She was the wealthiest woman of the known world in her day, Queen of Egypt by the age of 21, and ruler of an empire that stretched in a V pattern from eastern Libya south to Thebes and then north through Israel and Syria, to southern Turkey. Her city of Alexandria was considered to be the jewel of the Nile. Scholars used the legendary library as the well-to-do class basked in the resort like atmosphere poised next to the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. As a young girl Cleopatra had been educated in both the arts and sciences, and schooled to understand the need for displaying opulence to dazzle the senses. She was tenth generation in the Ptolemy dynasty and taught to be both shrewd and manipulative, in order to survive. Marrying twice (each time to a brother), she chose however, to have children only with her two lovers, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Ruthless in her perusal of power, she murdered each of her three siblings in order to retain her position, but was also a brilliant strategist and mastermind in cultivating allies. Fluent in eight languages; nine if you count the language of charm, Cleopatra was adept in military knowledge and possessed an acute understanding of how to keep her empire free from foreign invaders, as well as feeding her subjects during the great famines that besieged Egypt.
So why did I choose a ruthless, conniving murderer, and adulterer for my first blog? I chose her because born into an era where Egyptian women had far more freedoms that women in other cultures, Cleopatra strived to keep her country free from foreign invaders who would have destroyed those freedoms. She may have been forced to marry her own brothers, but she chose her lovers for herself and remained faithful to each one. Possessing an education that entitled her to have far reaching knowledge, she chose to use that knowledge to ensure that her country and her world would endure. History has portrayed her simply as a beautiful conniving woman; I say that she used her attributes in order to retain power in a world where ruthlessness was the norm. Committing suicide after the death of Marc Antony, she died at the age of 39, but left a legacy that endures. I find her a fascinating woman. A well researched book on her life is Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff, available at http://www.Amazon.com.