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Thread: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    [Epic Shakespearean announcer's voice:] by the powers of Wikipedia and black magic sorcery, arise! Arise, Cleopatra, seventh of her name! Arise and show us thy face! The face that wooed Julius Caesar and Mark Antony! The face descended from Ptolemy I, that Macedonian Greek general of Alexander the Great! The face that stared into the eyes of death itself with the vicious asp that bit your chest and introduced its deadly toxin! The face that shall inspire Afrocentrism for centuries to come and serve as a timeless icon for Black Power! The face that...



    Oh. Never mind. She's kinda average for a white chick, I guess. I wouldn't swipe her away on Tinder, though. On condition that she ditch the kid here, Caesarion. I ain't paying no child support, k babe? If she speaks Latin in the streets and Greek in the sheets then we all good, yo.

    The image above comes from the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus at Pompeii, Italy, and it's one that I just uploaded to Wikimedia Commons today and placed in several articles at Wikipedia (i.e. the ones for Cleopatra, Caesarion, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Augustus). I also created the entire "Depictions in ancient art" sub-section of Cleopatra's present article. Without my doing, this particular painting from Pompeii would be a rather obscure one and very hard to find online, used almost exclusively in academic circles (where we all know they have a kinky fapping fetish for keeping these things to themselves and away from the unworthy, unwashed plebs of the general public, especially the uncouth dregs and knaves at TWC). As explained by Duane W. Roller (Cleopatra: a biography, Oxford University Press, 2010) and Susan Walker ("Cleopatra in Pompeii?", Papers from the British School at Rome, 2008), it's a contemporary Roman depiction of Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt as Venus Genetrix, holding her rugrat son Caesarion, seen here as an annoying little blonde-haired cupid hugging her face.

    Caesarion, as you may recall, was allegedly the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar.

    Uh oh, Spaghettios! That was simply too problematic for Octavian/Augustus, who murdered the little bastard and would-be heir to Caesar in 30 BC. Plus, Caesarion was the legitimate Hellenistic king of Egypt, another obstacle for the expansionism of Augustus. Gotta get that sweet, sweet Egyptian grain without worrying about another stupid Ptolemaic civil war disrupting vital imports for the hungry, unruly mob in Rome. The cool thing about this painting is that the owner of it decided to wall it off completely and hide it within the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus. Both Roller and Walker affirm that this was done shortly after Caesarion was executed and there's evidence that there was a program in place for destroying images of Caesarion, who would continue to be a thorn in the side of Augustus if his legacy lived on (plus damnatio memoriae and all that nasty grease-ball Guido Italian mafia stuff). For instance, several academic sources compare the painting in Pompeii to a sculpted marble bust in the Vatican museum, the so-called Vatican Cleopatra, which appears to have a mark on its left cheek where a cupid's hand once rested. The Vatican Cleopatra, along with the Berlin Cleopatra (Altes Museum, Berlin) that has a full, undamaged nose, both seem to be derived from a single, standard work, which Roller and Walker assume was the now lost gilded statue of Cleopatra erected in the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar, Rome, by her patron Julius Caesar (it was still standing there as late as the 3rd century).

    The Berlin Cleopatra:


    The Vatican Cleopatra:


    The British Museum Cleopatra (lacking a royal diadem, so perhaps one of her courtiers mimicking her 'melon' hairstyle instead of the actual queen herself):


    The Tomba di Nerone Cleopatra, now in the Museo Pio-Clementino of the Vatican Museums:


    The Esquiline Venus, thought by some academics to depict Cleopatra (with good reason):


    And of course, who could forget the famous Queen Latifa Malik Abdul Jabar Afro Farrakhan Ebony Cleopatra:


    If only that statue of Cleopatra commissioned by Julius Caesar was still standing in the Roman Forum! Or at least fragments of it. It must have been re-purposed during the Christian era, no doubt. Hey! Let's melt down the gilded bits to make jewelry and use the other parts as building materials!

    So what do you guys make of all of this? Bear in mind this thread is about the academic discourse focused on surviving coins, sculptures and paintings. We don't need to talk about the silly race debate in popular media. Let's focus instead on comparing and contrasting these images in the surviving corpus of ancient works depicting Cleopatra, and those which are mostly disputed in academia. Let's all huddle together in our Ivory Tower and have a smart discussion about this, cuz we're smart guys and we do smart things like comparing the aquiline nose of the Berlin portrait to that of Cleo's coinage. That's pretty smart! You can do smart stuff too, right? Like a smart kid?

