The name Cleopatra paints in our minds a picture of a powerful seductress who mesmerized menfolk in the ancient times. Queen Cleopatra has remained an enigma for us for 2083 years. It was in 30 BC that this powerful queen of Egypt left this world by taking her own life at the tomb in Alexandria.
Cleopatra was a name that shook many a dynasties. She was Egypt’s last pharaoh, a woman who was adept at using science and led a whole fleet of her naval force in the battle of Actium. A magical figure of antiquity, Cleopatra will always be remembered as one of the world’s most mysterious rulers of all times. Here is a list of 15 things that you should know about this enigmatic Queen of the Nile.
1. Cleopatra was not beautiful unlike her projection in movies
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This one fact must be told for it will clear many fabled ideas we all have for this enigmatic queen. Cleopatra wasn’t as beautiful as she was presented in many Hollywood movies. If you always thought that she looked like Elizabeth Taylor from the 1963 movie ‘Cleopatra’, you will be disheartened big time! The Queen of the Nile, in fact was quite an ugly duckling!
Unlike her projection as a gorgeous looking temptress whose every curve oozed raw sexual appeal, the real queen was quite a non looker. She tempted men with her intellectual prowess and her mastery over numerous things. For example, Cleopatra was a great orator and knew several languages. She was an educated woman who knew of fields like philosophy, science and astronomy.
Many statues and sculptures of this queen show her as a woman who was rather masculine in look. With a hooked nose and a stocky built, Cleopatra couldn’t have mystified men with her physical appearance. It was her charming persona that made people fall in love with her.
2. Cleopatra was a Greek and not Egyptian
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Though Cleopatra was the queen of Egypt and was born in the land of the Nile, she was not Egyptian in origin. She had a royal Greek lineage and traced her origins to Ptolemy I Soter. Ptolemy I Soter was one of the generals in the army of Alexander the Great. After Alexander died in 323 BC, Soter became Egypt’s ruler and thereafter expanded his family.
Cleopatra embraced Greek traditions and cultures while at the same time took towards adopting an Egyptian way of life. The queen was the first in her family to learn the Egyptian language.
3. Cleopatra had her siblings murdered
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There are many untold facts related to Cleopatra history, one of them being that the temptress was rather a murderous woman who committed the killings of her own siblings to gain power to the throne. The race to conquer the throne was common to all the members of the Ptolemaic dynasty and Cleopatra too was not left behind.
Cleopatra was so infused with the lust to gain possession of the throne of Egypt that she, along with Julius Caesar, plotted the murder of her first brother cum husband – Ptolemy XIII. She teamed with Caesar and in the battle murdered her husband by drowning him in Nile. After this episode, she married her younger brother Ptolemy XIV and again murdered him so that her son would rule Egypt. This didn’t stop our seductress queen from committing any more killings as she once again plotted to murder her sister Arsinoe.
4. Cleopatra was born out of an incestuous relationship
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It doesn’t come as a surprise that Cleopatra was the result of the marriage between siblings, aka, an incestuous marriage. In ancient times, both Egyptians as well as Greek royal families often engaged in marriages between siblings. It was a common practice which had a reason behind it. Royalties did it to preserve their bloodline and to keep the throne in the family, much like the modern day Muslims who too are followers of same bloodline marriages. If you see the family tree of Cleopatra, you will notice that most members of the Ptolemaic clan engaged in marriages with brothers and sisters. So, our queen was no different than others, and got married to her two brothers in succession.
5. Cleopatra bathed in donkey milk
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Queen Cleopatra was not beautiful, but she was a seductress who knew how to take care of herself and her body. She was an alluring fabled queen who is rumored to have been the owner of a smooth and silken body that was the result of her bathing ritual she did every day. According to Hippocrates, Cleopatra bathed in donkey milk. She had the milk collected from 700 donkeys and added aromatic oils for fragrance. The milk of a donkey contains lactic acid, a strong agent that helps in exfoliating the skin and this gets it rid of dead cells. Cleopatra dipped in her pool of donkey milk and had it mixed with honey for a refreshing bath.