Here is a guest post from my wonderful year 9 class.
Ambitious queen? Extravagant flirt? Inspirational role-model? Treacherous temptress? Tragic Hero?
Cleopatra, one of the most powerful women in Roman history, was a controversial figure in her own time, and after more than 2000 years her true character remains an enigma. Last term an elite team of historical researchers (the year nine Latin class) spent a week delving into the mysterious past of Egypt’s most famous queen to see what we could discover. As part of our research we examined:
- original Latin and Greek sources, such as Plutarch, Horace, Cassius Dio and Lucan
- coins, pictures and statues from Cleopatra’s own time
- the theories of modern day historians
After much investigation and lengthy debate, we decided that whatever else Cleopatra might have been, even after 2000 years she remains a memorable example of female leadership. She was powerful, ambitious and knew how to make the most of her abilities. She was fiercely intelligent and was able to manipulate two of the most powerful Roman men at that time – Julius Caesar and Marc Antony – to get what she wanted. She was also terribly proud, and is said to have committed suicide rather than face humiliation at the hands of the Romans.
However our class was divided as to whether Cleopatra is a good role model for the well-rounded young women of today. Some admired her drive and determination to achieve her goals. Others felt that the means she used to obtain power were dishonest, and that in manipulating those around her she sacrificed her integrity. We also found that Cleopatra shares many qualities with modern day celebrities such as Nikki Webster, Princess Mary, Paris Hilton, Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Queen Elizabeth II.
To investigate the mystery of Cleopatra further, click here