BEING CLEOPATRA: Cleopatra's Daddy Issues by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cleopatra's Daddy Issues by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Everyone's parents are embarrassing when you're kid. But Cleopatra's dad? Totally cringeworthy.

See, her dad played the flute. All the time. In place of ruling. So people called him Ptolemy the Piper, and not in a good way, either. Turns out choosing to play a wind-instrument over taking charge of your kingdom doesn't inspire confidence. Imagine that.

And then, to add to the embarrassment, Daddy sold out to the Romans. He borrowed so much money from a Roman loan-shark--squeezing his people dry to pay off the interest--it was a wonder the entire economy didn't collapse. Rome then took some of Egypt's territories (because they could) and Daddy did nothing to stop them. His people were furious and let him know it with riots in the streets.

At one point, Daddy Piper took a little trip to Rome, taking 11-year old Cleopatra with him. He needed more support (*cough* money) from Rome, you see. So the king of Egypt swallowed his dignity and trolled for cash up and down the Tiber.

Everybody, including his own daughter, Berenice, was furious. So, in typical Ptolemy fashion, Berenice poisoned an older sister and took the throne. Daddy was sucking up to the Romans, after all, right? It was time for new leadership!

Only one problem. Daddy Piper wasn't ready to give up his throne. He convinced yet another rich Roman to "loan" him a Roman army. Yup, Cleopatra's dad used a Roman army to invade his own kingdom. Then he had his daughter Berenice killed as a traitor. He quickly resumed squeezing his people dry with even more ridiculous taxes in order to pay off even more Romans.

Young Cleopatra, a "nose" for sniffing out political strategies designed to fix what her forefathers broke. Young Cleopatra VII somehow kept Daddy's favor and he named her queen when she was 17. She inherited his great big Roman mess when he died a year later, leaving her to rule with her pre-pubscent little brother.

Is it any wonder then, that Cleopatra evolved a strategy of pairing off with Rome (via unions with leading Romans Julius Caesar and later, Marc Antony) rather than continuing the unhealthy, economy-sapping strategies that her father and grandfathers promoted? She was smart enough to know things had to change.

And change they did.

How? You'll have to find out by reading my book, Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen.

(Yup, I did. I went there. Did it work? Are you going to read it now?)

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