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Women's History Month: Cleopatra

Women's History Month: Cleopatra

The last few weeks we've looked at some astonishing ladies for Women's History Month.

This week I wanted to take a look at Cleopatra. A woman recognized all over the world for her beauty, fashion and the stories of her romantic life. So little is known of her as a political figure and ruler.

She has been a captivating figure throughout time immortalized by every great painter, written about by Shakespeare and portrayed by one of the most engaging actresses.

With all that she accomplished in life so little is known about her outside of her romances.

Here are some interesting facts about this universally recognizable of figure.

She Was A Teenager When She Came Into Power

Cleopatra VII ruled ancient Egypt as co-regent for almost three decades. Cleopatra was a daughter of Ptolemy XII the Egyptian throne passed to Cleopatra and her brother when she was 18-year-old . She became the last in a dynasty of Macedonian

She Was More Intelligent Than We Knew

Well-educated and clever, Cleopatra could speak various languages and served as the dominant ruler in all three of her co-regencies.

She Had Her Work Cut Out For Her

She inherited a kingdom in decline. For ten generations her family, the Ptolemies, had styled themselves pharaohs.The pyramids already sported graffiti. The Sphinx had undergone a major restoration more than 1,000 years earlier. And the glory of the once-great Ptolemaic empire had dimmed. Over the course of Cleopatra’s childhood Rome extended its rule nearly to Egypt’s borders. The implications for the last great kingdom in that sphere of influence were clear. Its ruler had no choice but to court the most powerful Roman of the day.

There Were Battles To Maintain Her Position

At twenty-one-year-old she became a fugitive on the losing side of a civil war against her brother. While in exile she managed to form an alliance with Julius Caesar and helped him to wage a successful resistance to her brothers soldiers. All while pregnant with Cesar's child.

Not Just A Queen But A Ruler

For the next 18 years Cleopatra governed the most fertile country in the Mediterranean, guiding it through plague and famine.She had her hands full. Not only did she command an army and navy, negotiate with foreign powers and preside over temples, she also dispensed justice and regulated an economy. 

A Peaceful Reign

Cleopatra was seen as the beneficent guardian of her subjects. Her reign is notable for the absence of revolts in the Egyptian countryside, quieter than it had been for a century and a half.

Her Legacy Lived On

Alexandria remained a vital center of the Mediterranean for a few centuries after Cleopatra’s death.After a fifth-century A.D. earthquake, Cleopatra’s palace slid into the Mediterranean. Alexandria’s magnificent lighthouse, library and museum are all gone. The city has sunk some 20 feet. Ptolemaic culture evaporated as well. Much of what Cleopatra knew would be neglected for 1,500 years. Even the Nile has changed course.


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