Cleopatra VII’s Death
Cleopatra VII left a legacy after ruling as Egypt’s queen during the Ptolemaic period. She was a proud daughter of Ptolemy Auletes and had a brother called Ptolemy Dionysius (Lempriere, 1833). Cleopatra VII mastered the art of winning against her opponents by always ensuring that everything is done appropriately if it is done her way. She was deeply endowed with richness, beauty, sensual charm, and shrewdness (Lempriere, 1833). These became her trademarks until her mysterious death. Various accounts have provided public with information about her death. As much as there are conflicting accounts regarding her death, there seems to be some of agreement on the events preceding Cleopatra VII’s death. Her death resulted from a complex web of conspiracies, which she exploited to ensure that she always remained favorable in the eyes of her enemies and friends.
Cleopatra VII supported Brutus and that is why Antony demanded of her to make a formal appearance before him (Lempriere, 1833). This took place during his official expedition to Parthia. Cleopatra made an appearance in the most magnificent apparel, and her stunning beauty caught the eyes of Antony who then decided to marry her (Lempriere, 1833). For Cleopatra VII, this was a strategic move because it increased her chances of fulfilling her interests. This act of marriage between Antony and Cleopatra was a sign of weakness on Antony’s behalf because he overlooked the association between her and Augustus’ sister, Octavia (Lempriere, 1833). As a result, there was a major split that occurred between August and Antony. Their split blamed Cleopatra VII, who was now perceived as an opportunistic intruder seeking for revenge over the incidents that had taken place between her and Caesar.
Blindly, Antony proceeded to subdivide the greatest part of Roman Empire’s, Eastern province, and gave it to Cleopatra VII as a bridal gift (Lempriere, 1833). The gift was to serve as a sign of the nuptial union that had taken place between the two. This gift seriously angered Augustus and caused a rift between him and Antony (Lempriere, 1833). Afterwards, the two shared different ideological views. August and Antony were both celebrated icons of the Roman Empire (Lempriere, 1833). Thus, August felt as if the entire glory was shifting towards Antony. They met at Actium to sort out their differences where Cleopatra decided to abandon Antony at the battlefront, and Antony was defeated (Lempriere, 1833). Cleopatra fled to her territory in Egypt.
In his quest to find Cleopatra, Antony decided to follow her to Egypt. An emissary provided Antony with false information that Cleopatra was dead; consequently, making Antony inflict self-harm with an aim of committing suicide (Lempriere, 1833). Cleopatra took Antony’s body and hanged it as a monument outside one of her windows until he died. This served as a symbol of her success in outwitting Rome. Later, August made a solemn declaration of love to Cleopatra with an aim of avenging Antony’s death (Lempriere, 1833). Cleopatra could not face this reality; therefore, she agitated an asp to bite her, which led to her death (Lempriere, 1833).
Impact of Cleopatra VII’s death on Egypt and the Mediterranean World
The death of Cleopatra VII had a major impact because of the mixed interpretations that accompanied it. Her death came at a time when she had amassed admiration because of her careful tact of doing things. Even in her death, she had avoided potential death and public disgrace in the eyes of her tormentor, August, who wanted to show his might. According to Rollin (1812) “to avoid serving as an ornament in Caesar’s triumph, she dies by the bite of an aspic” (p.282). In this regard, Cleopatra’s death dealt a major blow to Egypt’s resilience and status as a strong nation capable of amassing a legion of fighters to save its territorial integrity. The fact that Cleopatra was not able to do this implied that Egypt had surrendered its prowess, which had been earned over a significant period.
Cleopatra’s death implied that Egypt has finally fallen as a captive nation. This is because Egypt turned in a Roman province after it took place (Lempriere, 1833). In essence, the death of Cleopatra marks the victory of Rome over Egypt in the battle of Actium, and to symbolize their win, the Romans later display a dummy of the queen and an asp biting her arm (Lempriere, 1833). Thus, by using the dummy, the Romans illustrated the submissive nature of Egypt to the entire Mediterranean world. Additionally, the fact that Cleopatra VII was a woman, Rome was passing a message that women could not be trusted as rulers. Moreover, they were strengthening the fact that a patriarchal ruling system was more reliable than the matriarch system that Egypt promoted.