    In essence, the title of my thread is largely in jest, even though it's true. We're not here to talk about Cleopatra's skin unless it has something to do with an academic debate, such as Walker's comparison of her ivory-white skin and other features in the Pompeii mural to that of common Roman and Ptolemaic-Egyptian depictions of various goddesses.

    Oh, and if you deviate from this, the wrath of the gods and the thousand moderators of the Persian Empire shall descend upon you. Their arrows and TWC moderation shall blot out the sun, one should hope. And we shall argue in the shade.

    EDIT: I made this little video recently about the aforementioned artworks. Please visit the link, give it a thumbs up, and subscribe!



    EDIT (1 June 2018): these images can be found in the rest of the thread now, but I think they can be placed in the OP, just for good measure.

    Cleopatra and Caesarion, wearing royal diadems and attended to by servants as Cleo commits suicide by poisoning, in a fresco from the House of Giuseppe II at Pompeii dated to the early 1st century AD:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ing_poison.jpg


    Posthumous painted portrait of Cleopatra from Herculaneum dated to the early 1st century AD (before Herculaneum was destroyed in 79 AD by Mt Vesuvius), depicting Cleopatra with red hair, her Greek royal diadem, melon-style hairdo, and studded pearl earrings:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...1127162%29.jpg

  2. #2
    Kyriakos's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    We wuz ptolemaic greeks

    Seriously, black people have many ancient and medieval kingdoms of their own. It is ridiculous to cling on to dumb theories (likely by white people; as usual) like black Cleopatra, Athena etc.

    Btw, that Venus-Cleopatra statue is very nice. I can see why that thing which shall not be named (again ) happened to the statue of Aphrodite of Knidos. The thousand priapoi of the roman empire etc etc
    Last edited by Kyriakos; March 10, 2018 at 06:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it


    Cleoptatra was black and I can prove it!


    First, let's remember that race is a social construct, it is not a biological reality that can be proven through skin color or DNA; whereas race in 30BC usually referred more to homeland and heritage than actual skin color or place of birth. Alexander for instance was not born in Greece but was considered (and is still considered today) racially Greek none the less.

    In Cleopatra's case, she was the first ruler in the Ptolemy line to speak Egyptian. She also fancized herself as the reincarnation of the Egyptian god ISIS, became pharaoh, and was said culturally to be very pro Egyptian. In fact, Cleoptatra was probably the first Ptolemy ruler to not have many of the native "barbarian" prejudices that are all so common in Greek and Macedonian culture.

    We also know too that Cleoptara was considered Egyptian in her time by her Roman counterparts. She is depicted in Roman art and coins as mostly Egyptian (not Greek), was politically considered the legitmante blood ruler of Egypt by Caesar and Antony, and is said by roman historians to have worn Egyptian style hair and dress during visits to Rome.

    Finally, to close, because Cleoptatra considered herself Egyptian (in the mold that Alexander considered himself Greek), and was racially considered Egyptian in her time, we modern historians have no choice but to also consider her black. The ancient name for Egypt of course, as it was called by Egyptians during antiquity was Kemet, aka "black land." Whereas Herodotus himself refers to Egyptians as black-skinned and wholly haired, and having complextion that was "melanchroes" and noticeably darker than white Europeans: http://scribbles-world.blogspot.com/...t-ancient.html

    BOOM.

    -Dick Cheney,
    Devil's Advocate.
    Last edited by Dick Cheney.; March 10, 2018 at 09:56 PM.
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    Kyriakos's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    ^You should consider publishing that
    Very woke. Much idea. Doge was italian.
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    @Roma Can you upload ancient and Medieval paintings/mosaics even if they were discovered, possibly restored and published less than 70 years ago?

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyriakos View Post
    We wuz ptolemaic greeks

    Seriously, black people have many ancient and medieval kingdoms of their own. It is ridiculous to cling on to dumb theories (likely by white people; as usual) like black Cleopatra, Athena etc.
    I guess it's easier to latch onto a Shakespearean, popular historical figure like Cleopatra than to do the minimally-hard work of discovering that sub-Saharan African kingdoms existed, such as the Kingdom of Kush in Nubia (i.e. ancient Sudan), the Axumite Kingdom of Ethiopia and for that matter the later medieval Ethiopian Empire, the Islamic states in medieval Somalia, the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai in West Africa, the Swahili city-states, and of course the city of Great Zimbabwe. A medieval black African king Mansa Musa I of Mali was one of the richest men in the world during the 14th century, and yet I don't recall any of the host of silly Afrocentrists even bothering to tout him as their own (probably don't even know about him).

