Reading Response 6: A Greco-Roman Lens Cleopatra VII is like the most famous Queen of Egypt in all of ancient history – and she’s not even Egyptian! Cleopatra was the last in a long line of Ptolemies

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Reading Response 6: A Gr


ec


o-Roman Lens

Cleopatra VII is like the most famous Queen of Egypt in all of ancient history – and she’s not even Egyptian! Cleopatra was the last in a long line of Ptolemies, a Greek family, that portrayed themselves as pharaohs and ruled from Egypt proper. During the 1st century BCE, however, the Mediter

ranean was

in turmoil and Rome

was rapidly exp

anding its

power ac


r


oss the


Mediterran

ean. Egypt, and Cleopatra, couldn’t help but be caught up in the hurricane that was the burgeoning Roman Empire.

Because of the mixing of cultures during this time, the

sources we hav

e about the life of Cleopatra mainly come from Greek and Roman writers, rather than Cleopatra herself. In this module, I want you to think about the the reliability and biases of different types of sou

rces.


W


e have very few

sources from Egypt written by Cleopatra herself (amazingly, h

owe


v


er, we do have h

er signature!).

W

e also get a 1st-hand account from a Roman source – Julius C

aesar – who was w

riting an autobiograph

y as he traveled th

roughout the Medit

erranean slaugh

tering people by the

thousand.

Finally, we have in-depth references to Cleopatra’s life in a biography by a Greco-Roman historian writing 200 years after her death.

For this assignment, I want you to do two things. First, I want you to spend 150+ words describing what we can learn about Cleopatra from each of the three sets of sources (Egyptian,

Caes

ar, and Plutarch). Second, I want you to write 150+ words on the reliability and

biases of


these three set

s of sources. Which is the ‘best’ source and why? Do you trust C

aesar’s source


more because he was th

ere first hand? Or might he have had his own biases? Plutarch was writing centuries after her death; is he a reliable source? Consider which type of source is most useful for

recon

structing a history of Cleo

patra.

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