Did Cleopatra Really Die by Snake Bite?

Did Cleopatra Really Die by Snake Bite?

Cleopatra’s death seems to have taken place as dramatically as the life she lived.

After the Egyptian Queen and her longtime lover, Roman General Mark Antony, saw their combined forces decimated during the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, they withdrew in the uncertain future to Alexandria. Months later, with Octave’s Roman army at the gates of the city, a desperate Antoine fell on his sword.

Faced with the prospect of losing her kingdom, Cleopatra committed suicide on August 10, 30 BC, allowing a poisonous snake to bite her and her two maidservants.

Where did she do it?

Image vs reality

The solid historical evidence relating to Cleopatra’s death, as with much of her biography, is thin. Those who compiled the most complete accounts of his life, notably the Roman writer Plutarch, lived generations after his death. Poets, playwrights and filmmakers then drew on these sources to make Cleopatra an almost mythical figure, defined largely by his powers of seduction and his relationships with two Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

These fictionalized accounts of her life and her untimely disappearance created the popular image of Cleopatra as a beautiful protagonist condemned in one of the most famous romantic dramas in history. Behind this image, however, there was a the real queen, who, regardless of her appearance, was certainly a formidable leader – and one of the most powerful members of a Greek dynasty that ruled Egypt for more than three centuries.

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