She was born 69 B.C. and died 30 B.C. and 2,083 years later, we still want to be her. You still see Cleopatra costumes — a sign that the ancient Egyptian queen’s got staying power in the human psyche. Here are 17 things you didn’t know about Cleopatra, a woman we’ve wanted to be since ancient times.
Sources: kismetpotions.com, itsgila.com, yurtopic.com
Rome took over Egypt after Cleopatra’s death. Her son, Caesarion, ruled Egypt on his own for a short time but was defeated by Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. After that, Egypt was known as Aegyptus.
In fact, her full title is Cleopatra VII Philopator, signifying that there were six Cleopatras before her. One of the six was Alexander the Great’s sister, Cleopatra. But the name was made famous only by one — helped no doubt by the actor Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 epic, “Cleopatra.”
The tempting, cat-eye trademark black ring around Cleopatra’s eyes and the sweep of black makeup out to her cheek was not just for vanity’s sake. Egyptians faced a variety of illnesses back in the day, including eye infections. Kohl was thought to contain properties that fought eye ailments.
Oils and perfumes were used by everyday Egyptians during Cleopatra’s time, especially to protect from the sun, and the stink of a sweaty body. Allegedly, our girl owned an entire perfume and cosmetics factory near the Dead Sea on land bequeathed to her by Marc Antony.
Purportedly, stuffed pigeon with a side of local, seasonal vegetables was the plat du jour for the Lady of the Nile. On special nights a fresh Nile catch would be served up. Desserts were rife with figs, sweet honey, and spirits. Dining, drinking, and conversation were highly valued in the royal Egyptian court.
At one of those dinners, she employed the seductive powers of science to win a wager with her man Marc. The night apparently went like this: Antony bet her that she couldn’t spend a fortune on one meal, so to prove him wrong, she dropped a very expensive set of pearls in a cocktail and everyone watched them dissolve. Science shows that pearls and vinegar do not compliment each other.
Many scholars and academics claim that Cleopatra had a more masculine and rough look than the Elizabeth-Taylor image we think of today. A 2,000-year-old coin (above) was found, depicting Cleopatra with a protruding nose, sharp chin, and a roly-poly neck.
It’s said she knew eight different languages fluently. Besides her native Greek, scholars point to her knowing the languages of the Ethiopians, Arabians, Hebrews, Troglodytes (yes, cave people), Syrians, Parthians, and Medes.
Cleopatra’s subjects believed she was the reincarnation of the Goddess Isis. Isis was considered the ideal mother and wife, as well as the patroness of nature and magic.
Many believe that Cleopatra committed suicide by laying an asp on her chest and letting it bite her.
Cleopatra’s family was actually from Macedonia and followed Alexander the Great to Egypt where the family came to be regarded as Egyptian royalty. They quickly picked up all the local Egyptian customs including incest — having pharaohs marry their siblings.
To preserve her skin and to remain looking youthful, Cleopatra is said to have bathed daily in milk.
During her rule, Cleopatra was married to two of her brothers. Eventually, her own son, Caesarion, stepped in as co-ruler with her.
Cleopatra’s brother, Ptolemy XIII, was supposed to share the rule of Egypt with his sister, Cleopatra. But in an attempt to gain complete power, Ptolemy XIII forced Cleopatra to flee Egypt. Cleopatra only regained power when she had an affair with Julius Caesar.
Cleopatra wrote a medical and pharmacological work entitled “Cosmetics,” which detailed remedies for hair loss, dandruff and other physical ailments with symptoms that had implications for aesthetics.
Cleopatra killed her sister, who was rallying troops to overthrow her, and her brother Ptolemy XIV, whom she supposedly poisoned after the birth of her son.
Cleopatra had four children — the first by Caesar and three more by Marcus Antonius. Only one of her children, Cleopatra Selene, survived childhood and went on to become the Queen of Mauretania.