Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cleopatra: Beauty or Brains?

This is a video for a new Open University course in the UK, "The Arts Past and Present"

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1 comment:

geoffhudson.blogspot.com said...

I don’t believe in the history about Cleopatra, Anthony, Augustus and Herod, as received in the writings attributed to Josephus. Herod had every reason to hate Cleopatra, and a reason to despise to despise Anthony. Cleopatra had persuaded Anthony to give her some of Herod’s real estate, quite valuable too. She had her eye on Herod’s lands.

Secondly, while the battle of Actium was going-on, Cleopatra is supposed to have persuaded Anthony to send Herod’s army against the Arabians. She is supposed to have seen this would weaken either army, to her advantage, regardless of who won. But there could have been no guarantee that this would have been the case. If Herod had won, I don’t see him being weakened.

Thirdly, Anthony is supposed to have said that Herod’s army was not needed in support during the battle of Actium. Somehow, I think that Anthony would have found Herod’s army quite useful. I suggest that Herod’s battle against Arabians was fictitious. Wiley character that he was, he either waited to see which way the battle would go, and militarily supported the eventual winner, Augustus. Or, he plotted with Augustus to undermine Anthony and Cleopatra. One way or the other, this would explain why Augustus rewarded Herod. The Flavian editors simply hated the idea of a Jewish army helping a Roman emperor to win a war.