    None of these are as sexy as Cleopatra or as fetishized by military historians as Hannibal Barca, though. That's why they go after these obvious figures, because North Africa belongs to the same continent as Niger and the Congo, therefore it's all the same! Just how Pakistanis and Koreans are the exact same people/population group/race and have the exact same culture. Because they all live in Asia, duh!

    Btw, that Venus-Cleopatra statue is very nice. I can see why that thing which shall not be named (again ) happened to the statue of Aphrodite of Knidos. The thousand priapoi of the roman empire etc etc
    That scandalously naked Aphrodite of Knidos may no longer exist, but at least the Romans made enough copies of it. For wanking purposes of course.

    The Esquiline Venus is argued by some scholars to have facial features that are too dissimilar to the Berlin bust of Cleopatra, and that she wouldn't have been depicted as a naked goddess Venus because that would be scandalous. I think these are weak-sauce arguments, to be frank. The face of the Esquiline Venus has an aquiline nose, a melon-style hairdo like the Vatican and Berlin busts (to say nothing of her various coins), and even the freaking vase at her feet has an asp/Egyptian cobra wrapped around it. And for that matter she was depicted as a scantily-clad goddess in Egyptian-style statuary, so again, not something taboo for her in Egypt at the very least. And the Esquiline Venus in its current form is a Roman copy of a Greek original anyway, most likely from the school of Pasiteles (admittedly a Greek of Magna Graecia who was given Roman citizenship, but still).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Cheney. View Post
    First, let's remember that race is a social construct, it is not a biological reality that can be proven through skin color or DNA; whereas race in 30BC usually referred more to homeland and heritage than actual skin color or place of birth. Alexander for instance was not born in Greece but was considered (and is still considered today) racially Greek none the less.
    Alexander III ("the Great") was born in Pella, the capital of Macedonia...in what is now modern-day Greece. I mean, the partisan Athenian Demosthenes considered the Macedonians to be non-Greek barbarians out of political expediency and to more effectively rally anti-Macedonian sentiments among the Athenians. That doesn't really say much about culture or language, seeing how the Macedonians worshiped Greek gods, had Greek names, participated in the pan-Hellenic games like the Olympics (even common Macedonians by the 4th century BC), and spoke a northern dialect of Greek as well as universal Attic (and then Koine) Greek.

    Overall, yes, race is a social construct and far too fluid to be strictly defined; in biology, genetics, and in taxonomic terms it's better to speak of population groups than "races" and whatnot. Ancient peoples didn't even have a concept for race anyway, but they were capable of being culturally xenophobic and downright tribal when it came to citizenship and having allegiance to their polis, city-state, kingdom, or republic. The Spartans and Athenians are glaring examples of that.

    It is pretty telling, though, that this is what Romans considered Macedonian Greeks to have looked like ("Alexander Mosaic" of Pompeii, c. 100 BC):



    In Cleopatra's case, she was the first ruler in the Ptolemy line to speak Egyptian. She also fancized herself as the reincarnation of the Egyptian god ISIS, became pharaoh, and was said culturally to be very pro Egyptian. In fact, Cleoptatra was probably the first Ptolemy ruler to not have many of the native "barbarian" prejudices that are all so common in Greek and Macedonian culture.
    Yes and no. Yes, she was the first ruler of the (Macedonian-Greek) Ptolemaic dynasty to bother learning how to speak Late Egyptian, the native language spoken in the core part of her empire (that at various points also stretched into the Levant, Anatolia, Cyprus, and even the Aegean Islands). She was most certainly not the first Ptolemaic ruler, however, to style herself as a pharaoh, to appeal to the native Egyptians. Even the founder Ptolemy I did that, depicted in some art as a typical Egyptian pharaoh. I don't think decrees like the Rosetta stone would have existed had the Ptolemies made no effort to appeal to their ethnic Egyptian subjects.

