Cleopatra: The Natural Nemesis Of Rome

2698 words - 11 pages

Cleopatra: The Natural Nemesis of Rome

Abstract

Cleopatra is most often remembered as the lover of two Roman consuls, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, thereby forever connecting the Egyptian queen to the history of Rome. The stories of her relationships with the two men do not always paint a flattering picture of Cleopatra, as her reported promiscuity and presumption give her a colorful reputation. Cleopatra is also sometimes seen as a misunderstood woman, someone who was never given a fair opportunity to be accepted as the wife of Marc Antony nor the mother of Caesar's child. Some historians and authors use the issue of Cleopatra's race as a reason that she was ostracized from Roman society, saying that the Romans were prejudiced against Egyptians, and despite Cleopatra's Greek background, would never accept her as a suitable mate for a Roman consul. This theory, however, is far outweighed by the numerous justifications the Roman people had for their distaste of Cleoaptra. It is not surprising that Cleopatra never found acceptance in Rome, as she offered nothing to the relationship between Egypt and Rome, she stood for everything they were against, and little by little, she succeeded in destroying parts of the society that the Roman people had worked to build.

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Cleopatra and the province of Egypt are not accepted by the Romans because the relationship between the two city-states is not equal, as Rome does not benefit from a partnership between the two, although Egypt expects to be treated as a people of equal power and prestige. While it is true that Egypt is a country with great wealth and fertile land, thus able to give to Rome ample amounts of gold and grain, these are not reasons enough to make Rome tolerant of Egypt's ambitions. The ancestors of Cleopatra have already worked up an outstanding debt to Rome, and therefore the great wealth of Egypt should rightfully be Roman riches. If Egypt had been held accountable for the debt, the Romans would have no use for a friendly relationship with Cleopatra simply for the benefit of Egyptian riches. Cleopatra does, at times, appear generous and helpful to the dire monetary situation in Rome, as the ABC film, "Cleopatra", shows the queen giving gold to Marc Antony in order to pay and feed his army. This situation would succeed in supporting Egypt's claim to being needed by Rome, if the movie and many other works did not forget that this gold should have been Rome's from the start. Once Caesar removes her brother Ptolemy, and places Cleopatra on the throne of Egypt, and simultaneously their affair begins, the debt to Rome is never spoken of again. This vindication is a justified reason for the Roman people to feel vengeful toward Cleopatra and Egypt. Had Cleopatra not secured the affections of Caesar, the relationship between the two city-states would have been much different, and Egypt would never have been in a position to benefit from the power of Rome.

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