Primary sources are very important in the aid of research. They give us first hand accounts of historical events, whether as an actual participant, witness or simply an historian of the time. Primary resources I used for this paper are the writings of Plutarch and Dio Cassius. There are no primary resources that directly document Cleopatra’s life. While Plutarch and Dio Cassius lived about 200 years after her death, they are the closest resources that give any information about her. Granted the information is given in relation to her affect upon Julius Caesar and Mark Antony’s lives, but it does offer us insight to her personality and character. I would like to note at this time that Plutarch seems to have a more objective viewpoint where she is concerned than that of Dio Cassius. Dio Cassius seems to have a generally sour opinion of her and seems to blame her for the downfall of Caesar and Antony.
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt
In the winter of 68 BCE, the famous Cleopatra VII was born into a world of royal corruption and intrigue. She learned early the manipulative methods of survival. She was taught in the pharaonic tradition of her ancestors to rule with their “brother-husbands.”1 She was thoroughly educated in Greek literature such as those written by Homer and Hesiod, as well as the works of Euripides. Other disciplines she learned were arithmetic, astronomy, medicine, and she could even draw, sing, or play the lyre. She learned several languages fluently and was rarely in need of an interpreter when she was Queen.2 She was the first of her dynasty who actually took the time to learn the language of her subjects.
In 51 BCE, Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XII died. His first heir, his daughter Berenice, was killed by her husband. Therefore Cleopatra, according to dynastic tradition, married her 10 years old brother, Ptolemy XIII, and became Queen of Egypt at the age of 18. Because he...