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Where was Cleopatra from?

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Hello everyone. I heard in a biography that Cleopatra was not Egyptian. I also read or hear somewhere that she was massidonian. Does that mean she was Greek or what? Also, how did her family come to power?

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She was of a, in origin, Macedonian family, the Ptolemaic's. They arrived as rulers of Egypt after Alexander the greats death 323 BC. He had no heir and his generals basically had a free for all, therefor the empire was split into a number of succession kingdoms. Ptolemaeus Egyptian one was one of the success full ones.

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Macedonian is not Greek but the people are generally thought to be related. Such distinctions are a source of endless confrontation between modern Macedonians and Greeks, especially as it relates to Alexander. At least it is generally agreeable that the Ptolemies were definately part of the broader Hellenized world.

 

Likewise, many groups lay claim to Cleopatra's heritage, from the afore-mentioned Greeks and Macedonians to sub-saharan Africans, Berbers, Egyptians and even Arabs (though they had not yet arrived in Egypt). The most sensible explanation is that she was a large part Macedonian due to a presumed lineage with the Macedonian successors of Alexander; but the lineage cannot be traced definitively. There is therefore some potential for the inclusion of various local "nobility" into her geneology in the 250 or so years between Alexander and her birth.

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This is an passage from Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar.......

 

 

"The colour of her hair and complexion are unknown. There is a tradition in some circles that she was black, but there is not a shred of evidence to support this. The Ptolemies were Macedonians, although there was some Greek and, through marriages to Seleucids, also a little Persian blood in their recorded family line. We do not know the identity of Cleopatra's grandmother. There is also a little doubt over her mother, although most accept that it was Auletes full sister, which would then increase the significance of the grandmother even further. The accepted conjecture is that the later was a concubine, which makes it possible that she was not of Macedonian stock, but perhaps an Egyptian or from even further afield. Therefore it is not absolutely impossible that there was some more specifically African blood in Cleopatra, but there is no actual evidence to support this. Equally, it is not absolutely impossible that she was a blonde, since some Macedonians had fair hair (which is again rather a subjective term), but equally none of our sources claim this. This uncertainty will continue to allow different people to imagine very different Cleopatra's."

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She was Macedonian but it is not unlikely she had some Egyptian blood in her in some way. Her love for Egypt was can't be denied though, whether she was ethnically Macedonian or Egyptian she always considered herself an Egyptian.

 

Until of course she had that run-in with the snake. :thumbsup:

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I am not sure whether this is true or not, however I heard that Cleopatra was the first of the Ptolemaic dynasty to learn the vernacular spoken in Egypt at the time, opposed to using Macedonian Greek exclusively. Is that true? If so, it would certainly back up Rameses statement that she considered herself more Egyptian than Macedonian.

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This is an passage from Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar.......

 

 

"The colour of her hair and complexion are unknown. There is a tradition in some circles that she was black, but there is not a shred of evidence to support this. The Ptolemies were Macedonians, although there was some Greek and, through marriages to Seleucids, also a little Persian blood in their recorded family line. We do not know the identity of Cleopatra's grandmother. There is also a little doubt over her mother, although most accept that it was Auletes full sister, which would then increase the significance of the grandmother even further. The accepted conjecture is that the later was a concubine, which makes it possible that she was not of Macedonian stock, but perhaps an Egyptian or from even further afield. Therefore it is not absolutely impossible that there was some more specifically African blood in Cleopatra, but there is no actual evidence to support this. Equally, it is not absolutely impossible that she was a blonde, since some Macedonians had fair hair (which is again rather a subjective term), but equally none of our sources claim this. This uncertainty will continue to allow different people to imagine very different Cleopatra's."

 

What a great book, written by a great author.

 

Antiochus the Great

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The "tradition" that she was black is so contemptibly stupid it hardly merits comment. I doubt its taken seriously at all in sober academic circles. I have also examined the so called evidence for this contention and for the other one that the Pharaohs were mostly black and none of it is convincing at all. I really hit the roof when I see some circles twisting and misrepresenting historical data to further their own agenda. I hope this nasty habit is finally laid to rest but seeing the level of historical knowledge among the general public I must say I don't feel very sanguine about this.

Edited by Gladius Hispaniensis

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The "tradition" that she was black is so contemptibly stupid it hardly merits comment. I doubt its taken seriously at all in sober academic circles. I have also examined the so called evidence for this contention and for the other one that the Pharaohs were mostly black and none of it is convincing at all. I really hit the roof when I see some circles twisting and misrepresenting historical data to further their own agenda. I hope this nasty habit is finally laid to rest but seeing the level of historical among the general public I must say I don't feel very sanguine about this.

 

It's all part of the "Black Athena" theory which claim that the original Egyptians were black and the Greeks stole their culture and hence all of their achievements were actually belong to the Egyptians. I believe this theory became popular in some American universities among the African study professors.

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There was a documentary on Hannibal a year or two back that I was involved in. Apparently the producers received a number of complaints that Hannibal was not shown as a black man. There appears to be a conception in some parts that African = Black, which was not invariably the case in antiquity and is not invariably the case now. With Cleopatra, whilst I hate to argue by omission (especially given the size of the gaps in our knowledge), were Cleopatra's colouring different from the general line of Ptolomies I suspect someone would have said so. The lady aroused strong feelings in the 30s BC, and Plutarch, among others, gives us a detailed description. Cleo's handmaiden, just after Cleo died, made a pointed reference to her Ptolomaic heritage. Finally, we have several busts and coin samples which might at a stretch allow Semitic features, but that's about all.

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The "tradition" that she was black is so contemptibly stupid it hardly merits comment.

 

The credulity of those who would believe that Cleopatra was black could be amusingly put to the test, by showing them a picture of Scipio Africanus:

 

Scipio_Africanus_the_Elder.png

 

Nah, perhaps the name of "Africanus" wouldn't fool them, after all.

 

-- Nephele

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Well, I'm convinced. Can't argue with photographic evidence.

 

And don't forget Nero. He certainly was black. I mean, really, how explicit can you get?

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Well, I'm convinced. Can't argue with photographic evidence.

 

And don't forget Nero. He certainly was black. I mean, really, how explicit can you get?

 

Speaking of Nero, he wasn't the only one who fancied himself a singer/entertainer.

 

That picture above of Scipio Africanus is perhaps the only evidence we have of Scipio's self-indulgent penchant for entertaining his bored legionaries by producing and appearing in ancient Roman minstrel shows.

 

-- Nephele

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Nah, perhaps the name of "Africanus" wouldn't fool them, after all.

You never know. Now we have an interesting scenario - two black men, Hannibal Barca and Scipio Africanus, fighting each other on their native soil, Africa. The plot thickens. :thumbsup:

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