You must’ve heard of Queen Cleopatra many times and think that you know everything about this legendary Egyptian. Then you should learn the facts listed below that will definitely surprise you!
1. Cleopatra’s origin has nothing to do with Egypt
In spite of the fact that Cleopatra ruled Egypt for twenty years and developed a reputation as a wise and perceptive queen, she wasn’t an Egyptian. It’s widely acknowledged that the woman descended from the Ptolemies family. The Ptolemies themselves descended from the Greek warlord Alexander the Great.
According to historical records, not only weren’t the members of the Ptolemies Egyptians, but they also didn’t respect the traditions of the Egyptian people, although they ruled their country for three hundred years.
Pharaohs conducted the way of life similar to Greek one, followed their customs and even spoke their language. Queen Cleopatra was the first ruler of Egypt who decided to learn local traditions and speak Ancient Egyptian.
2. The product of inbreeding
Today incest is not only taboo, but it’s also a crime, whereas several thousand years ago such sexual intercourse was considered a norm, especially among royal families. Legends say that the god named Osiris entered into a marriage with the goddess Isis who was his sister.
Egyptian pharaohs followed their example. But the thing is, Osiris and his relative weren’t humans, so they were hardly threatened with some kind of genetic mutation.
Not only were marriages between the members of the Ptolemies’ family considered a norm, but that was necessary, since only in that way it was possible to keep their noble bloodline closed.
They say that Ptolemy XII’s wife and hence Cleopatra’s mother could be his sister. By the way, the Egyptian queen herself followed the family tradition and at first she married one of her brothers, and after his death she married another one.
3. She had a non-standard beauty
It is widely assumed that the queen’s beauty was able to outshine the sun. It seems unlikely that historians praised her physical traits when they said that about Cleopatra.
In 2007 an old coin with the queen’s engraved picture was found. From the look of it, she was no match for a sex symbol.
The Roman historian Plutarch said that her appearance wasn’t fascinating. She enchanted men not with perfect facial features and a seductive body shape, but with her superior intelligence and charm. All she did and said mesmerized men.
Queen Cleopatra was an extraordinarily educated woman for her time. She studied history, medical science, mathematics, alchemy, economics, geography, diplomacy and other subjects. That’s what set her apart from all the other Ancient Egypt women.
4. Cleopatra was fluent in 9 languages
The Egyptian queen was the first ruler of the family of Ptolemies speaking ancient Egyptian.
Moreover, some sources claim that she was fluent in at least 9 languages and was able to communicate with almost all ethnic groups that inhabited Egypt.
But more importantly, as opposed to her ancestors, Cleopatra followed Egyptian traditions, always appeared in public wearing national costumes and worshiped local gods. That’s why common people didn’t have a hard time believing that their ruler was the reincarnated goddess Isis.
5. She killed her brother and sister
Queen Cleopatra was not only a smart, practical and charming person, but she could also be cruel if needed.
According to Egyptian traditions, pharaohs were permitted to rule only in pairs. That’s why the queen married her brother Ptolemy XIII. Initially, she ruled the country on behalf of him. After a little while that the newly-minted husband ganged up on his wife about that tyranny.
The queen, for her part, appealed to Caesar for assistance. Enmity between the brother and sister ended with a revolt and the death of Ptolemy XIII.
After that, the ruler married another brother. He died soon in strange circumstances. It was rumored that Cleopatra put the poison in his food. Later, the queen ordered to execute her sister named Arsinoe that had sided with Ptolemy during a family feud and even got some nerve proclaiming herself the ruler of Egypt.
6. Her well-known makeup wasn’t decorative
Maybe it’s hard to imagine Cleopatra’s appearance without her trademark – so-called “cat’s eyes”. Dye that she used as eyeliner comprised several components including lead. It was a way to protect her eyes against infection.
The point is that due to specific climatic conditions inherent in times of the annual flooding of the Nile in Egypt, an eye infection was a common occurrence. Lead compounds were supposed to protect the queen’s eyes against pathogenic bacteria.
