When we talk about eternal love fairs, few couples that come in to our mind is Anthony –Cleopatra, Rama – Seetha and Saliya – Ashokamala , a local couples others being Egypt and Indian accordingly. Eventhough personally I don’t believe in eternal love, when I recently watched a Stage Drama of Antony – Cleopatra , I developed an interest to find out about this infinite love.
Cleopatra is considered to be the most beautiful female in the world ever had. Even up to now the beauty of a female is benchmarked with Cleopatra, eventhough we have not seen her beauty. She was the last Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Cleopatra was born in 69 BC in Alexandria and was so educated that she was fluent in 7 languages. She was a member of the Macedonian Greek Royalty that ruled Egypt for over three decade. At the age of 18 she attended to the Throne while getting married to her own brother who was 10 years old.
There is no historical evidence to confirm marriage between own brothers and sisters. But according to chronicles she married her younger brother Ptolemy X111 with who she supposed to jointly rule the country. Since Cleopatra was not prepared to share the power, her husband challenged her intention and he was found dead after some time. It can be easily opined that she had hands in his murder since Cleopatra murdered 3 of her own siblings. Due to her fear of accusation of these murders she started to court Roman Empire.
At the last stage of Julius Caesar life she started a love afire with him and bore a child named Caesarion. After the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC , she began an afire with Mark Anthony , the Empire of Roman. Antony was in opposition of the Julius Caesar’s legal heir Octavian. Mark Antony was born in 83 BC in to a family of ancient lineage and high distinction. He no doughty would have led a predominantly political and military life. He led marriage life with five. Their love story had started over 10 years earlier when both were in their prime. Cleopatra was the divine Ptolemaic Ruler of prosperous Egypt.
Antony who was hailing from Hercules was a Politician and Soldier who was a favorite of Caesar. In the wake of Caesar’s assassination, Antony formed an uneasy Triumvirate in 43 BC with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Caesar’s nephew Octavian to rule the sprawling Roman Republic. Antony was put in charge of the Empire’s rowdy Eastern territories.
He had first met Cleopatra in Rome when she had been the young mistress of his mentor Caesar. When he saw her , he lost his head to her like a young man.
Though it appears that their attraction was genuine, it was also politically savvy “and…thought to harmonize well with the matters at hand.” As Schiff notes, Antony needed Cleopatra to fund his military endeavors in the East and Cleopatra needed him for protection, to expand her power, and assert the rights of her son Caesarion, Caesar’s true heir.
Antony soon followed Cleopatra to Alexandria, which was experiencing an artistic, cultural and scholarly renaissance under their Queen. The two powerful rulers often behaved like college students, forming a drinking society that they called the Society of the Inimitable Livers. “The members entertained one another daily in turn, with an extravagance of expenditure beyond measure or belief, a Scholar Plutach explained.
When Antony went back to Rome in 40 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to their twins, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. That same year Antony married Octavian’s sister Octavia. Since their newly wedded life seemed to be joyful, Antony did not meet Cleopatra for three and a half years. According to the history the lovers reunited in Antioch, the capital of Syria in 37 BC.
For the next two years, the couple would often travel together, as Antony’s military and administrative exploits took them all over the Mediterranean. It was during this period that Antony’s military prowess began to falter, causing him to lose thousands of men. Of course, instead of the blame being placed on Antony’s rash, bull-headed decisions, Plutach would blame the failures on Cleopatra.
In an intentional provocation to Octavian, Antony distributed lands to his and Cleopatra’s children, making it abundantly clear that their family was the dynasty of the East.
For Octavian, this was a bridge too far. In 33 BC, the Triumvirate disbanded. The next year, Antony divorced Octavia. All pretenses of partnership and friendship between the two men were over. Shortly after the divorce, Octavian declared war on Antony’s true partner – Cleopatra.
Cleopatra was secretly negotiating with Octavian, unbeknownst to Antony. Cleopatra no doubt saw that Antony was doomed. She had sent a message to Antony that she had killed herself, knowing very well that he would soon follow the same. According to Plutarch, when Antony was told of Cleopatra’s suicide, he uttered “ O Cleopatra, I am not distressed to have lost you, for I shall straightaway join you; but I am grieved that a commander as great as I should be found to be inferior to a woman in courage”.
After his attempted suicide, a distraught Cleopatra got Antony brought to her. Understanding the gravity of what she did, she was heartbroken. After Antony breathed his last, Cleopatra fought on, attempting to negotiate with Octavian. Then Cleopatra realized that there is no option but to follow Antony.
When Octavian realized what had happened, he sent soldiers to bust into the residence of Cleopatra where they found Cleopatra dead along with her 2 attendants, Charmion and Iras, also dead. According to history, either she got a venomous snake known as Asp to bite her and the attendants to follow or partook a cocktail contained position.
With Cleopatra’s death, Egypt became a part of the Roman Empire. Caesarion, the son of Cleopatra bore to Julius Caesar was murdered, while her other children , Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene and Ptolemy Philadelphus were brought to Rome to be adopted by Octavia. Her victorious brother erased all traces of the once glorious couple, but he did make one concession. Honoring her last request, he had Cleopatra and Antony buried side by side.
I am concluding my Article leaving the opinion to you whether Cleopatra killed herself as a sacrifice towards love or being unable to face the situation aroused with the suicide of her partner Antony.
Lanka Newsweek © 2021