    We also know too that Cleoptara was considered Egyptian in her time by her Roman counterparts. She is depicted in Roman art and coins as mostly Egyptian (not Greek), was politically considered the legitmante blood ruler of Egypt by Caesar and Antony, and is said by roman historians to have worn Egyptian style hair and dress during visits to Rome.
    That's hilariously false. It's true that Cleopatra is depicted in Egyptian-style statuary wearing Egyptian-style dress (including the headdress crowned with the golden uraei cobras), but to my knowledge her coinage exclusively shows her as a typical Hellenist-Greek monarch wearing the diadem. This is consistent in all of her coinage and in her Greco-Roman busts shown above in the opening post. It's funny that you say her hair was done in the Egyptian style. No. She had a "melon" style Hellenistic hairdo that was even copied by Roman women, who found it to be fashionable before her fall from grace. Did these Roman women suddenly become ethnic Egyptians when they copied her hairstyle? No. Because that's retarded.

    If you think her coinage shows in the Egyptian style (like her portrait here alongside Mark Antony), then you need your eyeglasses prescription checked out, because you are unable to see what everyone else can see, that she is depicted as a Hellenistic Greek monarch:



    Finally, to close, because Cleoptatra considered herself Egyptian (in the mold that Alexander considered himself Greek), and was racially considered Egyptian in her time, we modern historians have no choice but to also consider her black. The ancient name for Egypt of course, as it was called by Egyptians during antiquity was Kemet, aka "black land." Whereas Herodotus himself refers to Egyptians as black-skinned and wholly haired, and having complextion that was "melanchroes" and noticeably darker than white Europeans: http://scribbles-world.blogspot.com/...t-ancient.html
    Lol. Egypt was called "Kemet", the "Black land" thanks to the silt deposits along the Nile. Not because of people's skin. Also, we should consider the context of Herodotus and other Greeks when they said Egyptians were "black" or "dark", since Herodotus was directly comparing Egyptians to the people of Colchis...in what is now modern-day Georgia in the Caucasus.

    There were certainly some Egyptians who were black, especially in Upper Egypt (i.e. southern Egypt), given the proximity to the Kingdom of Kush in Nubia. The ancient Egyptians, in their painted relief artwork, were pretty keen to distinguish themselves as being lighter in tone than the black-skinned Nubians, though. Even the Roman historian Arrian in the 2nd century AD noted that the Egyptians were lighter-skinned than the Ethiopians. In fact, he specifically stated people in northern India resembled those of Egypt, while darker Tamil people in southern India resembled those in Ethiopia (the blackness of their hair, not so much their noses as he said in Indica: 6.9).

    If you want to say Egyptians were black, then you better explain how a bunch of painted statuary, like those of Rahotep and his wife Nofret from the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom seen here, show freakishly-different skin tones for men (brownish-red) and women (milky, pale white)



    Ooh boy, I can't wait to hear your explanation!

    In either case, Cleopatra never really lost her Greek identity. Do you think she was speaking Egyptian to Julius Caesar and Mark Antony? No. Obviously she spoke the universal language of Koine Greek first and foremost. You also failed to point out that she learned Egyptian as a foreign language, and she was more than just bilingual, she spoke several languages, including those of the Parthians, Medes, Jews, and Ethiopians. Does that mean she was an Iranian Parthian? or a Jew because she spoke ancient Hebrew?

    The answer to that should be pretty obvious.

    I guess since I know a good amount of Latin that makes me an ethnic Romani and Roman citizen, too.

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    Dick Cheney really is a devil's advocate, so I see what you did there, Dick.

    Quote Originally Posted by LinusLinothorax View Post
    @Roma Can you upload ancient and Medieval paintings/mosaics even if they were discovered, possibly restored and published less than 70 years ago?
    Ancient paintings and mosaics are two-dimensional works of art and so are public domain. If they were made less than 70 years ago, however, then no, they still have copyright status. Even three-dimensional works of ancient art (like busts and statues) are licensed and copyrighted by their photographers as their own artwork, unless they decide to release it into the public domain on their own volition.

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    Copperknickers II's Avatar quaeri, si sapis
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post

    And of course, who could forget the famous Queen Latifa Malik Abdul Jabar Afro Farrakhan Ebony Cleopatra:


    So what do you guys make of all of this? Bear in mind this thread is about the academic discourse focused on surviving coins, sculptures and paintings. We don't need to talk about the silly race debate in popular media. Let's focus instead on comparing and contrasting these images in the surviving corpus of ancient works depicting Cleopatra, and those which are mostly disputed in academia. Let's all huddle together in our Ivory Tower and have a smart discussion about this, cuz we're smart guys and we do smart things like comparing the aquiline nose of the Berlin portrait to that of Cleo's coinage. That's pretty smart! You can do smart stuff too, right? Like a smart kid?
    Can't make any promises there Roma.

