Cleopatra and her connection to Cyprus

Cleopatra was the last monarch in the line of the Greek royal dynasty of the Ptolemies who ruled Egypt and its nearby territories for the greatest part of the period following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC up until the official annexation of Egypt by Rome in 30 BC. This period is known as the Hellenistic Period, which saw an unprecedented flourishing of the arts and sciences.

The kingdom of Cleopatra for a certain brief period also included Cyprus. Ancient relics in Cyprus dating back to the wider Hellenistic Period can most notably be seen at Curium, Paphos and Salamis. The Archaeological Museum in Nicosia also boasts a remarkable collection of fine hellenistic statues.

Cleopatra’s name literally translates from Greek as “the Glory of her Father”. And her life certainly did not lack glory. Cleopatra was renowned not only for her divine beauty, mythical wealth and extravagant lifestyle, but also for her political wit which she skilfully employed in striving to maintain her kingdom’s independence, or a degree of independence, in the face of an ever expanding Roman Empire. Her epic love with Julius Caesar and her influence over him helped Cleopatra in securing her position as the queen of Egypt. Caesar’s admiration for Cleopatra was such that he erected in Rome and dedicated to her a temple and a colossal golden statue of New Aphrodite, as Cleopatra was known. Cleopatra was brought by Caesar to live with him in Rome and he presented her to the Romans as his queen. This was interpreted by the Romans as providing proof of Caesar’s increasingly autocratic tendencies and is believed to have been one of the causes which led to Caesar’s assassination.

A few years after Caesar’s death, the Roman general Mark Antony paid a visit to Cleopatra and sought financial support for his military campaigns. Cleopatra and Antony became romantically involved and when the latter handed over to Egypt a number of Roman territories, Rome declared war on Cleopatra. The final battle was played out at sea off the coast of Actium, where Antony joined forces with Cleopatra against the Roman emperor Octavian, who nonetheless came out victorious. 

In the aftermath of the battle, believing false news that Cleopatra was dead, Antony took his own life. Cleopatra realised, to her detriment, that all had been lost and she also committed suicide…

This marked a tragic end for Cleopatra and her kingdom. However the fascinating life of Cleopatra provided, for many centuries afterwards, the subject matter of inspiration for poets and theatrical writers, including Shakespeare, and was also immortalised on film by Hollywood in the well known epic of 1963 featuring Liz Taylor in the leading role of the last queen of Egypt.      

All copyrights, George Loizou and Cleopatra Hotel, 2016 

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