Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Mieography

Going Waaaay back for this one. Way back.
Cleopatra, to be exact.
And no, I am not talking the Liz Taylor version. I am talking about the Queen of Egypt.
Her mother was Cleopatra V, and she actually ruled Egypt herself with another daughter, Berenice IV for a year before she died.
Her father was Ptolemy XII Auletes, a direct descendant of a great General from Alexander the Great's time.
Cleopatra's father's reign of Egypt was very tumultuous, it involved losing the crown, getting it back, then having his daughter, Berenice IV seize power from him. He answered her back by gaining assistance from his neighbors, overturning her, then, having her executed. Another of his daughters took over after that, and she was killed as well.
This left Cleopatra, and her younger brother (Who was also her husband. (ick)) as joint heirs to the throne. Her father died in March of 51 BC, making her, and her brother,(husband!) whom was 12, joint heirs to the throne. During the first three years of their rule, they had a difficult time, related to famine, the Nile Flooding more than once, political conflict, and economic hardship.
During this time, she quickly showed that she had no indication of sharing her power with her brother/husband. She eventually dropped his name from all the official documents, and her face alone appeared on the coin of the realm. This resulted in the courtiers become disgruntled at her breaking against tradition, and they removed her from power, making her brother/husband the sole ruler. She tried to raise a rebellion, but failed, and was forced to flee from Egypt with her only surviving sister.
While she was in exile, her brother/husband had a famous Roman killed, and the head presented to Julius Caesar when he visited Egypt. Rather than being pleased, Caesar was pissed, as the man was his former son in law. In his anger, Caesar seized the Egyptian capital, and made himself the arbiter between the rival claims of Cleopatra, and her brother/husband. Always one to use her feminine wiles, Cleopatra had herself delivered to the palace rolled into a Persian Carpet. Her servants unrolled her, and it is said, he was charmed. She became his mistress, and 9 months later, gave birth to their son. He of course, backed her claim to the throne. A short civil war ensued, and her brother/husband was eventually drowned in the Nile. She was restored to the throne, and yet another brother was situated as her new co-ruler.
Despite their 30 year age difference, Cleopatra and Caesar remained lovers. She wanted Caesar to name their son, Caesarion, (meaning, little Caesar (pizzapizza!)) as his heir, but he did not. She had dreams of him being the intended inheritor of Egypt and Rome, uniting the East and West.
She and Caesarion visited Rome and were present when Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. She immediately returned to Egypt. Her younger brother and co-regent died after she got back, and she had her son made her co-regent and successor. To safeguard his reign, she had her only remaining sister killed, which was a common practice of that time.
In 42 BC, Mark Antony, who was part of the power of Rome, summoned her to meet him and answer questions about her loyalty. She arrived, and, once again, used her feminine wiles to her benefit. He chose to stay in Alexandia with her. She gave birth to twins fathered by him. He visited again 4 years later, and then, never left Alexandria. He married Cleopatra, in the Egyptian way (though he was at the time, married to a Roman) and they had another child. Egypt was a large, dominant country by then, and had taken over many of their neighbors. The ruling of these neighboring countries was divided out amongst all of Cleopatra's children, the ones she had with Caesar, and the children with Anthony. She and Caesarion remained rulers of Egypt. She had herself titled "The Queen of Kings". She also was planning a war of revenge against Rome.
Back in Rome, the Senate were obviously not pleased with Antony's behavior, and decided to levy a war of their own against Egypt. Egypt was, surprisingly, not prepared well enough for this war. The Egyptian army actually deserted Antony and joined the Roman one...
Seeing her reign come to an end, Cleopatra died. The ancient sources are in agreement that she poisoned herself by inducing an asp t bite her. Her 2 loyal handmaidens died at her side. Antony stabbed himself, and eventually died from his wounds.
Her son with Caesar, Caesarion, was proclaimed pharaoh by the Egyptians, but, yet, Rome was already in control. They captured and executed Caesarion This ended the line of all Egyptian Pharaohs. The other children of Antony and Cleopatra were taken back to rome, where they were raised by Antony's Roman wife.


Jo Beaufoix said...

Blimey, I thought I knew a little about Cleopatra but I didn't realise she was such a hussy. Her own brother, bleurghhh. Just catching up Mie. :D

mielikki said...

I don't believe she was given a choice about marrying her brother. It was just "done" then, to keep "pure" bloodlines. She was still a hussy, though. At least she didn't have kids with him

sybil law said...

I LOVE Cleopatra and all the crazy assed shit that came with and before her. "Rome" was so good on HBO - if you haven't seen it, you should at least rent it on DVD. The girl that played her made me love her and the whole realm that much more!
Obviously, this one was right up my alley! Thanks. :)

holly said...

ew ew ew.

this story could benefit from the lack of brotherly love. seriously.

loved it though, mie.