This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Cleopatra: A Sign Of The Times

3669 words - 15 pages

Cleopatra: A Sign of the Times

"For Rome, who had never condescended to fear any nation or people, did in her time fear two human beings; one was Hannibal, and the other was a woman" (Lefkowitz 126).


Cleopatra VII, the last reigning queen of Egypt, has intrigued us for centuries. Her story is one that has been told many times, and the many different and vastly varied representations of her and her story are solely based on the ways in which men and society have perceived women and their role in society throughout history. By looking at the perceptions of women starting from the Hellenes, the Greeks who greatly influenced Roman ideals, and following those perceptions through to the end of the 19th Century, it is easy to see how Cleopatra has been used to represent the "good woman." In other words, she has been used as a role model for women, to show what was their acceptable role in society and to shape their actions and beliefs into an acceptable form. The earliest writers saw her as an evil temptress, as attitudes changed she became a victim and now in recent representations she is seen as "a feminist hero and a savvy politician" (Nilsen 1). Following this history, one can see how the story of Cleopatra is a story that has been told many times to fit each time period's own allegiances.

The negative image of Cleopatra that has presided throughout history can be traced back to 5th Century Athens and their perceptions of women. During this time period the Greeks pit their own bourgeoisie ideal of femininity against their counterparts in "barbaric societies" (Nyquist 89). This barbarism was also associated with Orientalisms and therefore Egypt was considered barbaric. The barbarians and the Greeks were considered to be complete opposites and this could be seen in many ways. The barbarians ruled with a system of "monarchy" or "tyranny" and the Greeks were run by a democracy (Nyquist 88). "They were assigned systematically with ethical or psychological traits; avarice, cruelty, lawlessness, hierarchalism, luxuriousness, effeminacy, unrestrained emotionalism" associated with the barbarians, and, "moderation, judiciousness, lawfulness, equality, simplicity, manliness and reason" associated with the Greeks (Nyquist 88). The Greeks constructed female rule as barbaric to stigmatize the "other," to keep the female in their place and, most of all, to propagate white male rule. The Romans during Cleopatra's reign adopted these ideas of barbarism from the Greeks, and the negative image of Cleopatra was encouraged by the clash in Roman and Egyptian culture. In Egypt there was less differences between the rights of males and females, and the ability for females to have control over their lives was seen as scandalous in Rome. The "Romans did not subscribe to the…concept of tryphe, which included the demonstration of power through the display of luxury" (Hammer 5). This rejection, in combination with female power, made it so that Cleopatra's...

Find Another Essay On Cleopatra: A Sign of the Times

A Sign Of Unity; Write About The Significance Of The Sign In The Short Story "Wing's Chips" By Mavis Gallant

871 words - 4 pages paint and tries to "help him". She insists that he is not focusing enough on certain features of her daughter. Given that he is not a portrait painter, he painted what he saw and what he believed to be significant. Madame Gravelle wants to show off her daughter, but he is going to paint her how he sees fit. When he is asked to paint a sign for the Wings' store, he puts aside his artistic difference by stating that a painter is a painter. They

A Look Into the Death of Queen Cleopatra

1566 words - 6 pages It has been over 2000 years since Cleopatra drew her last breath, ending the rule of the pharaohs in Egypt for good. In the years following her death, there have been many theories as to how she might have died. The most widely accepted theory is that she committed suicide by allowing herself to be bitten by a venomous snake and it is the theory that has been written in most history books as historical fact. Yet, there is increasing evidentiary

The Life of Cleopatra VII

781 words - 4 pages Alexander the Great. Alexander the Greats’ kingdom was eclipsed by the power of Rome. Alexander the Great ruled Egypt for nearly three centuries. Ptolemy XII (Reign 80-85 BC) was under a great deal of pressure from the Romans and struggled to hold onto Egypt’s power. “In 55 BC the supports of Romans, Ptolemy XII was put back on and took his 17 year old daughter, Cleopatra (XII) as his co-worker”( Jarus 1). After Ptolemy was exiled “Cleopatra

The Life and Times of a Friend

859 words - 4 pages What is the nature of a true friend? How do you determine what kind of friendship you have? According to Judith Viorst’s “Friends, Good Friends—and Such Good Friends,” there are at least three categories of friendships based on levels of intimacy. The friendship that requires the least amount of interaction is the Cross-generational friends. These friends are usually 10 or more years older than you, maybe a friend of your parents or an old

The Challenge of a Computer Representation of Sign Language: Capturing a “Visual-Spatial” Language Electronically

