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Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is derived from the story of Cleopatra and Marc Antony.
After being defeated at the Battle of Actium on September 2, 31 BC, by Augustus Caesar (Also known as Octavius) and his formidable general, Marcus Agrippa, Cleopatra and Marc Antony fled to their home in Alexandria, the heart and soul of Cleopatra's vast and wealthy empire. It took some months before Octavius came for them. Several small battles were fought in the interim. Finally, as his army pressed upon them, Marc Antony tried and failed in one last battle. He heard news that Cleopatra was dead. Some say he heard that she was making arrangements to join Octavius. He fell upon his sword...the Roman' version of dying with courage. He was brought to Cleopatra's tomb, where she lay sealed, in waiting with all of Egypt's treasure. Her plan was to burn it to the ground if Octavius refused her son the right to rule Egypt.
Marc Antony was brought to her, bleeding to death. She had him hoisted through a window in the upper reaches of the tomb. He died in her arms. As she suffered the anguish of his loss, one of Octavius' soldiers was lifted through that same window. He captured her...dagger in hand. Within the next couple of weeks, Cleopatra conceded to join Octavius in Rome, provided that he allow her to properly bury Marc Antony in her tomb. She began an elaborate funeral ritual...with prayer, food and treasure offerings to accompany him in the afterlife. Amongst those goodies was a seemingly innocent basket of figs. Unbeknown to Octavius' soldiers, two Asps had been smuggled inside that fig basket and awaited their particular moment in history. The Asp is a small snake from the Cobra family. It is said that Cleopatra tested the venom of many poisons and poisonous snakes to see which caused the least pain. The victim of an asp bite becomes sleepy and euphoric, as they quietly pass into the underworld. Much to Octavius' dismay, two marks were discovered on the arm of a dead Cleopatra; the most exquisite of queens.
Cleopatra's patron goddess was Isis and thus during and for hundreds of years after her reign it was believed that she was the re-incarnation and embodiment of the goddess of wisdom. Cult tombs were found throughout Egypt and abroad, in honor of Cleopatra.
Cleopatra's life is one of the most romantic stories ever told. Besides being the lover and wife of the two most powerful men in the world's history, she nurtured a country from its knees to become the wealthiest of its time. A great lover of education, Cleopatra's Alexandria was the world's intellectual epicenter. Most people don't realize that Cleopatra had not a drop of Egyptian blood, but was of Greek/Macedonian decent. In addition to her native Greek tongue, she spoke 8 languages, wrote numerous books ranging from perfumery to medical treaties. She was an astute politician, businesswoman and I would imagine a ravishing lover.