Who was Cleopatra?
Like most monarchs of her time, Cleopatra saw herself as divine; from birth she and other members of her family were declared to be gods and goddesses. Highly image-conscious, Cleopatra maintained her mystique through shows of splendour, identifying herself with the deities Isis and Aphrodite, and in effect creating much of the mythology that surrounds her to this day. Though Hollywood versions of her story are jam-packed with anachronisms, embellishments, exaggerations and inaccuracies, the Cleopatra's of Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh and Claudette Colbert do share with the real queen a love of pageantry. "Cleopatra was a mistress of disguise and costume," says Fletcher. "She could reinvent herself to suit the occasion, and I think that's a mark of the consummate politician."
When Cleopatra emerged from the carpet—probably somewhat dishevelled, but dressed in her best finery—and begged Caesar for aid, the gesture won over Rome's future dictator-for-life. With his help Cleopatra regained Egypt's throne. Ptolemy XIII rebelled against the armistice that Caesar had imposed, but in the ensuing civil war he drowned in the Nile, leaving Cleopatra safely in power.
We will watch a 40 minutes documentary and then we can have a discussion.
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