Was cleopatra beautiful?

Why is it that Cleopatra is considered by some to be one of the most seductive and beautiful women in all history?

Was Cleopatra Beautiful?

The Cleopatra of history was actually Cleopatra VII who was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 69 BC. Her father, Ptolemy XII, was of Greek ancestry and was a cruel and unpopular ruler. He was most probably married to his own sister, Cleopatra V, as marriage between brothers and sisters was common during the Ptolemaic dynasty.

There are many different schools of thought about whether or not she was beautiful; some say she was and others that she had a long, bent nose and coarse, more masculine features. But there is a general agreement amongst historians that she gave a lot of attention to the care of her body and the way she deported herself. It is also agreed that men found her very attractive and her ways, seductive.

Cleopatra certainly understood the benefits of allying herself with powerful men. She needed to marry her younger brothers, in order to secure a role as at least part-leader of Egypt, even if in reality they were simply marriages of convenience at least this way she was able to control the reins of power.

When Alexandria was overtaken by Caesar, leader of the Roman Empire, Cleopatra arranged to be smuggled into his Court wrapped up in a carpet. Caesar was taken with her attractiveness and became her lover almost immediately. She later gave birth to a son who she named Little Caesar. When Caesar was later murdered at the hands of conspirators against him, Cleopatra later became the lover of Mark Antony, one of the three men who became Emperors of Rome after Caesar’s death.

It is reported that when Mark Antony first summoned Cleopatra to speak with him, she arrived on a barge, lying under a golden canopy, dressed as Venus, the goddess of Love, fanned by an entourage of young boys dressed as Cupids. Her handmaidens were costumed as sea nymphs. The barge that carried her was lavishly decorated with purple sails and a gilded stern. Certainly one way of getting his attention!

When Mark Antony, died of self-inflicted wounds, having lost his status and his power and believing Cleopatra dead, she, too, could see no future for herself. At 39, having lived much longer than the average age expected for a woman of her time and having lost not only her lover but also her kingdom Cleopatra too, lost her desire to live. A prisoner of Octavian, she committed suicide, though it is not certain how. She had knowledge of poisons, but was also found to have two poisonous asp-like marks on her body, fuelling speculation that she may have had the poisonous snake smuggled into her prison cell in a basket of figs. In her suicide note she pleaded to be buried in Antony’s tomb, and Octavian was later to grant this last wish.

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