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How Did Cleopatra Look Like? The Persistent Enigma of the Queen’s True Appearance

Cleopatra VII, Thea Philopator, also known as Cleopatra, was the famous Egyptian queen who was Julius Caesar’s lover and later became Mark Antony’s wife. After her father died, she took the throne and shared it with two of her brothers and her son. After Octavian’s Roman armies beat both of them, Antony and Cleopatra killed themselves, leaving Egypt under Roman control.

In every way, Cleopatra was a queen. She significantly impacted Roman politics at a critical time and stood for it like no other woman in ancient times. She was the perfect example of a romantic “woman who kills.”

History talks a lot about how pretty and tempting the queen looked. She has also been shown on the big screen as a beautiful woman who charmed the Roman leaders. But historians do not know much about the queen’s appearance.

What Did Cleopatra look Like?

Only ten good-but-not-mint-condition coins from the time of Cleopatra have been found. These coins are important because they show the faces of many monarchs in great detail. Even though not much is known about Cleopatra’s looks, it is thought that she was stunningly beautiful.

During her life, she had relationships with the two most powerful Romans, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, and used her beauty to win them over. When Julius Caesar came to Egypt in 48 B.C., he is said to have met the queen spectacularly. Cleopatra was fighting with her brother over who should be in charge at that time.

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She saw a chance and wrapped herself in a carpet so she could sneak into his room. After that, she fell out and asked for his help. Cleopatra had such a strong effect on Caesar that he agreed to help her. Cleopatra also had Caesarion, who was his son.

Caesar was killed in 44 BC, which was a sad thing. After that, she turned her attention to Mark Antony.

Cleopatra’s looks as per Greek and Roman historians

Many Roman historians say that Cleopatra was a beautiful woman. It might sound nice now, but it was not the best way to describe someone in the past. Cassius Dio says that when Cleopatra met Caesar, it was “beautiful to look at and listen to, and it had the power to control everyone, even a man who had had enough love and was past his prime.”

He also says that Caesar is “completely captivated” by the royal when he meets him for the first time. Dio says that Cleopatra is the most beautiful woman in the world. Plutarch, another historian, gives a more complicated picture of what the royal people looked like.

The Greek writer talked about Cleopatra’s meeting with Mark Antony and said that she was going to see Antony at a time when women were at their most beautiful and thoughtful times. But he also said that her natural face was not as attractive.

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“For her beauty, we are told, was not incomparable and did not strike those who saw her, but talking to her had an irresistible charm, and her presence, combined with the persuasiveness of her speech and the way she treated others, had something stimulating about it.”

He went on to say, “Her voice was also sweet, and her tongue was like an instrument with many strings. She could quickly switch to any language she wanted.”

The Romans did not like or trust Cleopatra, even though she was beautiful. It is because she was a strong woman from another country. A few writers and poets wrote about the times when people did not like Cleopatra. Horace, a poet from the first century, called her “a crazy queen who wanted to destroy the Capitol and bring down the Roman Empire.”

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During her time, many powerful men thought of her as a lousy prostitute who could trick powerful men if they were not careful. This sexist portrayal also took attention away from her many other strengths, like being able to speak many languages, being good at being a politician, and so on.

Maybe the Roman men could not stand the idea of a woman running an empire, so they tried to make her look bad in every way they could. Many people say Cleopatra was the most seductive woman ever lived. But this picture could be the propaganda that the Roman Emperor Octavian pushed and spread. He wanted to show that Antony, his rival, had been tricked by a femme fatale from another country.