Ancient Rome and Cleopatra Essay

Submitted By ZukosInferno
Words: 1975
Pages: 8

Part 1: Cleopatra; Original version with comments:

Choose one of the modern representations of Cleopatra from film or TV presented in the module materials. How far is this consistent with the Roman depictions of her in Book1, Chapter 1?

Cleopatra is a well-known historical figure whose image has constantly evolved throughout history. This is a clear general opening to your answer, Ashley. When we imagine Cleopatra our attention is usually diverted to Fear (2008) refers to the 1963 portrayal of her by Elizabeth Taylor as ‘the strongest image’ of Cleopatra (p.3). Elizabeth Taylor was a vision of beauty and perfection used to pacify the Egyptian (?) populous at the of her time. In no way was she an accurate visual depiction of the ancient queen, but instead a glamorous Hollywood star. While Hollywood depicted Cleopatra as being beautiful, the Roman's depicted her in a negative manormanner , as Winston Churchill famously stated, “History is written by the victors” (Hastings, 2004).(Hastings. 2004) This is quite a focused start, Ashley. I’ve suggested a reference to Fear and a few changes to language. Aim to express your ideas as concisely as possible.

Regardless of her image being deliberately beautified for 1960's Hollywood culture, her disposition was for the most part, accurately portrayed. Elizabeth Taylor represented her as a fierce, confident, intelligent and manipulative authority figure, traits that Cleopatra herself was said to possess. This sentence is less relevant as the question doesn’t ask you to evaluate the accuracy of the dvd version, but to compare it to the Roman depictions. Visually Elizabeth Taylor was an attractive white European, her features and complexion were considered desirable at the time of the film's creation due to public opinion and political beliefs,; adorned with golden Egyptian themed attire and eccentric make-up, Elizabeth Taylor was made to seem like a perfect representation of an ethnic Egyptian Queen. Because of this, Cleopatra's image was one of public contentment and not historical accuracy. Politics and events of the time affected the creation of the movie, being that contemporary issues were incorporated into the characters, For example; “One world, one nation, one people living on earth in peace”, is a direct quote from Martin Luther King. In the movie this quote was spoken directly from Cleopatra herself, showing that current events of the 1960's effected the way she was presented by Elizabeth Taylor. Each era has moulded her image based on current societal normalities (DVD Video) (Cleopatra, 2008) and this will continue to occur as society develops, creating a caricature of how the Roman's physically depicted Cleopatra. You make some good use of the dvd material here, Ashley, to explain Taylor’s representation of Cleopatra. You could use further brief quotations from the dvd to illustrate how she is portrayed; for example, the ‘array of fabulous outfits’ and the ‘exotic Egyptian entourage’. You do need to address the question, though, of how far these representations match what the Roman writers tell us.
You introduce the Roman depiction at the end of this paragraph. If you choose to re-write this answer aim to focus more on how Cleopatra is depicted in Readings 1.1 and 1.2.

The Romans’ depiction of Cleopatra and Egypt was simply propaganda instigated by Octavian to discredit Cleopatra and promote his war. This is very clearly expressed. The Romans believed they alone were heirs to the intellectual culture of Greece, and because Cleopatra was a Hellenistic monarch (Greek origins), Octavian deliberately devalued her as a foreign enslaver of men to justify his war against a queen who should have been revered in his own culture. He portrayed her as a monstrous figure who was not only alien to his people, but to her own as well. In Roman culture woman were not highly regarded, as they were thought of as deformed men. In Cassius Dio’s version of Octavian’s speech Octavian