Canal March

The myth of Cleopatra, beyond history

Rosa María Cid

"The character of Cleopatra has little to do with reality, as we perceive it in the present and as it has been perceived throughout history," said Professor of Ancient History Rosa Maria Cid at the beginning of this conference. The use of Cleopatra as a feminine and oriental myth is analysed first on the basis of the pictorial images and literary representations made of her by Roman poets and historians—directly influenced by Augustus' propaganda discourse—and later by European writers and painters and Hollywood films. In these portraits, the image of a passionate, sinful and ambitious woman shifted the focus to the historical and political relevance of the last queen of Egypt. In this review of the cultural stories about Cleopatra, including the literary ones by Chaucer (The Legend of Good Women, c. 1362–1400) and Shakespeare (Anthony and Cleopatra, 1607) and the film one by Mankiewicz (Cleopatra, 1963), the values and prejudices of each period are revealed: the fear of the West over the East are personified tin Cleopatra, as well as the fear of female power.

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