exile, fleeing for her life from her brother. As was tradition, Cleopatra and her brother were meant to rule jointly as husband and wife. As also was tradition, sibling rivalry took on a deathly meaning. When Caesar came ashore in his hunt for Pompey, Cleopatra saw her chance to save her life and her rule in Egypt. Caesar stayed in the Ptolemies’ palace and summoned the brother and sister in order to secure a stable Egypt (which was in Rome’s best financial interest). Cleopatra thought it best to get to Caesar first to plead her case. It was dangerous for her to walk herself into the palace, so she had a servant smuggle her in over his shoulder in a sack used for transporting rugs. The chances that she emerged, from this journey in a sack, in majestic

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