    For me, the most striking thing about that picture (which seems to be a good aggregate of the statues) is that she doesn't really look like any ethnicity I've seen. I guess that's what you call a 'pure' Greek, before those damned dirty Slavs arrived. She looks sort of similar to modern Albanians and Cypriots moreso than Greeks. I think the average Brit would probably identify her as Middle Eastern rather than European.
    A new mobile phone tower went up in a town in the USA, and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cellphone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health.

    A local administrator was asked to comment. He nodded sagely, and said simply: "Wow. And think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

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    Kyriakos's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    ^I agree that she has some features which do liken her to some cypriot girls, yet isn't close to the statues ^^ Colour tone is not at all like cypriot girls, though (face is considerably close to a couple i can think of ).
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    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    I can also prove she was inbred. Credit where credit is due though, despite centuries of incest, in order to protect their dynastic monopoly of power, Lagid rules seem surprisingly mentally stable, although a bit lacking in the visual department:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I am pretty confident that Dick Cheney was just joking, but it's also interesting to note that, as far as I know, the Lagids never adopted the title of "pharaoh" in their official titles. No relevant results appear, in what concerns the papyrological and epigraphic testimony. Apart from statues and mural paintings, as well as Egyptian-inspired epithets, the identification of the Lagid dynasty with the Egyptian past may have been somewhat limited. About Cleopatra, I agree that Shakespeare is responsible for the modern fascination with her personality. Personally, I always rooted for her sneakily murdered brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, but even in terms of female leadership, her rule is not exceptional. She is always recorded in the second place, in the royal decrees, behind the male nominal kings, her brothers or her son (Ptolemy XV). However, Cleopatra II had already preceded her in that regard, where she is mentioned together with her chubby and controversial brother, Ptolemy VIII. More interestingly, though, Cleopatra III, serving as a regent for her minor son, Ptolemy IX, is considered as the supreme member in the couple, an honour Cleopatra VII never succeeded in gaining.

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Can't make any promises there Roma.

    For me, the most striking thing about that picture (which seems to be a good aggregate of the statues) is that she doesn't really look like any ethnicity I've seen. I guess that's what you call a 'pure' Greek, before those damned dirty Slavs arrived. She looks sort of similar to modern Albanians and Cypriots moreso than Greeks. I think the average Brit would probably identify her as Middle Eastern rather than European.
    You're right to say that they at least made the structure of her face fairly close to those in her busts and statues. As for the skin color, not so much, considering the Roman mural at Pompeii...the chief subject of this thread...showing a pasty-white woman with straight, light brunette hair (and a blonde kid). As for Middle Easterners and Southern Europeans, there's obviously a lot of truth about shared genetic history, since North Africans, in both culture and genetics, share a lot more in common with other peoples of the Mediterranean than blacks living south of the Sahara Desert. And that's not to say there weren't some blacks in North Africa in ancient times, as you and Lord Oda discussed recently in that thread about Roman North Africans. Hell, some blacks even made it to Hellenistic-period Greece, judging by some pottery items.

    https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qim...aef17107ac7946


    Then again, every realistic painting and mosaic depicting ancient Greeks I've ever seen basically shows white Caucasian people.

    For instance, the Macedonian Greeks depicted at a symposium in the Tomb of Agios Athanasios, Thessaloniki, Greece, 4th century BC:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...Athanasios.jpg


    And the common soldiery for that matter:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedo...s_1_fresco.jpg


    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    I can also prove she was inbred. Credit where credit is due though, despite centuries of incest, in order to protect their dynastic monopoly of power, Lagid rules seem surprisingly mentally stable, although a bit lacking in the visual department:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Yep, they were certainly incestuous, and this produced some problems, but not many for the Ptolemies, surprisingly. Her Ptolemaic ancestors, though, were depicted as pretty flawless and heroic-looking (probably idealized portraits, but that's just my own speculation).

