Though they weren’t Egyptian themselves the Ptolemies (who were of Greek descent) had considered themselves pharaohs for decades. Cleopatra’s family’s empire was once as great as history paints Ancient Egypt to be, but when it was time for Cleopatra and her little brother to adopt the Ptolemaic Empire, the kingdom was already falling apart. Civil wars raged throughout Egypt while Roman power continued to grow and expand which left Cleopatra to come up with a plan to keep Rome on her side. And, her initial plan was a glorious success. As Julius Caesar battled her brother’s army for her right to the Egyptian throne, Cleopatra stood valiantly by his side—while bearing his child.
As a ruler, Cleopatra was well educated and used her knowledge to her full advantage while she governed all aspects of Egyptian life: from the military to the economy, from the law to religion. She regarded herself as a god and emulated the Egyptian goddess Isis—as demonstrated by her achievement of keeping her empire revolt-free for the first time in over 150 years.
After Caesar’s death, the civil wars between Marc Antony and Octavian raged on in the Roman Empire. Again, Cleopatra knew she had to find another ally in the Roman leaders. As we discuss...
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... history barely knows how she looked. There are only the coins minted during her reign that illustrate what she may have looked like—but even those were approved by Cleopatra herself so who knows how warped they may be. Additionally, learning that she was indeed Greek and not Egyptian was a huge shock—I’d always thought the non-Egyptian portrayals of Cleopatra in modern media were whitewashed and racist when in reality she wasn’t even of African decent.
A woman born royal but left only the remnants of a once-great empire, Cleopatra didn’t allow anyone or anything to stand in her way of being inarguably one of the strongest queens of the ancient world. She kept her people safe, happy, and healthy. She kept her land calm and protected. She even slept with a few men! Cleopatra is, in my opinion, a great example of true self-empowerment and should be recorded as such.
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