Ancient History Essay
In the ancient world, male dominated societies, known as patriarchy, prevailed. Men occupied roles of supremacy and power. Those few women, who did succeed in gaining positions of power, marked their place in history. Most notable among them were Hatshepsut (1508 – 1458 BC), Cleopatra (69 – 30 BC) and Agrippina (15 – 59 AD). Hatshepsut was one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an Egyptian dynasty. Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty and was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. Agrippina was a Roman Empress who was once the most powerful woman in Roman Empire. Each had to overcome ingrained prejudices and faced barriers that their male counterparts did not. Their strategies for gaining power in a world of men varied but they were clever, resourceful, ruthless and ambitious. They effectively used the power that men held to their own advantage. Cleopatra was portrayed as a great beauty, who very strategically formed successful liaisons with men of power, which was a contributing factor for achieving the power she sought.
Cleopatra has been a topic of interest throughout history and is seen as a woman of mystery. By all accounts she was an alluring woman who used this to her advantage. Cassius Dio, a source of primary evidence and Roman consul of the 1st century AD, wrote,
“She was a woman of surpassing beauty …. She possessed a most charming voice and knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to everyone” (pg. 42)
Plutarch, Greek historian as well as biographer of Roman Emperors reiterates Cassius Dio’s view on Cleopatra in 75 AD in ‘Life of Antony’ (a secondary source), where he wrote
“her beauty, as we are told, was in itself neither altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her……….. What ultimately made Cleopatra attractive were her wit, charm and sweetness in the tones of her voice." (pg. 27)
Accounts of Cleopatra also typically present her using...
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