Cleopatra VII was a remarkably intelligent woman with great charisma and political astuteness. The ancient historian, Plutarch, stated that “to know her was to be touched with an irresistible charm. Her delightful manner of speaking was such as to win the heart. ” (Bradford 14). She utilized these assets to win over the favor of two of the most powerful man of Ancient Rome, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Cleopatra is portrayed as being manipulative, conniving; and accused of utilizing her relationships for the advancement for power and the expansion of her empire.
Although this is true, there were stark differences in the two relationships Cleopatra had with each man. She reached out to Caesar in her time of no power and continued to be submissive to him throughout their relationship. Even though there was a speculated love connection between the two, Caesar never lost sight of his priority as a politician and did not concede to every one of his mistresses’ requests.
While a reversal of roles occurred with Marc Antony, she had the upper hand and he eventually became fiscally and emotionally dependent on her. In addition, he was easily manipulated, thus Cleopatra frequently got her way. Overall, the territorial gain and the power she had over him proved that Cleopatra’s relationship with Marc Antony was more politically beneficial than with Julius Caesar. Firstly, Cleopatra’s submissiveness and political dependency on Julius Caesar proved to be less beneficial in contrast to her relationship Marc Antony.
In 48BC, she was a young 22 year old trying to regain her Ptolemaic throne from her brother, she knew he was the most powerful in the world and understood that that the Roman Consul was the only one who could aid her. Bradford noted that Cleopatra realized the “only one weapon that her brother, back by his powerful advisers, did not have [was]-her sex. ” (70) The speculation that she was sneakily presented to him rolled up in a carpet displayed her submissiveness to his authority and beckoning for his help in regaining her throne.
Caesar managed to initially appease Cleopatra’s desire for power by reading her father’s will and forcing her brother, Ptolemy XIII, and herself to rule together. Later he gained managed to gain more power for her by commanding her to “marry” her younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, for she would hold all of the power due to his age. This pretense was set up in order to make her complacent but still remained a superior force with his diplomatic choice. By having both the siblings rule he abided to Egyptian law and did not panic the people and cause them to rebel.
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