Prior to writing my Inkwell Inspirations blog post today, my knowledge of Cleopatra was pretty limited. Besides the fact that Shakespeare wrote a play about her and that she liked to sit on a barge, really, what else did I need to know?
That's a rhetorical question.
Tons have been written and said about the Egyptian Queen. Philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, "Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed."
As I did my research, I learned a sad truth: Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator broke the Ten Commandments more times than any of us have probably contemplated. See how many you can find in these facts:
~She became the Pharaoh of the Ptolemaic Dynasty after succeeded Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (Auletes). As the last Queen and last Pharoah of Egypt, she reigned for 21 years, from 51 BC to 30 BC, during which time she had her sister killed. Following Cleopatra's death, Egypt became a Roman province.
~She died in 30 BC, when she was only 39 years old. She committed suicide and used an asp (an Egyptian cobra snake) for the purpose.
~As mistress of Julius Caesar, she gave birth to one son. While Mark Antony was married to another woman, he married Cleopatra. They had three children. During her marriages to her brothers, she had no children.
~Contrary to the popular belief, she was perhaps not very beautiful. Coins dating back to her time depict a woman with a hooked nose and masculine features. Yet she was a very intelligent woman, with oodles of charisma and amazing powers of persuasion.
~Cleopatra was not an Egyptian. Rather, she was a Macedonian Greek who descended from Ptolemy I, a Greek general of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy I became the king of Egypt following the death of Alexander.
~In the entire 300-year old Ptolemaic dynasty, Cleopatra was the only Pharaoh who could speak Egyptian. In fact, she was the master of nine languages.
While I like the idea of sitting on a barge, drinking lattes while my servants take turns fanning me and bringing me grapes and other luscious fruits, the grim reality is I don't have much in common with Cleopatra other than she died when she was 39 and I am currently 39. Her suicide, apparently, resulted from her grief in learning of Marc Antony's death.
I love my husband, yet were he to die, I'm not about to hug a snake.
So that makes me think that Cleopatra must had a self-absorbed life. That can only explain to me why she'd walk out on her four children by committing suicide, although maybe she had no idea how to be a mother. Maybe she spent so much time seducing men and climbing the ruling ladder that she never realized her children needed a mother. Maybe she had no idea how to be a mother because she never really had a mother to mother her.
Earlier this week I was talking to my 10th grade son about dating. See, we have a family policy of "no dating until you're out of high school." Even my 1st grader heards the rule. Now I'm sure some readers are thinking, "Gina, you are wacky. What's wrong with letting your children date? After all, they need to learn how to date because dating is good for their social developement."
Hmm. I don't think I spelled development correctly. Yep. The second spelling is right.
As my son once wrote in his English journal, "Dating in high school is a waste of time, emotions, and money."
Anyhoo, in the conversation with my son earlier this week, I told him about my friend Kari and how she'd ignore us while she had a boyfriend, only to hang out with us when the relationship ended. For weeks all we'd hear is complains about her ex. Until she discovered a new love. They'd hook up and we'd be dumped again. My friend Katrina once said, "I feel like she uses us to keep her company until she finds a new boyfriend."
One of the difficulties in being a parent is helping our children understand we have rules for their protection, not just to make their lives miserable.
From what I've read about Cleopatra, she lived in a culture where she had no rules, no boundaries, no moral code. No right and wrong. Her life was a case study of "do whatever makes you happy."
Why is it that folks who always do what makes them happy don't seem to stay happy?
Gotta get that next fix.
Gotta climb that mountain.
Gotta lose five more pounds.
Ever wonder what we're teaching our daughters when we moan, "Uggh, I need to lose some weight, I'm so fat"?
Just a month ago, a lady from church was sharing about the Weight Watchers program she recently started. 99/100 people would look at the woman and say, "She's a size 8. She doesn't need to be doing Weight Watchers."
While I wisely kept my mouth shut, I couldn't help wondering what she was teaching her daughters about physical acceptance. If my 5'5" mom who weighs 135 is on a diet because she's "fat," then I'd better go on a diet too.
Funny thing (or maybe sad) is that of the women I talk to/hang with, the ones who focus most on weight AREN'T the overweight ones. Why is that? If you can't be happy at the weight you weigh now or with the face/body you have now, what makes you think weighing 10 lbs less or having a bit of plastic surgery is going to make you happy? There will ALWAYS be another 5 lbs you can lose. There will ALWAYS be another woman skinnier, prettier, sexier than you. And if you're concerned about that woman, odds are your daughter is going to learn from you that she needs to be concerned about that woman too.
Despite all the grand love affairs Cleopatra had, the renown she gained, the mark in history she made, in the end, some other woman raised her three youngest children.
That to me, makes Cleopatra a failure.
Non-Serious Question of the Day: What children's tv show/cartoon should be permanently banished from all airwaves/internet/world existance?
Serious Question of the Day: What did you hear one of your children say (or see written) that made you realize you'd give yourself a Good Housekeeping star for teaching him/her?