Nevertheless, they could hardly be called useful (no one knew about the harm of lead in those days).
7. Cleopatra was a party goer
Both Queen Cleopatra and the Roman warlord Mark Antony were smart politicians, but that wasn’t the only thing they were good at.
Few people know that they didn’t deny themselves entertainment. The couple created some kind of wine club dedicated to the god of wine Dionysus.
The members of the brotherhood occasionally got together, had fun and, of course, paid their respect to Dionysus by consuming wine. Rumor has it that Antony and Cleopatra used to go outside, being tipsy, and prank on the ordinary dwellers of Alexandria.
It’s a good thing cameras, Twitter or Facebook didn’t exist at that time, so they could fool around with impunity. Not a single modern politician can afford to behave in this manner.
8. The queen manufactured perfume
Of course, Cleopatra studied alchemy, but she was also unbelievably well-versed in real chemistry.
She believed that perfume doesn’t just emit a pleasant scent. The femme fatale thought that it was possible to manipulate people with the help of a correctly selected fragrance. It was rumored that preparing for a meeting with Mark Anthony, Queen Cleopatra ordered to soak the sails of her ship in perfume so that the commander first sense her scent, and then see the queen’s face.
In any case, she had a perfume factory that she often visited in order to produce particular aroma.
9. She probably died not because of a snakebite
All of you remember that heart-breaking scene from a movie where Cleopatra, unwilling to fall into the hands of the Dr Octavian, commanded to bring her a live snake, after which she let it bite her.
Nevertheless, historians agreed that Cleopatra’s life ended differently, and the queen killed herself voluntarily. Most likely, she just drank a bottle of poison. By the way, the woman was quite well-versed in poisons as well.
10. Donkeys’ milk baths
Everyone has heard of the Egyptian queen’s milk baths. Queen Cleopatra did take care of herself and tried to eliminate the aging process with all her might. Back then when botox and plastic surgery didn’t exist yet, it was not so easy to stay young.
A legend says that to fill the queen’s bath with milk, servants had to milk 700 donkeys. It’s not everyone who that method of rejuvenation was affordable for.
But at that time donkeys’ milk considered a wellness and youth elixir – it allowed to retain the whiteness of skin and even skin tone and protected it against the emergence of wrinkles.
Some say that the Emperor Nero’s wife travelled only with a huge herd of donkeys to be sure that she would be able to take a healing bath at any time.
11. A statue of her stood in the middle of a Roman church for two hundred years
In those days divorce wasn’t an option, so Roman women had to put up with their husbands’ infidelity. We can only imagine what humiliation Julius Caesar’s wife Calpurnia went through, knowing that Caesar and Cleopatra had an affair, and they weren’t even going to hide it.
And what is more, the Emperor had a gold-plated statue of the Egyptian queen built in one of Roman temples. And the naughty part was that it stood next to the sculpture of the Goddess of Love.
The statue stood in the sanctuary for more than 200 years, and it wasn’t removed even after Cleopatra had fallen into the category of scandalous women and been declared the enemy of Rome.
12. Queen Cleopatra and Mark Anthony may have had surviving descendants
We have no confirmation that the queen and Mark Anthony have descendants, but some sources claim that one of their kids made it to adulthood, after which he was killed. However, he got a chance to marry and his wife gave birth to a child.
Of course, now it’s almost impossible to make sense of their family tree. And even if we could find the descendant, it would be impossible to run DNA and verify the presence of kinship without the queen’s body.
The only one who publicly declared her kinship with Queen Cleopatra was a Syrian queen Zenobia. By behaving like woman warriors, she invaded and deployed her troops in Egypt. But historians assume that Zenobia just tried to convince everyone that she had a claim to the throne.
By the way, some say that the queen of Egypt and Mark Anthony were buried at the same place in order to stay together in the afterlife.