    Bust of Ptolemy I


    Bust of Ptolemy II


    Bust of Cleopatra II


    Then again, Berenice II was definitely not a looker:


    I am pretty confident that Dick Cheney was just joking,
    I know. I noted that at the end of my last post.

    but it's also interesting to note that, as far as I know, the Lagids never adopted the title of "pharaoh" in their official titles. No relevant results appear, in what concerns the papyrological and epigraphic testimony. Apart from statues and mural paintings, as well as Egyptian-inspired epithets, the identification of the Lagid dynasty with the Egyptian past may have been somewhat limited. About Cleopatra, I agree that Shakespeare is responsible for the modern fascination with her personality. Personally, I always rooted for her sneakily murdered brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, but even in terms of female leadership, her rule is not exceptional. She is always recorded in the second place, in the royal decrees, behind the male nominal kings, her brothers or her son (Ptolemy XV). However, Cleopatra II had already preceded her in that regard, where she is mentioned together with her chubby and controversial brother, Ptolemy VIII. More interestingly, though, Cleopatra III, serving as a regent for her minor son, Ptolemy IX, is considered as the supreme member in the couple, an honour Cleopatra VII never succeeded in gaining.
    Good points. To that I would add the importance of the Ptolemaic queens Berenice III and even Cleopatra V.

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    LaMuerte's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    I came here kinda expecting Roma_Victrix announce to the world that he is the long lost descendant of Cleopatra. To finally see that question settled! But all I got were some sweet words and some pretty pictures. Left disappointed.

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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by LaMuerte View Post
    I came here kinda expecting Roma_Victrix announce to the world that he is the long lost descendant of Cleopatra. To finally see that question settled! But all I got were some sweet words and some pretty pictures. Left disappointed.
    Hey pal, there's still plenty of time for me to make outrageous claims. For all you know I could be a descendant of Ethiopia's last emperor Haile Selassie of the Solomonic dynasty, or China's last emperor Puyi of the Qing dynasty. If you combine the two, then perhaps I'm a black Chinaman after all.

    I'm glad you liked the pretty pictures! And those sweet, sweet words honeying your ears. Fortunately for you I intend on making further posts about her portraits in coinage. I'll also post some juicy quotes from Susan Walker if I have time for that too.

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    I can't confirm it on any academic sites, but it appears that yet another painting at Pompeii might depict Cleopatra. Susan Walker and Duane W. Roller seem immensely confident that, with little doubt, the painting I showed above from the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus depicts Cleopatra VII. They didn't say anything about the Temple of Isis fresco from Pompeii, and yet there is a direct comparison made by this Reno Coin collector's club:

    http://www.renocoinclub.org/CartwheelOct2013.html


    They are not an academic institution, so take it with a grain of salt when they say: "Even more fascinating is the identification of a fresco in Pompeii as being an image of Cleopatra. It had long been thought that the images of Isis found in the Temple of Isis in Pompeii might be depictions of Cleopatra as Isis. Take a look."

    Roller (2010), writing for the Oxford University Press, says that the painting from the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus is the only legitimate surviving painted depiction of Cleopatra, though. Perhaps they excluded the other from the Temple of Isis because it is controversial, or only a minority of scholars have that opinion? It could simply just depict the goddess Isis holding an Egyptian cobra (while sitting next to Io), but I'm not sure.

    Here's the original fresco from Wikimedia:


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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    I'll preface this by saying I don't know anything about anything (), but isn't it possible that the Roman artist(s) painted Cleopatra in a such a way as to claim her as "white", or perhaps less controversially, they simply might have thought that their target audience would prefer an image depicting Cleopatra in such a way? Just curious. How much can one conclude from simply seeing a painting? It's not like it's a photograph.
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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by Frunk View Post
    I'll preface this by saying I don't know anything about anything (), but isn't it possible that the Roman artist(s) painted Cleopatra in a such a way as to claim her as "white", or perhaps less controversially, they simply might have thought that their target audience would prefer an image depicting Cleopatra in such a way? Just curious. How much can one conclude from simply seeing a painting? It's not like it's a photograph.
    I'm glad you asked! For starters, you have it backwards: it was the Romans whose nascent native artwork was entirely steeped in Hellenistic-Greek artistic trends and modes (even the very concept of realistic depictions of people in wall painting was borrowed from Etruscans and Greeks), and it was the Romans who were impacted by Cleopatra's style of dress and hairdo, not the other way around. It was Roman women who copied the "melon" hairstyle that we can see not only in Cleopatra's coinage, but in this very painting from Pompeii (as pointed out in that 2008 article from Walker I cited above, with the crinkles in her translucent veil revealing the partitions of that hairstyle). She also wears the typical royal regalia of Hellenistic Greek rulers, only a bit more lavish: a jewel-encrusted, golden diadem. In essence, it is a humbly-observant painted depiction of Cleopatra and more importantly it is a reflection of her realistic statue that once stood in the Temple of Venus Genetrix on orders of Julius Caesar. There's nothing particularly Roman about this woman, not even the veil, which was also worn by Greek women.

