I Pit Historians who cannot LEARN from history


People can tell in our house when someone is watching what purports to be an educational channel

Rome: Power and Glory.

I pit thee, Shelly Halley, purportedly an expert in history. “Cleopatra was female, beautiful and african, and therefore embodied everything threatening to Rome” [paraphrase]

What part of Ptolomain Dynasty means “African”? What part of non-photographic art/nonrealistic art means we know exactly what she looks like? I will grant that in general Romans were wary about powerful females, despite many powerful women behind thrones, they weren’t really allowed to be on the throne.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty were descendants of an immediate nature of a general named Ptolemy who invaded in Alexander’s army. He was a ‘greekling’ fergoshsakes, NOT african. [OK, fine, Macedonian. harumph]

Cleopatra:enduring icon Even comes out and says that we do NOT know…and it only mentions a grandmother who is unknown - a concubine NOT specifying that she was greekling or african or egyptian. Dont know about anybody else, but to me 1 quarter possible negroid/african does not negroid/african make. For all anybody knows, that 1 quarter could have been semetic, african, egyptian or greekling…

Can we get back to what we do know about her? We DO know she was 3 quarters greekling. What part of WE DONT KNOW cant people understand? How about stickiing tio what we do know, and come out and admit what we dont know?

Oh man, I though you were going to come in here spreading that “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” half-truth. Whew. Hear, hear. Carry on.

Well, she was African in the sense that she was born in Africa and a ruler of an African country. (And the Romans had a different concept of “Africa” than we do)

How on Earth does being “beautiful, female, and African” embody everything threatening to Rome?

Actually, we have a pretty good idea about what she looked like:


I just the misfortune of seeing a show called Pagans while I was in the UK. A supposed “professor of Anthropology” told us that trees were sacred to pagans. All of them. Everywhere. At all times. No exceptions. And this explains why we like going for a walk in the countryside.

He then found the remains of a wooden temple which had burned down. He knew without the slightest doubt that this was proff of a sacrifice. There was no possibilty that it was struck by lightning, destroyed by arson, burned down by a rival village or anything else. This guy knew. :rolleyes:

Because it means she’d seduce Romans (like Antony) with her decadent foreign ways? That’s my guess.

Hmmm, there is a possibility.

I would think that ungovernable Visigoths with bad-attitudes and pitch forks would be a greater threat.

From Dio Cassius

She, in that passage, being Cleopatra, and he being Antony, and my coding is messed up…

By the way, who did Cleo fancy more?

Ceasar or Anthony?

That is one impressive honker.

And that would be uggggllyyyy…

Well, I wouldn’t say she was ugly, just that she’s not gorgeous. I kind of like the big nose. She must have been really charismatic, though, and/or really good in bed.

I agree with Hari (can I call you Hari? Love that book btw) she’s not ugly. She may not be gorgeous but I betcha if we saw her in all her glory she’d look pretty darn good. Statues and coins don’t give you the whole picture… like personality.

And heck, she could be ugly and have absolutely no personality whatsoever… she’d still be attractive because she had power.

Go ahead, call me Hari. Sounds good to me.

Mind you, after I looked at those coins, I had an urge to go check out my own nose. I’m developing a complex about it, just for fun. Mine doesn’t compare to Cleo’s, though.

Remember that the nose was probably worse in real life. Sculptors had a habit of toning down, sometimes severely, the negative aspects of their patron’s physical appearance for things - especially things that were to be for public consumption.

I know Shelly Halley. I like her. I don’t think she’d make such a dumb statement.

I think she meant, as suggested by others here, that she really meant “foreign and able to seduce powerful Romans”, not Black. The Romans really were uncomforatble with the idea of their leaders being led around by their balls by a Greco-Egyptian.

Of course, that may just be my school pride speaking (she’s a Latin prof at my alma mater).

Watch the documentary, it will most likely be played again [and again, and again, and again…] And nothing to me makes me particularly willing to accept 90% of modern academics as able to do anything but teach their own narrow little subjects with tolerable competence. She was not there as a teacher of latin, she was there as an expert on Cleopatra and the Romans. Personally, being able to read Suetonius in the original transcription is nothing like actually comprehending the history being discussed. FWIW, I can read latin fairly competently <shrug> and can claim only to be a synthesist. However, I read many different subjects because I have no vested need to keep my tenure so I can branch out and read about the keltoi migrations, the brithons, the goths, the huns and the mongolians as my whim takes me. Paul Buell may be the current expert on early mongolian/chinese cooking and veterinary medical practices, but he will be the first one to admit that he has not clue 1 about the eastern europeans other than as they came into contact with the mongolian armies. He doesnt have to read about them until he runs across them in his chinese documentation whereas I happen to have read up upon them as fun to check out a novel I was reading and wanted to find out more. I have not got a publisher breathing down my neck [though I think his book on veterinary practices of the mongols is about ready for publication, the house here finished up with the galley proofs a few weeks ago.]

[And our definition of african is not the Roman definition of african. Scipio Africanus got his name because of the Punic Wars versus the Carthaginians, and nobody claims that the carthaginians were negroid sub-saharan africans…too many moderns use our definitions of african when dealing with classical history, and that is the major bug up my ass.]

I think she was in love with Caesar, and glommed onto Antony to help her fight Octavius, who hated her. I don’t know if she loved Antony as much as Caesar.

From what I understand, she was an intelligent, politically astute lady. She survived assasination attempts and managed to enthrall not one but two of the most powerful men in the ancient world.

So, at the very least, she must have been incredibly charismatic. Maybe not being beautiful helped her…she was able to develop her other assets and not just rely on her looks. (Not that beautiful women can’t be smart and successful.)