Who’s Buried in Cleopatra’s Tomb?

Posted on April 24th, 2009 by

Read all about it here.

Cleopatra died more than 2,000 years ago, at the age of 39. Before she was a slot machine, a video game, a cigarette, a condom, a caricature, a cliché or a synonym for Elizabeth Taylor, before she was reincarnated by Shakespeare, Dryden or Shaw, she was a nonfictional Egyptian queen. She ruled for 21 years, mostly alone, which is to say that she was essentially a female king, an incongruity that elicits the kind of double take once reserved for men in drag.

From her point of view there was nothing irregular about the arrangement. Cleopatra arguably had more powerful female role models than any other woman in history. They were not so much paragons of virtue as shrewd political operators….Cleopatra’s great-grandmother waged one civil war against her parents, another against her children. These women were raised to rule.

Cleopatra has gone down in history as a wanton seductress. She is the original bad girl, the Monica Lewinsky of the ancient world. And all because she turns up at one of the most dangerous intersections in history, that of women and power.

Granting that the double standard has outlived Cleopatra by at least 2,000 years, what are we doing today on that Egyptian hill, under the ruins of the temple of Taposiris Magna? “This could be the most important discovery of the 21st century,” says Egypt’s antiquities director, Zahi Hawass, of the dig. Certainly it would be a relief to cross Cleopatra off our list of objects we have lost, or believe we have lost: Atlantis, Jamestown, an entire tribe of Israel, good manners, Jimmy Hoffa.

If we find Cleopatra’s tomb — and certainly we will find something relevant, as Dr. Hawass seems determined to make a discovery to rival the 1922 one of King Tut — we may well be able to solve the mystery of Cleopatra’s death.



  1. W Fields says:

    Double standard? Try being a modern dad attempting to gain custody of his young children after mom has disengaged from the family. You’ll see that indeed there is a double standard but in the other direction. When teachers risk jobs, coaches risk standing in the community and neighbors speak up 100% on the side of the children & father, one would expect a judge to take notice. Especially when all involved admit that the father has been the only parent available and that he is fully capable of caring for his children without putting them at risk. Alas, the status of “mom” is impossible to impeach, no matter her behavior or attitude. Court ruled in favor of her, handed her a tax-free 14 year cash flow and destroyed the dad. Within a month of the ink drying, mom turns the little ones back over to dad full-time, keeps the cash and to this day maintains control over the children.

    Now the children are 12, choose to make it legal that they live with dad. What do the attorneys say? “You have no chance in this state”.

    So continue to feel sorry for Cleo for fighting the double standard. Just remember, where it counts most, it is a woman’s domain, even two millenia on.

    • yurie says:

      It’s certainly true that there are double standards that unfairly discriminate against men. And like all double standards these, too, are unacceptable. This does not, however, negate the historical fact that there are a vast number of situations in which women have received the short end of the stick. Equality is about fair and just treatment for everyone (male *and* female) whether in the realm of government, labor, the home, etc.