    Also, the Romans didn't really have a concept of whiteness or 19th-century-style biological racism, even though Roman historians did note with curiosity the complexions of various peoples from West Asia to Egypt, the Horn of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and the Black Sea region (it's also telling that they never made a distinction between themselves and the appearance of the Greeks, despite sometimes viewing them as effeminate and scheming). So no, they wouldn't have had some strange desire to paint people a different color than what they were, as "white-washing" is entirely a modern concept (despite the many inaccurate later medieval European portrayals of distant foreigners such as Ethiopians and Mongols looking almost exactly like medieval Europeans, which was simply done out of innocent ignorance on behalf of those particular medieval artists). For instance, the ancient Romans had no qualms depicting black sub-Saharan Africans the way they were (at least how the Romans viewed them):


    (Mosaic from the Antakya Archaeological Museum, Hatay Province, Turkey, 2nd Century AD, depicting a black African fisherman)


    (Black shepherd and his zebra in an Eastern Roman mosaic, 5th century AD, from the Villa of the Amazons in ancient Edessa, modern Urfa, Turkey)

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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Well duh, she was a ginger and purely inbred from a family that was renowned for having pale skin. You literally don't get more white than that.

    But more importantly: Who the cares? If it doesn't matter shouldn't we all just shut the up about it?
    If some obscure crazy black-supremacist "historian" retard wants to pretend that the Ptolemies magically became black, just let him be and ignore him I guess.
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    Well duh, she was a ginger and purely inbred from a family that was renowned for having pale skin. You literally don't get more white than that.

    But more importantly: Who the cares? If it doesn't matter shouldn't we all just shut the up about it?
    If some obscure crazy black-supremacist "historian" retard wants to pretend that the Ptolemies magically became black, just let him be and ignore him I guess.
    That's agreeable, but despite my click-bait thread title, that's not what this thread is actually about. Did you read it? We're talking about contemporary Roman and Hellenistic artworks here and the potential comparisons to be made between them. You seem to have ignored the entire last four paragraphs of the OP.

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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    That's agreeable, but despite my click-bait thread title, that's not what this thread is actually about. Did you read it? We're talking about contemporary Roman and Hellenistic artworks here and the potential comparisons to be made between them. You seem to have ignored the entire last four paragraphs of the OP.
    Bahahahaha, you got me.
    In my defence it was a long OP. I liked your pretty pictures. Ok, I shall redeem myself with an appropriate response shortly.
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    Bahahahaha, you got me.
    In my defence it was a long OP. I liked your pretty pictures. Ok, I shall redeem myself with an appropriate response shortly.
    Sorry, but that won't do. According to the articles of the elders of TWCion, the penalty for posting without reading the full OP is death by public stoning.
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    Default Re: Cleopatra was white and I can prove it

    I now have to wonder if red hair is a phenotype that ran in the family for the Ptolemies. The painting in the OP from Pompeii shows her as a light brunette (with her son Caesarion as blond). However, this posthumous portrait of Cleopatra VII from nearby Herculaneum shows her with red hair. It reminded me instantly of a mosaic from Thmuis (Mendes), Egypt, that I had seen long ago of the Ptolemaic Queen Berenice II, Cleopatra's ancestor, in an artwork dated around 200 BC. She seems to have reddish brunette hair in it. Perhaps it's from that old Egyptian tradition of dying hair red as associated with certain deities. I'm not really sure. I have no idea what hair color Ptolemy I had, but Macedonian Greeks in general have been depicted with it, even Alexander the Great and Hephaestion in the Stag Hunt Mosaic of the late 4th century BC.

    Painting from Roman Herculaneum, Italy, late 1st-century BC to mid-1st century AD, most likely a portrait of Cleopatra VII with red hair and wearing her royal diadem.


    Mosaic of Berenice II personified as the city of Alexandria, with a ship's prow crown and anchor brooch symbolizing the Ptolemaic naval prowess in the Mediterranean, c. 200 BC, from Thmuis (Mendes), Egypt


    The famous Stag Hunt Mosaic depicting Alexander the Great and Hephaestion, late 4th century BC, from Pella, Macedonia, Greece

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