Me in Matera, Italy

Friday, 22 April 2011

2000 years of bad press

While I was on vacation, I decided I wanted to learn about my name sake Cleopatra so I read the book by Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra A Life.

As the young powerful ruler of Egypt, she was labeled the "wickedest woman in history" partially because of her perceived manipulation of two very powerful leaders, Caesar and Antony, but also because of her extensive wealth and decadence and the decisions she made during her reign.

I believe Cleopatra is misunderstood and the victim of 2000 years of bad press, a woman ruling in a man's world.  She didn't do any thing any more "wicked" then any male ruler of the time but because she was a woman she stood out and was judged much too harshly.  I see Cleopatra as a clever and ingenious survivor.  She spoke nine languages, traveled all over the world and led Egypt for twenty years, starting when she was just 19 years old.  I appreciate her tenacity; she came up with one crazy scheme after another and maneuvered her way through all kinds of ridiculous situations.

I doubt anyone really knows the truth about this elusive woman, probably one of the most talked about woman in history.  Based on the perspective presented in this book, I can't help but admire her ~ she lived and died on her own terms.  Was Cleopatra the queen of denial?  She certainly didn't deny herself power, wealth, extravagance or love;  however she clearly denied the status quo and persevered until she got what she wanted.  Even thousands of years later, Cleopatra's loves and life continues to enthrall us ~ she's given people through the ages lots to talk about.

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