Introduction to Humanities
7 July 2014
Hardly any personalities from the Hellenistic period (323 BC – 31 BC) are as renowned as Cleopatra VII (69 BC – 30 BC), the Egyptian queen. The focus of a wide array of Western historical texts, music, poems, literature, and arts, Cleopatra has been widely portrayed as a Queen who ruled her subjects and her Roman lovers through sex and gender. Despite such portrayals, very little is known about Cleopatra and there are doubts among historians that such accounts are an inaccurate depiction of Cleopatra. This paper will research studies on Cleopatra to determine whether the accounts of her ruling through sexual liaisons are accurate or they are propaganda developed to tarnish her impeccable reputation.
The argument among scholars is that most of the accounts that currently depict Cleopatra VII as a Queen who used sex and gender to rule are erroneous. Roller argues that those accounts are the consequence of a perverse male-dominated historiography out to depict her as an extension of men in her life (2). According to Roller, modern and ancient male-dominated historiographies betray their chauvinistic attitudes towards Cleopatra in the manner in which they portray her primary accomplishments as the destruction of her male lovers (2). Such portrayals were necessary because of their effectiveness in discrediting Cleopatra’s achievements.
Roller and Salisbury’s studies dismiss claims that Cleopatra ruled through sex and gender through his argument that Cleopatra was the first woman in classical era and the Hellenistic era to rule independently. Unlike other female rulers, Cleopatra did not ascend to the throne by succeeding her husband or her father (Roller 4; Salisbury 52). Although her father, Ptolemy XII, was the ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, she did not succeed him at the time of his death (Salisbury 52). Societal rules against female leadership prevented her from ascending
Cited: Anderson, Jaynie and GIovanni Tiepolo. Tiepolo 's Cleopatra. New South Wales: MacMillan Education, 2003. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=K_zR2mHWPmoC&pg=PA54&dq=cleopatra+was+not+promiscuous&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NOinU7OYJ-uR1AXig4CADQ&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=cleopatra%20was%20not%20promiscuous&f=false Aubyn, Eli. "Cleopatra 's corpse: Motivation for Cleopatra 's suicide in ancient texts." Studies in Mediterranean Antiquity and Classics 1.1 (2006): 1-18. Hook, Sidney. The hero in history. New York: Cosimo Inc, 2008. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=ZhEHmhHQAAkC&pg=PA178&dq=cleopatra+tricked+antony+into+suicide&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wtunU4iIBcaN0AWZ1oGIDg&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=cleopatra%20tricked%20antony%20into%20suicide&f=false Jones, Prudence. Cleopatra: The last pharaoh. London: Haus Publishing, 2006. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=8dI-XSUO-PcC&pg=PA55&dq=cleopatra+avenge+Caesar%27s+assassination&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MdinU5r4IYPcOt6ZgRg&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=cleopatra%20avenge%20Caesar 's%20assassination&f=false Kleiner, Diana. Cleopatra and Rome. New York: Harvard University Press, 2009. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=KQB8Q8yarkUC&pg=PA53&dq=cleopatra+naval+commander&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6d6nU5emD8yV0QXAvIDIBQ&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=cleopatra%20naval%20commander&f=false Roberts, Peter. HSC ancient history. New York: Pascal Press, 2006. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=Krh7n9AyS40C&pg=PA128&dq=cleopatra+was+not+promiscuous&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NOinU7OYJ-uR1AXig4CADQ&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=cleopatra%20was%20not%20promiscuous&f=false Roller, Duane. Cleopatra: A biography. New York: Oxford Universi, 2010. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=85rikTt-kBEC&pg=PA2&dq=cleopatra+first+woman+to+rule+independently&hl=en&sa=X&ei=adSnU7XkG8330gX_xoCIBA&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=cleopatra%20first%20woman%20to%20rule%20independently&f=false Salisbury, Joyce. Encyclopedia of women in the ancient world. New York: ABC-CLIO, 2001. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=HF0m3spOebcC&pg=PA50&dq=cleopatra+war+with+her+brother&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_NSnU6GONoXW0QWelIDIDg&ved=0CEoQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=cleopatra%20war%20with%20her%20brother&f=false