“I will not be triumphed over.’
It seems strange and almost unfitting that a woman who came to define independent strength, determination and power in an age commanded by men should be named after the Greek for ‘glory of the father.’ By the time of her sudden death in 30 BC, glory would be entirely hers. Centuries later, Cleopatra still beguiles us. Much has been written about the Pharoah’s beauty: Roman consul Cassius Dio would speak of ‘a woman of surpassing beauty’. In actuality, her ‘beauty’ is the greatest myth that defines her legacy. It also undermines her real power. Far from the Hollywood visions of Elizabeth Taylor and Angelina Jolie we celebrate today, Cleopatra did not strike Antony and Caesar to their knees with her good looks, but rather with her wit, charm and intellect. Cleopatra’s beauty morphs with our changing fashions but her fierce dynamism never alters.