Whenever we are asked to name the most beautiful woman of all time, without hesitation we name Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, whose life was as romantic as in a novel. However, history has shown us that the facts we thought we knew, are not true. Here is a list of five myths.
Cleopatra was not born as an Egyptian, as we believe. She descended from a family of Macedonians, natives of Greece. She belonged to the Ptolemaic dynasty who ruled after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. However, she adopted Egyptian culture and customs as no other ruler did. Her mother tongue was Koine Greek, though she used Egyptian language and mingled with the locals.
That Cleopatra was a woman of unusual beauty is also a myth. The coins of her time have shown her face which was quite ordinary with a crooked nose and pointed chin. Her brow was curved and was extended to her nose. However, her presentation of herself portrayed her as a beautiful woman. When she met Mark Antony dressed as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, she sailed down the river Nile on a golden barge, with purple sails and silver oars. The effect was truly dramatic.
She was not the only Cleopatra in history. The name “Cleopatra” means in Greek “the glory of her father”. She was the seventh Cleopatra of Ptolemaic dynasty. But she surpassed all her namesakes in intelligence and fame, so that we don’t bother about other queens when we hear the name ‘Cleopatra’.
She was not the first female pharaoh, as believed. According to Ptolemaic custom she became the queen mother, the custodian of the throne and the ruler of the land till her ward came of age. In fact, Hatshepsut was one of the earliest female pharaohs of Egypt. However, Cleopatra was very strong in her character and she declared that she was not to be conquered ever.
Her suicidal death by snakebite was also a myth. William Shakespeare, in his novel has written that Cleopatra died of suicide by snakebite. Many people believe that as Cleopatra was defeated by Octavius Caesar, she feared that she would be compelled to march through the streets of Rome as was Roman custom. Therefore, she committed suicide. However, there is no historical evidence of that like wound of fangs and it is possible she was murdered by Octavius Caesar.