"Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered."
— Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life
Confession time folks!
I, Tiffany Rankin am obsessed with all things Ancient—in particular Ancient Egypt. If I want to go all mystical (and I will) I feel that in another life I was Egyptian.
Yes—I know it sounds crazy. I’m saying this because of the recent looks when I said this thing, but I feel like it is true.
It really started for me on a weekly visit to my family’s favorite Chinese restaurant. Standing in line it was customary for the hostess to hand out fortune cookies to the little ones. I was around 6 or 7. Cracking it open against my mom’s wishes I read my fortune.
“Someday you will go to Egypt.”
I was super excited. Up to this point my association with Egypt was Scooby Doo specials and the annual showing of the “Ten Commandments” around Easter.
I liked the clothes—I love color and sparkle. I also loved the pageantry.
Anyway, I grew up and delved deeper in this passion for history and in that time discovered Cleopatra. Not the Cleopatra of the movies, but the woman that was a lover of her people, could speak 10 languages and was an excellent politician.
She outwitted attempt after attempton her life. Which came mainly from her family and formed alliances with powerful men like Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Despite assumptions she was not a classical beauty, but it’s told her voice and her wit enticed the most hardened man. So powerful was her clear allure when Cleopatra attempted to save her life by the man who conquered her kingdom, Octavian refused out of fear he too would fall under her spell.
Oh, and she did not die at the side of her lover Marc Antony. He had taken his life a month before after she sent a false letter she had ended her life.
No, instead refusing being paraded in golden chains through the muddy streets of Rome she ended her reign by poison.
She was the last of the Ptolemaic line and the last pharaoh of her beloved Egypt.
I have read her story countless times and I find new things about her every time. Till this day I wonder the what-ifs.
What if she had never aligned herself with Caesar, then Antony?
What if she protected her kingdom on her own merits?
What if she never bore children to these two men?
What if she complied to the wishes of the Roman Empire?
My answer time and time again cries out with a resounding statement, “She would have lived!”
But then would we have remembered her?
My answer is, probably not...
And I believe for a true-blooded Egyptian this would be death.
Adding thin layers of diluted acrylic ink.
Leaning in close.