The history of the ancient world is replete with stories about omnipotent women. Take Nefertiti, the Egyptian queen of the 18th Dynasty, who established a new religion and launched the Cultural Revolution as the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Also, as an example, you can take Zenobia, the queen of Palmyra of the 3rd century, who conquered Egypt and challenged the Roman Empire.
But perhaps the most legendary of them all is Cleopatra. The last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, she used her political tact and personal connections to become the only woman in the ancient world who could rule alone.
Yet, more than 2,000 years after Cleopatra's death, the popular narrative of her life remains markedly one-dimensional. For many, she is a femme fatale who seduced two Roman statesmen and allegedly committed suicide with an asp bite.
But regardless of whether Cleopatra was a beauty, we know that in the ancient world it was not her appearance that made her so formidable, but how she skillfully manipulated her public image in order to strengthen her power.
To this day, the identity of Cleopatra remains the subject of controversy. Historical opinions about her legacy are divided. Most argue that she has Macedonian Greek roots (she was a descendant of the Macedonian general Ptolemy), while others suggest at least partial African descent.
But regardless of her racial background, Cleopatra considered herself an Egyptian queen and was the first of the Greek-speaking line of Ptolemies to learn the Egyptian language. Intelligent, competent and charismatic, she was loved so much that, three centuries after her death, she was still worshiped in Egypt.
However, given the long reign of Cleopatra, it becomes clear that it is not only about her charisma. In ancient Egypt, foreign and family claims to the crown were a constant threat, and Cleopatra was able to resist both, forging ties with the most powerful Romans of the period. In 49 BC. She fled to Syria to raise an army after she was expelled from Egypt by the advisers of Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII.
Some time after her return to Egypt in an attempt to claim the throne, Cleopatra managed to secure a personal audience with Julius Caesar, who came to Alexandria to settle the dispute.
In 41 BC. she traveled to Tarsus, in what is now Turkey, at the invitation of Antony, dressed as Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, in a golden boat adorned with purple sails and silver oars. It looks like a creative scenario that an event agency in Kiev can come up with and implement. The dramatic skill paid off and the monarch fell in love. This allowed Cleopatra to consolidate her power on the throne and preserve the independence of Egypt.