Cleopatra’s death marked the end of the pharaoh rule in Egypt. For a long time the Egypt’s pharaohs have been associated with massive corruption and exploitation of the country’s wealth. The adoration given to the Pharaohs was similar to that given to the Deity. For example, Cleopatra VII always dressed to emulate the goddess of Isis (Lempriere, 1833). This implies that the pharaohs were fondly regarded as symbolic reincarnations of the much-adored gods of the Greek society. As a result, they would gladly engage in splendor using the resources of the society with little consideration of the people. For example, in one feast that she arranged for Antony, she generously melted pearls into her drink with an aim of rendering the entertainment an expensive one (Lempriere, 1833). This shows the utter exploitation that existed among the pharaoh’s of Egypt; hence, the death of Cleopatra VII was an important transition to a new rule albeit a dictatorial one.
Cleopatra’s death enabled Rome to regain its territorial superiority in the expansive Mediterranean geographical entity. This is because of the nuptial union between Cleopatra VII and Antony, a significant portion of the eastern Mediterranean lands were allocated to Caesarian and his children, which had been labeled as a scandal to Roman rule (Gagarin & Fantham, 2010). This implied that after the death of Cleopatra VII, August could now reverse some of the dynastic relations that had been formed between Rome and Egypt. Indeed, through Cleopatra VII’s manipulations when she was alive, she had given birth to children from her union with Caesar and her relationship with Antony had further deepened the intrusion into Rome’s ruling lineage. Gagarin & Fantham (2010) remarked that Cleopatra VII considered appearing as a foreign queen in the eyes of Rome; thus, she was a major threat to the continuity of the Roman order. Consequently, there was a major change in the dynastic relations since Egypt’s lineage was gradually finding its way into Rome through Cleopatra VII. Hence, when she died, it meant that the associations could no longer continue, and Rome could reclaim its glory in the vast Mediterranean.
Cleopatra’s death also marked the immortalization of the Greek gods who acquired universal significance in the expansive Mediterranean lands and Egypt (Bowman, 1996). This is due to the fact of the adoration given to Cleopatra with regard to the goddess of Isis. As a result, a traditional cult developed and expanded to the Mediterranean resulting in the development of new literature and art forms (Bowman, 1996). This also resulted in the extended admiration of the Ptolemaic dynasty using statues that revered by many. The death of Cleopatra also marked the transition from the Hellenistic society in to a unique period that became known as the Pax Romana (Gagarin & Fantham, 2010).
In the modern day society, Cleopatra’s death has an influence on the interpretation of gender issues in society with regard to the female gender. According to Gagarin & Fantham (2010), Cleopatra was idolized as a symbol of women’s power and beauty. As a result, throughout history, Cleopatra VII’s death transformed the ideology of woman as a rule in society. Similar to certain women personalities in the modern world, Cleopatra VII had perfected the art of seduction to an unrivaled level. She has willingly and cleverly exploited the charm of her beauty to affect men. She had characterized this response from men of her time as a weakness. As a result, she exploited all dimensions of it to ensure that she remained favorable. This was a clever way of protecting the integrity of her kingdom while at the same time infiltrating the Roman Empire.
Consequently, Cleopatra VII contributed to the involvement of women in domains where men are used to dominate. For example, the African American women highly regarded Cleopatra partly because of her African lineage (Gagarin & Fantham, 2010). Thus, the involvement of certain women leaders in civil activism and politics can largely be attributed to her contribution during her rule as queen of Egypt. This also shows how Cleopatra continues to provide inspiration in societies where women are not given much highlight like their male counterparts. Finally, this has an impact in reducing gender barriers placed on women in paternalistic societies through initiation of positive empowerment strategies