Sunday, February 19, 2012

The mystery of beauty

Cleopatra was queen of Egypt about 2,000 years ago. She was intelligent, proud, strong-willed, and she was determined to keep her country free from invaders. When Egypt’s army was defeated by the Romans, Cleopatra decided she would rather die than be taken captive. According to legend, she held a poisonous snake to her body. The snake bit her, and she died.

Cleopatra was the daughter of the pharaoh (ruler) of Egypt. In 51 bc, when Cleopatra was 17 or 18, her father died. Cleopatra and her 12-year-old brother became the rulers of Egypt. Three years later, her brother declared that he should be the only ruler. He forced Cleopatra to leave Egypt.

Cleopatra started putting together an army to fight her brother. But before war began, Roman general Julius Caesar arrived in Egypt. Cleopatra decided to ask Caesar for help. But how was she going to get back into Egypt, past her brother’s guards? She came up with a clever plan. Her servants rolled her into a carpet, and delivered it as a gift to Caesar. When the carpet was unrolled, out stepped Cleopatra.

Cleopatra’s plan succeeded. Caesar helped Cleopatra defeat her brother. She was again Egypt’s queen. 

Caesar fell in love with Cleopatra. When Caesar returned to Rome, Cleopatra visited him there. Caesar promised that the Roman army would not invade Egypt. Then in 44 bc, Caesar was murdered, and Cleopatra returned to Egypt.

After her return, Cleopatra ruled Egypt without interference for several years. In 41 bc, however, Roman general Mark Antony demanded that Cleopatra meet with him. 

Cleopatra was in a difficult situation. She knew that the powerful Roman army could invade Egypt at any time. Cleopatra agreed to meet with Antony, but surprised him by arriving on a magnificent ship, seated on her royal throne. Antony, too, fell in love with the proud queen.
In 35 bc, Antony married Cleopatra and they lived in Egypt. The next year, they announced that they were the rulers of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. This included Egypt and most of the Middle East.

The Roman rulers were angered by this. Roman general Octavian declared war on Antony and Cleopatra. In 31 bc, Octavian won the war and took over Egypt. Both Antony and Cleopatra killed themselves.

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