Cleopatra VII Philopator or just “Cleopatra” to most of us, is one of the most famous female rulers in history. She has been the subject of tireless research, biographies, plays and movies, as well as myth, legend and speculation. Although we have deciphered some of her compelling history, much is still to be learned of the legendary leader. Indisputable is the complex history that includes political strategizing, royal heritage, plots, trials, deception and death. Here are seven details that may help unravel her mystery.
Katy Perry gets super-bling for her Cleopatra debut in “Dark Horse.”
1. Greek not Egyptian
Cleopatra belonged to the Ptolemaic Dynasty, the Macedonian Greek royal family that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great‘s conquest during the Hellenistic Period, making her Greek not Egyptian. The Ptolemies spoke only Greek, which explains why some Greek is shown in official documents from Egypt at the time.
2. Not death by snake bite
Popular belief is that Cleopatra died by willingly being bitten by an asp, however, research suggests she most likely would not have wanted to endure the prolonged suffering of the snake bite, so instead, committed suicide by ingesting lethal poisons like hemlock, wolfsbane and opium, which would allow her to fall into a painless but fatal slumber.
3. Her make-up was an immune booster
Her trademark sultry kohl-rimmed eye makeup was apparently not to lure men, but was an immune booster. Based on research, the substances used around her eye area contained particular properties that boosted the production of helpful chemicals and supported the immune system.
4. She was a fashion designer, sort of
She intertwined Greek and Egyptian looks by incorporating elements like Greek-style draping with the more revealing and provocative styles of popular Egyptian fashion trends. More than likely this was a shrewd political move meant to bring the two cultures closer together.
5. She is the reincarnation of Isis
A true strategist, she believed that by convincing her subjects that she was the reincarnation of the goddess Isis they would believe they were able to interact with an actual goddess. To help perpetuate the belief, she had portraits and sculptures made to reflect her as the goddess.
6. Not a looker
Claims of her unsurpassed beauty are most likely false. According to the Greek historian Plutarch, her beauty was not “the sort that would astound those who saw her.” If this ancient coin made in her image is an accurate depiction, to some they might be right; however, we all know…beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
7. She was the last Pharaoh of Egypt
After her death Egypt became a Roman province. Octavian (later known as Augustus) became the first Roman Emperor, launching a new era in history.