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Queen, Goddess, Seductress — slut…..

Muriel-8

Photo by Timothy Stark

I picked up a couple of history books for my 7-year-old grandson Remy, who enjoys reading. I hope he will derive the same pleasure I do from history. The truth is, I’m probably more of a history ‘gossip’ than scholar. The titillating goings-on and/or horrendous happenings one reads about would be considered too far-fetched for any novel. And who could make up stuff like that?

Could Cleopatra have looked like this?

Could Cleopatra have looked like this?

One of the books I got for Remy is about Cleopatra, who has fascinated me for years. She was extremely clever, which helped her survive to adulthood. She was raised in a family which murdered each other when convenient. Her older sister, Berenice, was killed by her dad, the pharaoh, after she plotted against him. Cleopatra spoke multiple languages; was a beautiful young, ruthless woman. She became queen of Egypt; was considered a goddess by her people; and lets face it, the gal was a shameless hussy, seductress — and slut. At 18 she was married to her 10-year-old brother Ptolemy X111 (to keep things in the family). At 21, she was in danger because of her young brother/husband’s advisors, and fled to Syria.

Bust of Julius Caesar, Art History Museum, Vienna

Bust of Julius Caesar, Art History Museum, Vienna

While Caesar was staying at the palace in Alexandria, Cleopatra pulled a brilliant, impressive stunt. They say she had herself delivered to him wrapped in a blanket. She needed help from the aging Caesar. (The Roman armies had been helpful to her dad.) What to do? Tell him her problems — in bed of course! Caesar was impressed with her chutzpah, her youth and her beauty. The 52 year-old was smitten. She, meanwhile, used whatever ‘charms’ she possessed to obtain the guy’s support. (Could she have possibly learned them from her 10-year-old brother/hubby?) In any case, she got what she wanted. Caesar was only a man after all. His soldiers defeated her enemies while the two of them played at love. Happily for Cleopatra, the pharaoh, her young brother/husband, was drowned in the battle. Things looked better.

Statue of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

Statue of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

She married another brother, Ptolemy X1V. (All the boys in their family were named Ptolemy — no confusion at the dinner table.) Caesar was madly in love with her and with his army’s support, the ambitious girl could accomplish whatever. When she had Caesar’s child, she named him Ptolemy Caesar after his illustrious father. The little one became known as Caesarion.

Caesar, of course, already had a wife in Rome, but no matter. Cleopatra was a goddess, right? She didn’t have to fret about such things as we mere mortals do. With Caesar now back in Rome, she decided to go there with their child and her teenaged husband/brother, whom she didn’t trust enough to leave behind. As you can imagine, Caesar’s wife didn’t appreciate her visit, but Cleopatra had no concerns about losing her reputation. She had a grand time of it as a guest in Caesar’s lavish villa. Trouble was brewing, however, and while Cleopatra was busy entertaining the creme de la creme of Roman society, Caesar was murdered. If I were his wife I may have been tempted to do it myself.

Not one to mope, Cleopatra fled back to Alexandria for safety. Cleopatra had concerns about her current brother/husband’s thirst for power — it must have been genetic. Surprise, surprise! Mysteriously, upon their return home the poor guy suddenly died of poisoning. Cleopatra wasted no time in having her two-year-old son, Caesarion, crowned pharaoh — which left the little lady in charge for years to come. Meanwhile a power struggle was taking place in Rome between Brutus and

Marc Antony

Marc Antony

Cassius on one side, who had plotted Caesar’s murder, and on the other, Antony and Octavian. Cleopatra was asked to provide armies to help both sides. What to do? Picking the wrong one could be disastrous. Not wanting to choose the wrong side, she promised to support them both. I told you she was clever.

Antony’s army was victorious. He was angry she hadn’t kept her promise, and he was now a powerful guy. She needed him. What to do? Get him to bed, of course! She visited him in Tarsus in her royal barge, dressed as Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty. She played all her cards — flattered him, seduced him, and promised him wonders — and delivered. Antony, too, was only human.

Well, Antony also had a wife, Fulvia, in Rome, who advised him that Octavian was trying to take over while Antony was playing house with the sexy Cleopatra — for whom a wife was never a deterrent. He had to return to Rome to fight his former partner-in-arms while Cleopatra gave birth to their twins. In Rome, Antony became a widower and married Octavian’s sister, Octavia. He had made peace with his rival. However, he missed Cleopatra, who must have had something most of us never possessed, and he returned to her. Did he really divorce Octavia? Was it a poor diplomatic move? Meanwhile the lovers had yet another child and before long, Octavian, now Antony’s brother-in-law, declared war against Cleopatra. The lovers fought back but lost. Cleopatra lost her empire.

The story of the dramatic and romantic end to the tragic story is heart-wrenching but I wonder how much of it is really true. It is said Cleopatra died with the help of a poisonous snake, Antony is to have stabbed himself. I tend to think if she gave up it was because she knew she was doomed and not because she believed Antony to have died as they say….

Besides, as a mother, I can’t help but wonder why she didn’t consider the four children she left behind. Guess they meant less to her than her empire. What say you?

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Favorite sayings

Muriel2017

by my Chandra

It takes a village — to do a crossword. (my own)

If there is a heaven, there are bubble baths there. (my own)

The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things other people think of us. (Quentin Crisp, 1908-1999, openly gay writer, actor.)

Quentin Crisp

Quintin Crisp

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends. (Oscar Wilde)

young Oscar Wilde

Young Oscar Wilde

Some cause happiness where ‘er they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, gay poet, playwright.)

Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe. (? told me by my friend Sandy)

The greatest delusion about communication is that it exists. (?)

How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on.  (Zall)

The road of modern culture leads from humanitarianism via nationalism to bestiality. (Stefan Zweig, Austrian Jewish author, 1881-1942, committed suicide.)

Many amusing events occur in Egypt, but the laughter there can resemble crying. (great 10th century poet Al-Mutanabbi)

Go ahead, travel first class. Your heirs will. (Sign on a local travel agent’s wall)

I no longer have the time to be angry. (My wise friend Berta)

Everyone has a photographic memory — some of us just don’t have any film. (Steven Wright, comedian)

Creativity is our most precious gift. (my friend Ian Wallace)

Parents are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth. (actor Peter Ustinov)

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. (Native American Proverb)

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. (Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher)

Jan Struther

Jan Struther

If silence is golden, then speech is platinum. It spreads wisdom, dispels ignorance, ventilates grievances, stimulates curiosity, lightens the spirits and lessens the fundamental loneliness of the soul. (Jan Struther, 1901-1953, author)

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun,. Enjoy the trip. (?)

You don’t have to believe everything you think. (?)

What your mother tells you now, in time you will come to know. (?)

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. (Bertrand Russell)

Burtrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

The time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time. (Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, controversial philosopher/mathematician/Nobel Prize winner for literature)

Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who will get the blame. (Bertrand Russell)

Thank you to all those who have passed on quotes I treasure. If you happen to know who wrote those I haven’t found the author of, please let me know. Enjoy!

From Susan Kauffmann: The obstacle is the path. (Zen Proverb)

From Bill Keuntje: I’ve learned not to play the notes with emotion, but to play the emotion with the notes. (Bill is a composer/musician)