Ancient Egypt
The Mystery of Cleopatra's Death
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"Beautiful Festival of the Valley"
The Mystery of Cleopatra's Death
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Myth or fact? Did Cleopatra really commit suicide?

     The books tell us how Cleopatra supposedly died. They say that she committed suicide by placing a poisonous snake on her body and let it kill her. In Alexandria, there are no memories left of Cleopatra's life. All of the monuments and palaces remain at the bottom of the sea in pieces. So now we must ask: did Cleopatra really kill herself? If not, then how did she really die? To find out, we must start by studying her past.
     Egypt's final queen lived and died in Alexandria. She was born in 69 B.C. and was a descendant of a long line of Masedonian Greek royalty. Her family ruled Egypt for over three centuries. As a child, Cleopatra had an excellent education and spoke 7 languages. At nurseries she learned about the other realities of royal life. She lived with her mother, father, brother and sister. Being a spoiled child, she realised that she could get anything she wanted. There was no history of suicide in her family, but there was a history of murder. Cleopatra stopped at nothing to get her own way, so does she really seem like the type of person who would just give up?
     At age 18, Cleopatra inherited the throne of Egypt and married her 10-year-old brother. When he challenged her power, he was soon discovered dead. There was a similar fate for her other siblings. After her siblings' deaths, she feared that she too would be murdered, so she courted the power of the Roman Empire. She was Julius Caesar's lover and gave birth to his son. After Caesar's sudden death, she seduced his friend Mark Antony.


Now, let's try to figure out if it was possible for Cleopatra to have died from a snake bite...

Architects were able to figure out approximately where her moseleum and other buildings would have been located at the time. Cleopatra's moseleum was very close to a palace where Octavian was lodged (only several hundred meters apart). The story is that Cleopatra was inside her moseleum when she wrote out a suicide note for her guard to deliver to Octavian. The guard delived the note to Octavian. Then she was poisoned by the snake and died. There are many reasons why this can not be true. For one, it would have taken the guard only a few minutes to walk from the moseleum to the palace with the suicide note, and then back to the moseleum. Also, the poisoning would have taken a couple of hours to kill Cleopatra! The chances of her dying from the snake bite were very slim. Usually only 50% of poisoning (venum) is injected into a victim by a snake. So, this couldn't possibly be how Cleopatra died.

     In the Temple of Fil, there is a carving of Isis surrounded by a snake. This carving has a connection to Cleopatra. She was believed to be the living reincarnation of Isis, and that her destiny was intwined with the serpent.


     One person who could have killed Cleopatra is Octavian. His plan was to gain sole power. He controlled the western Roman Empire and Mark Antony controlled the east. Octavian then decided to declare war, using Cleopatra as a pawn. He thought his idea was brilliant, for he was trying to capture Cleopatra. It is said that he wanted to capture her alive so that he could humiliate her. After defeating Cleopatra, he became the first emperor of a new era and he changed his name to Augustus. Since he wrote his own memoirs, Augustus might have been stretching the truth or even lying about some of the events that occured. Augustus then saw Cleopatra's son, Cizarian, as a threat to Rome. Days before Augustus arrived in Alexandria, Cleopatra sent her 14-year-old son to Ethiopia. Eventually he was hunted down and killed.
     A new theory is that Augustus sent his guards to kill Cleopatra after killing her son. Augustus hoped that by having sole control of the Roman Empire, he would be remembered by people long after his death. Ironically, Cleopatra is the one who is remembered...not Augustus.

Myth or fact?
Cleopatra did not die from a snake bite