1598 words - 6 pages The Challenge of a Computer Representation of Sign Language: Capturing a “Visual-Spatial” Language Electronically Signed languages are not simply another means of communicating a spoken language. Individual signed languages are linguistically unique forms of communication, with their own grammatical constructs, word order, sensibility, and rules. American Sign Language, used in the United States and parts of Canada, is not the same as

A Comparison of Cleopatra and Heloise

1322 words - 5 pages unique to each text. In comparing and contrasting the parallel themes of the pieces, it is easy to see the overall themes of both works. Within the first page of Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra", the Roman's narrow perspective of Cleopatra is presented to the audience. Throughout the book she is referred to as "a whore" (, "wrangling queen" (I.i.50), and a "lustful gypsy" (I.i.10). The Roman image of Cleopatra is solely based on

The History of the Sign for Addition

1168 words - 5 pages The earliest history of plus sign (+) we can trace is Egyptian hieroglyphic. The sign for addition was represented as a pair of legs walking in the direction of the text, neither left nor right . Because Egyptian could be written either from right to left or left to right. In Italy, the symbol plus (+) were adopted by the astronomer Christopher Clavius. The first person who may have used the plus (+) sign as an abbreviation was the astronomer

The Development of American Sign Language

3160 words - 13 pages The development of American Sign Language in the United States dates back to as early as the 1600s. On Martha’s Vineyard there was a relatively large Deaf population due to genetics and heredity. This was thought to trace back to the first people of the land, who traveled from Massachusetts and carried this genetic deafness with them. Because there were so many people that were deaf living there, it was extremely common for all people, deaf and

The Cognitive Imperative of American Sign Languafe

1015 words - 5 pages The Cognitive Imperative of American Sign Language As a cultural group, Deaf Americans present a thriving and distinct example of language in action. Many of the traditions of Deaf culture—including storytelling, word games, etc.—are celebrations of American Sign Language (ASL). But contemporary Deaf Americans face myriad issues, including the preservation of sign language as it relates to the child’s upbringing and education in particular

The Things They Carried: Emotions Are Not A Sign Of Weakness

1037 words - 4 pages knowing then there is no possible way that the memory could continue to live. Therefore, it is the poet and writer’s duty to record the moments because they have a gift that can pass down the story for generations to generations. All of the characters in the book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien portray that emotions are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of a wise, knowledgeable, enduring person. From facing many difficulties man can become

The Life and Death of Cleopatra

1330 words - 6 pages , his throne became the focus to his first born daughter. Cleopatra Tryphaina, the King’s first born seized the Egyptian throne. A few followers of the King back in Egypt, killed the usurper (Nardo). King Auletes’ other daughter, Berenice, seized the throne next. To get the throne back required a large price for a Roman nobleman to seize it. By the time Auletes’ gained power again, he died, leaving the throne to his 17 year old daughter

Similar Essays

The Sign Of Four Essay

699 words - 3 pages The Sign Of Four In the beginning of the novel Dr. Watson says that he has seen Sherlock Holmes take cocaine three times a day for many months. Dr. Watson tells Holmes about the danger but Holmes disagrees and tells him that the drug relaxes and clears his mind. He uses cocaine due to no work. A lady named Mary Morstan comes to talk to Holmes for a case which she assures him is

The Power Of Cleopatra Essay

1466 words - 6 pages How did Cleopatra rise to and maintain her power? Not much is known about her life since she lived so long ago, but what is known is enough to piece together some of her life story. Cleopatra was a strong and intelligent woman who made it through all the struggle and strife of the ancient world until it became too much for her. Cleopatra’s reign began and ended with tragedy, but was maintained by exploited love connections. Cleopatra VII

The Reign Of Cleopatra Essay

1911 words - 8 pages , Cleopatra took her own life after another failed attempt to keep power. Cleopatra’s death is one of the most famous of all times. After Cleopatra’s arrangements of his funeral she and her children were taken hostage. Cleopatra was afraid of being humiliated. Cleopatra would not live this way, so she had an Asp an Egyptian cobra, which is a poisonous snake, which was brought to her hidden in a basket of figs. This was brought to her because she asked

The Life Of Cleopatra Essay

1577 words - 6 pages eldest of her two brothers Ptolemy XIII inherited the throne.In obedience with Egyptian tradition when Cleopatra was about seventeen years old she married her younger brother Ptolemy XIII, who became co-ruler, at the age of about twelve. But this was a marriage of convenience only, and Ptolemy was pharaoh only in name. For three years he remained in the background while Cleopatra ruled alone, it is said that despite the glamorous image she plays