Egyptian archaeologists defend Cleopatra's beauty
Egypt, History, 5/14/2001
It seems that a group of British archaeologists are convinced that Cleopatra VII, one of the most beautiful queens of Egypt as she was known for her ravishing beauty, was actually ugly, fat and short.
They believe in these claims due to a coin dating back to her reign, which has an ugly picture of her. They also believe that the Egyptian painter drew Cleopatra in a shape totally different from her reality.
However, Egyptian archaeologists refuse these claims and assert that Cleopatra was charming, eloquent and intelligent.
This hot debate arises on the occasion of an exhibition of antiques related to Cleopatra's reign held presently at the British Museum.
The British official in charge of the exhibition Mrs. Suzan Walker says: "Cleopatra's beauty is an unsubstantiated legend." The British Sunday Times published with Mrs. Walker's interview an imaginary picture of Cleopatra showing her short; 150CM tall fat and has ugly teeth.
The exhibition has two main statues for Cleopatra VII, which are considered rarity since Octavius, the first Roman ruler of Egypt after Cleopatra, ordered that all her engravings and statues to be destroyed. Those who were left are the result of the efforts of a rich Alexandrian who gave a bribe to the ruler to keep them as they are.
Meanwhile, some Egyptian academicians share the same viewpoint of the British archaeologists. Dr. Gihan Zaki, Lecturer in Ptolemaic History in Helwan University, asserts that Cleopatra was not beautiful since her seduction of Mark Anthony was not based on her beauty but rather on her shrewdness and cunning.
On the other hand, Dr. Azza Shihata, Lecturer in Sociology in Ain Shams University, thinks that the whole matter needs reconsideration because the concept of beauty is ever changing and none can be sure of how beautiful was Cleopatra.
Cleopatra VII is the seventh queen to hold this name in the Ptolemaic history of Egypt, which started, with the invasion of Alexander the Great to Egypt in 332 BC and the rule of the military leader Ptolemy and his offspring.
Ptolemaic rule continued till 30 BC when Egypt was invaded by the Romans who turned it from an independent Kingdom to a Roman state. Cleopatra was the last Ptolemaic ruler and reigned from 51 to 30 BC.
Cleopatra used her beauty to protect Egypt from the Roman threats and overwhelming desire to occupy Egypt. Greek travelers and historians such as Plutarch assert that Cleopatra's beauty was unequaled.
On the other hand, the Egyptian historian, the late Dr. Fouad Nos'hi, stresses that Cleopatra looked like Macedonian queens and princesses as she has great pride, will power and thirst for power.
Meanwhile, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Director of the Antiquities Department of Giza and Saqara, refuted all the claims that accuse Cleopatra of being ugly.
Dr. Hawass asserts that the proof of Cleopatra's beauty lies in the famous scene portraying her and her son Caesereon on one of the walls of a temple in Dandra in southern Egypt.
Meanwhile, there are two statues for her in the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria and San Jose Museum in the United States. Besides, many coins were discovered in the Valley of the Golden Mummies bearing her picture. All these things prove the ravishing beauty of Cleopatra.
On the other hand, Dr. Abd El-Halim Nour El-Dein, Professor of Egyptian Civilization at Cairo University, believes that this fierce attack on Cleopatra is considered an attack on her national role in resisting the Roman invasion by the only weapon she has which is her beauty and charm. Such an attack underestimates as well the honor and love reflected by all Egyptians towards her.
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