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Nice One Cleo or Don't Be an Asp.

Updated on May 2, 2013

The Banquet of Cleopatra

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – 1669-1770

Cleopatra has made a bet with Marc Antony that she could outdo him in extravagance by spending millions on a single banquet. The banquet was unremarkable. However, after the main course, Cleopatra removed one of her priceless pearl earrings, dispatched it in vinegar and drank it

Thus, she claimed victory.

( In the left foregound is a mysterious sage or seer.

The Banquet
The Banquet | Source

Cleo, I like your style,

You are a winner,

Dressed to kill in subtle, russet, taffeta,

Suitors sway at the arch of an eyebrow.

My dear - what panache

And what sport.

Sending Marc Antony into a spin.

He bet the tunic on his back

His banquet superior to yours,

Clearly he saw the lucre in the bag.

Easy- peasy

He should have known you better.

But that’s men for you.

How I admire

Your controlled inner composure,

That enigmatic moment of triumph,

Wiping the smirk off Marc’s face,

As you calmly play your ace.

The old -

Dissolve the pearl in the vinegar trick,

No problems, you reckon.

Just blowing a cool million or more.

No second thoughts, no hesitation.

You casually raise the glass,

And down the hatch.

Pearl and all.

The ultimate dispatch.

I bow to your power, your composure,

And yes, let’s face it - your youth,

Yet my curiosity conjures up a final scene.

A theory not totally bizarre,

Consider it carefully Cleo,

Could the priceless pearl you swallowed

still have been,

well, you know, retrievable?

You’ll likely say,

The battle won, - who gives a damn?

But think it through

Should some lowliest of lowly hand- person,

Suddenly acquire a galley

And a couple of chariots,

Well, they haven’t won the lottery.

As for fate and destiny,

I see the seer lurking in the corner,

Keeper of the future and the past,

He’s issuing a powerful warning

Take heed, I’m begging you,

And stay away from asps.

  European asp, Vipera aspis
European asp, Vipera aspis | Source

I hope Cleopatra had a sense of humour because she definitely had style.


There are few women from the distant past who still capture the imagination as Cleopatra does –

Born in 69BC – died in 30BC she is remembered and revered


A powerful ruler of Egypt, ruthless, cunning, beautiful

Her conquests of the world’s most powerful men including Julius Caesar and Mark Antony denote her aesthetic and sexual appeal.

Cleopatra had one child to Julius Caesar, three to Mark Antony.

According to tradition Cleopatra committed suicide killing her self by means of an asp bite on August 12th, 30 BC.

She packed a lot of living into her 39 years.

Today her legacy still triumphs through art, theatre, opera, film, literature and other media..

Dressing as Cleopatra is still popular for fancy dress events. Cleopatra wigs are plentiful. Travellers to Egypt want to connect with her, to discover her once more.

Numerous films and TV adaptations have been released through the years.

William Shakespeare’s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra is still a favourite and performed regularly.

In 1963 a blockbuster film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is memorable.

The making of this film was loaded with controversy. - During the shooting Taylor and Burton although both married, became romantically involved. Like Antony and Cleopatra, the rest is history.

Film poster - Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison  - Antony and Cleopatra
Film poster - Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison - Antony and Cleopatra | Source

Quotes attributed to Cleopatra

In praising Antony I have dispraised Caesar.

Fool! Don't you see now that I could have poisoned you a hundred times had I been able to live without you.

I will not be triumphed over.

My honour was not yielded, but conquered merely.

All strange and terrible events are welcome, but comforts we despise.

The Death of Cleopatra by Juan Luna1881
The Death of Cleopatra by Juan Luna1881 | Source

Cleopatra VII Philopator, known to history as Cleopatra, was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. She was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Greek origin that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great's death during the Hellenistic period.


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    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Thelma - I agree, Cleopatra was amazing and left quite a legacy. I'm glad you found this brief look at her life of interest. Thank you.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      I love reading anything about Cleopatra. She was indeed an amazing woman. Not only a woman with beauty but with brain as well. Thanks for sharing your poetry with a background history.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      I never knew this story about Cleopatra. What a canny lady!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Greensleeves, thanks for your words and yes, how different things might have been. Best wishes...

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK

      Nice mix of poem, facts and quotes about one of the most remarkable women in history. Her alliances first with Caesar and then with Marc Antony were pivotal moments, and one wonders how the Roman Empire - and indeed Egyptian civilisation - may have turned out if events had taken a different course, and if Antony and Cleopatra had been victorious.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Flourish - thank you so much for commenting -Cleo was quite a girl wasn't she? She knew how to party. Best wishes...

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      What a smart, sassy piece. I also like those quotes attributed to her. Well done!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Michelle - with many thanks again - glad you approve!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Sharing this again, Travmaj!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Nell Rose - I guess if Cleo was around didn't like my poem I'd be history.

      So much power and ruthless with it - she knew how to conquer in war and in romance.

      Astounding how much she packed into her few years.

      Thanks Nell Rose - all best...

