Cleopatra, Antony and Caesar
The Greatest Love Story of all Time
Hollywood's portrayal of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, differs from the historical record, of course. Yet the real Cleopatra was even more fascinating than in the movies.
Born in Alexandria in 69 BC, she may not have been particularly beautiful. Her portrait on coins of the time shows her with a hooked nose and manly features, though her voice was said to be alluring, and she was obviously of high intelligence and ability. She was not actually of Egyptian blood, but of Macedonian, descended from one of Alexander the Greatšs generals who had come to Egypt in the 300s BC and established himself as King Ptolomy I.
She came to the throne as Cleopatra VII in 51 BC, at the age of 17 or 18. Exiled three years later in a palace coup, she regained her throne with Julius Caesaršs help. He called for her to appear before him, but knowing that plotters would kill her on the way, she had herself rolled up in an oriental carpet and carried into the palace secretly. Servants unrolled the carpet before Caesar, and Cleopatra fell out at his feet.
The Roman general was captivated by the vivacious, independent-minded young queen with the beautiful voice and fiery eyes. Caesar restored Cleopatra to her throne and they embarked on a two-month-long cruise up the Nile. Their son Caesarion was born shortly thereafter.
Cleopatra visited Rome in 46 BC, was received in triumph, and moved into Caesar's villa even though Caesar was already married. Caesar's imperial ambitions and his indiscreet extramarital affair with Cleopatra turned powerful senators against him, and he was murdered on the steps of the Senate in March of 44 BC.
Cleopatra fled to Egypt, but was called to Tarsus (on present-day Turkey's southern coast) by Mark Antony, one of the new rulers of Rome, to account for her actions. She arrived, dressed as Venus, goddess of Love, aboard a sumptuous "barge" sailed by a crew of female servants dressed as sea nymphs. The ship had a gilded stern, silver-tipped oars, and purple sails. Antony was bewitched! He told her dirty jokes and she told better ones right back. Whatever he wanted to do, she would do with him, proving herself his equal. When she returned to Egypt, Antony went with her to spend the winter in Egypt's pleasant climate rather than rainy Rome.
Not long after Antony returned to Rome, Cleopatra gave birth to twins. In Rome Antony married his co-emperor Octavian's sister and started a family, but four years later he was back in Alexandria, unable to live without Cleopatra. He married her in 36 BC, and never went back to Rome. Rome had had enough! Octavian invaded Alexandria in 30 BC.
On the verge of battle, Antony's fleet went over to the Roman side, and soon also did his cavalry. Antony fled to Alexandria and, thinking Cleopatra dead, stabbed himself. On learning she was still alive he had himself carried to her, and died in her arms. Octavian captured the Egyptian queen and set guards on her to make sure she did not commit suicide. He wanted to parade her through Rome triumphantly in chains. But she arranged for a servant to smuggle in an asp (a poisonous snake) in a basket of figs. She ate the figs, and wrote Octavian a letter asking that she be buried with Antony.
Octavian, sensing what this meant, alerted her guards to an attempt at suicide, but it was too late. Queen Cleopatra VII was dead at the age of 39. She was buried with Antony, leaving behind her a love story the world will never forget.
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The four-deck, 72.3-meter (237-foot)-long Radamis II operated by the Swiss Mövenpick hospitality experts has 80 luxurious staterooms (including six suites), swimming pool, gourmet restaurant, three bars, nightly music and dancing in the lounge/discotheque, onboard boutique,