This is Cleopatra VII. There have been many Egyptian queens who have used the name Cleopatra, but Cleopatra VII is the most famous because of her savvy political maneuvers, beauty, and romantic involvement with two of the most powerful men at that time, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. She was born in 69 B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt to King Ptolemy XII Auletes. Cleopatra VII’s mother identity is unknown, but it has been proven by Hikle Thuer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences that her mother was an African Woman, not Greek.
Ptolemy XII died in 51 B.C. leaving the kingdom to Cleopatra and her younger brother Ptolemy XIII. Egyptian law required that Cleopatra (18 at the time she ascended to the throne) to wed her younger brother Ptolemy XIII (who was 12 at the time) in order to be her consort and co-ruler of Egypt. Cleopatra took advantage of the age difference and removed Ptolemy XII’s name from all administrative documents and placed her name and portrait on legal tender, dismissing Ptolemy’s XII’s claims as co-regent. Cleopatra ruled independently for three years, until Ptolemy XIII’s advisers’ (led by Pothinus) conspired against her. Pothinus and his co-conspirators dethroned Cleopatra in 48 B.C., forcing Cleopatra into exile in Syria with her younger sister Arisone IV. Cleopatra was not going to give up her throne without a fight and began gathering an army on Egypt’s border.
Cleopatra decided devised a plan to meet with Julius Caesar in order to form an alliance and and regain her throne. She arranged to have herself wrapped inside a rug, smuggled into Alexandria, and delivered to Caesar. Caesar opened the rug, Cleopatra rolled out, immediately impressing and charming Caesar. Cleopatra seduced Caesar and they immediately became lovers. Cleopatra then ensured her linkage to the Roman empire. Caesar returned Cleopatra to the throne and married her 11 year old brother, Ptolemy XIV. Shortly thereafter, she became pregnant with Caesar’s son Ptolemy XV (also called Caesarion or Little Caesar). Ceasar was stabbed to death in 44 B.C. at a senate gathering and Cleopatra fled back to Egypt.
Cleopatra met Mark Antony in 42 B.C. using her beauty and charms in the same way she snagged Caesar. Mark Antony was part of the triumvirate that was at the time controlling the Roman Empire. Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship quickly turned romantic, outraged by his extramarital affairs, the Roman Senate declared war on Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra found that their army was no match against the Romans, so they were defeated. In 30 B.C. distraught by the defeat, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide, Antony stabbed himself and Cleopatra had herself bitten by an Egyptian cobra, the asp. Cleopatra was thirty-nine years old at her death and buried beside Antony. Contrary to popular belief, Cleopatra committed suicide because she was sadden over her lost of control over Egypt, not the lost of Antony. Cleopatra was a staunch Egyptian (Kemetic) nationalist and a shrewd politician. After her death, Egypt became a Roman colony. She was the last Pharaoh.
“More nonsense has been written about Cleopatra than about any other African queen, mainly because it has been the desire of many writers to paint her white. She was not a white woman, she was not a Greek. Until the emergence of the doctrine of white superiority, Cleopatra was generally pictured as a distinctly African woman, dark in color. Shakespeare in the opening line of Antony and Cleopatra calls her “tawny.” In his day, mulattos were called “tawny Moors.” In the Book of Acts, Cleopatra describes herself as “Black.”– John Henrik Clarke
For centuries, Cleopatra’s race has been debated although it should not have been. Egyptologist Sally Ann Ashton created a computer generated 3D image believed to be the best likeness to date of the legendary Egyptian beauty. More than a year of extensive research pieced together from images on ancient Egyptian artifacts, including a 2,000 year old ring dating back to Cleopatra’s reign proves that she was an African Woman.
Pan-African Scholar J.A, Rogers in his book, “World’s Great Men Of Color, Vol 1 offer more evidence from various credible sources that Cleopatra was in fact an African Woman:
- Prior to the rise of White Supremacy, Cleopatra was generally pictured as colored. Shakespeare in the opening lines of Antony and Cleopatra calls her “tawny.” In Shakespeare’s day mulattos were called “Tawny-Moors.” Captain John Smith, Governor of Virginia and a contemporary of Shakespeare uses “tawny” as synonymous with “mulatto.” When writing about the ruler of Morocco, he says, “King Mully Hamlet was not black, as many suppose, but mulatto, or tawny, as many of his subjects (from True Travels, Vol. I, p. 45).
- In Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, Scene 5, Cleopatra calls herself “Black” made so by the sun (Phoebus).
- As late as the sixteenth century Cleopatra was regarded as a Negro Woman. C.W. King says, “The same age was a little later extremely fruitful in the heads of Negros and Negresses, the latter often in the character of Cleopatra holding to her breast the asp.” (Antique Gems and Rings, p. 326. London, 1872.)
- Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XIII was the illegitimate offspring of Ptolemy XI (Soter II). The legitimate line ended with Ptolemy XII. Those who say that Cleopatra was “pure” Greek evidently forgot this fact. Moreover her father Ptolemy XIII, shows pronounced Negro traits. As for Cleopatra, there is no bonafide portrait of her.
- The best factual account of Cleopatra is to be found in Plutarch’s Lives, “Antony.” Also see S. Rapoport’s, History of Egypt, Vol. I, pp. 280-365. 1904.
According to Karriem Shabazz of the Kentake Page:
Historically, Cleopatra will be remembered as a woman who seized any opportunity that was placed in front of her. She was a powerful woman who ignored her brother’s claim to rulership and the submissive role women were supposed to play in politics. Cleopatra used any means necessary to accomplish her goals and to protect her beloved state of Egypt. Although her use of seduction in regards to her relationships with Cesar and Antony have become legendary to mainstream society, one must not forget the social and political limitations she hurdled to maintain her position as Pharaoh of Egypt.
I salute this AMAZING HER-story making sista!
Karriem Shabazz. “Cleopatra”. (2013). Kentake Page. Retrieved from http://kentakepage.com/cleopatra/
Rogers, J. A. (1946). World’s Great Men of Color Vol. 1., 121- 130, Macmillan Publishing Co.