SSI1 106

Cleopatra: History and Myth

Who was Cleopatra? To the Romans, she was the foreign queen who tried to steal their empire and who represented the most dangerous threat to their civilization in 200 years; to the Egyptians she was a goddess incarnate, the universal mother, and a liberator who came to free them from oppression. But equally fascinating has been the reception of Cleopatra's image: to Chaucer she was the model of a good wife; to Shakespeare she was a tragic lover; to painters of the Renaissance she was a passive victim; to the Romantics she was a femme fatale; to post-Enlightenment colonialists she was an exotic Easterner; to Hollywood she has been a temptress, a sex-kitten, and a vamp. This course examines both the facts known about Egypt's most famous queen, and how and why she has been re-interpreted over the centuries to suit the social, racial, and gender needs of different cultures. Affiliate department: Classics.