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Common Myths About Cleopatra

She was Egyptian


Nope, she was Greek. Her family lived in Egypt for three
hundred years or so, which might make her Egyptian in your
eyes and mine, but to the Egyptians she was still Greek. She
was descended from the general Ptolemy who served under
Alexander the Great during his conquests. Following
Alexander's untimely death, Ptolemy and two other generals
divided up his empire and he got Egypt.

She was beautiful


Depends on who you ask, but most would agree that she
wouldn't have won any beauty contests. She had a large
hooked nose and fleshy face. You can see this in the Roman
coins Antony had minted in her honor. Elizabeth Taylor she
wasn't.

Cleopatra wore her hair with bangs


Watching any of the Hollywood movies based on her "life," one
would assume it was the height of Egyptian fashion to wear
bangs. Not so, Cleopatra wore a wig of tight curls on her
shaven head. Claudette Colbert in Cecil B. DeMille's 1934
classic wore bangs because she had a personal fondness for
them. In the early 1960's bangs were 'in', so Elizabeth Taylor
wore them in the 1963 re-make.

Cleopatra was so wickedly decadent she dissolved a


monstrously expensive pearl in a cup of vinegar (or
wine).
Maybe they made vinegar differently in those days, but
currently, pearls do not dissolve in vinegar.

Julius Caesar was in love with her.


Doubtful. If he was interested in her, it was for her money.
Egypt was a rich country and the Roman civil wars were
expensive. Of course, he claimed the money was owed to him
anyhow due to a large debt Cleopatra's father ran up. In fact he
was so enamored with her he made sure she got a proper
marriage - to someone else, her brother.

Antony fell in love with Cleopatra at first sight.


They knew each other for years before they ever fell in love;
assuming that he loved her at all.

Antony loved Cleopatra


This one could be true, but let's examine the evidence. There
was the time they met in Asia Minor and made love.
Afterwards, Antony agreed to kill Cleopatra's sister so that she
wouldn't have any challenges to her authority. Then he went
back to his wife.

Luckily for Cleopatra, his wife died about this time, so he


immediately married - someone else. His second wife Octavia
was the sister of his rival, Octavian. The marriage helped
Antony maintain his political position. Of course, as soon as he
found the time, he ran off to see Cleopatra and the twins he
fathered. Cleopatra was irritated. It had been three and a half
years since he had visited.

Cleopatra killed herself out of grief after the


death of Antony
No doubt she was upset at her lover's death, however it seems
that she killed herself because she was led to believe that she
was going to be disgracefully paraded through Rome in chains.

Cleopatra died from the bite of an asp.


Again, this is an iffy one. The story of the asp first comes to us
from Plutarch, but he didn't say it was actually true. All we
know for sure is that there were two tiny marks on her arm
when her body was found.