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Hello Valley - my thanks once again. This began at a Writer's festival where I was presented with the Cleo pic and my task was to write a humorous take on it. Hah. I've tweaked it a little since then. It's sort of poetry!

      I've also realised what a remarkable woman Cleopatra was.

      Happy Spring days to you - envy - autumn here and dark and chilly.

      Cheers Valley

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      pickles and rufus - happy you stopped by - I agree - I gleaned a lot more knowledge on Cleopatra than I knew before - - she's captivating.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      liesl5858 - hello again - thank you so much for your lovely comments. Glad you stopped by to visit Cleopatra with me.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      lol! yes I am sure she would have loved your poem! Cloepatra was an amazing character, I remember seeing the film and the series too. These women in history certainly knew how to use their power, that's why they are still so popular to read about today, have a great day, nell

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      janetwrites - I'm really pleased you enjoyed my take on Cleopatra - what a woman! What a life. And she's still being written about. Thanks again Janet.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Hi Michelle - hello and thanks again - yes, 'stay away from asps' might have been good advice. Clearly though, Cleopatra chose her own path - and what a journey! Best...

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Vellur - thank you for such a great comment and vote - Cleopatra does capture the imagination

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      thost - thank you for such a great comment - glad you enjoyed Cleopatra

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 5 years ago

      I have missed your poetry Maj..but this was worth the interesting theme, with your sprinkling of humour..very nicely done. You have a real eye for an interesting, and perhaps obscure story...I wonder if Cleopatra did retrieve the ring later? LOL...another gem Maj..great work, and best Spring wishes to you:-))

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Well I learned something new today. Thanks for a very interesting hub!

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi! travmaj, another interesting hub, you always have an interesting hub which I like reading. Well done.

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 5 years ago from Georgia country

      travmaj, I'm really impressed by your awesome hub. I have never seen such an interesting, entertaining and diverse presentation about Cleo before. I loved the way you put up everything - the wonderful poem, the nice pictures, the quotes and the historical background.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      That asp certainly did her in. Unique recall of Cleopatra's death...history...wonderfully written! Sharing!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Colin and lovely feline companions in Lake Erie - thank you so much. You flatter me and I have to admit - I definitely approve.

      Thank you very much for such enthusiastic comments and I'm glad you enjoyed a few moments with me and Cleopatra - what a woman - what a life. If only...

      Guess we all experience pain in the asp now and then.

      Cheers from down under - Sat - 6-23 pm

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Mystic M - Thank you and glad I made you smile -I like that quote - he'd be on his best behaviour or look out.Don't think you'd mess with Cleopatra.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      kidscraft - thank you. for being here. Yes, just thinking about her life makes me exhausted. Such energy. I like the poisoning quote too.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Jools thank you - appreciate your commenting. Cleo had it all and more it seems. What a girl!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      WNDogs - Thank you for commenting - glad you saw the fun side too. Best to you and those lovely helpers at your place.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      phoenix - thanks for being here - I agree totally, Cleo is a superstar - if only she knew. The media would rave -

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Beautifully expressed. Great work, history in the form of a poem. Voted up.

    • thost profile image

      thost 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      A very interesting piece that kept me reading to the end, well done. Thank you

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. Thanks for this incredible look into Cleopatra's life. Loved it and the pics. Passing this on.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      Oh my , oh my , what a hall of fame hub this is !!! And the most definitive, sexy, and essential Cleopatra hub of all time.

      Love the opening sassy poem with verve, nerve and swerve. Yahoo, you rock my world big time!!!!

      Just home from night shift at 5:49am lake erie time to one of the best hubs I've seen/read in quite some time - and yes Cleo's snake bite was a real pain in the asp. lol

      Sending you high fives and lots of respect and admiration from Colin and his pussycats

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Annie (bac2) Great to have you call in and have a laugh with me and Cleo - what a woman eh? Yes - all well down here - hope all is good in your corner Annie - Best...

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Hi Graham - love your comment - made me laugh - pearl of wisdom indeed. Perfect! Thank you.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      thruthfornow - thank you so much for stopping by and commenting - really appreciate it.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Annie - good to see you here and I'm pleased you enjoyed visiting Cleo - she certainly made her mark on the world. Thanks again

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 5 years ago from australia

      Theater Girl - thank you so much for being here - appreciate it - yes, certainly tongue in cheek - deliberately of course. Thanks again -

    • profile image

      MysticMoonlight 5 years ago

      Love this Hub! Voted! My favorite was the quote about her ability to have poisioned him had she been able to live without him! Ha!

      I really enjoyed this, hope you are well, thanks for bringing a smile to my face today :)

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Cleopatra was quite a lady for sure! She knew how to live! Great funny poem Travmaj!

      Interesting quotes... especially about poisoning a hundred times!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Loved this! Cleopatra - certainly a girl for the big occasion!

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      What a fantastic hub this is. Funny, interesting, informative. Great work.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I enjoy reading about Cleopatra. It's as you say, she's an engaging character who can still draw fans thousands of years after her death. Now that's a superstar.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi Maj. I laughed when I read the bit about the lowly person not winning the lottery. Interesting hub and I also liked the mix. Hope you are well Maj :)

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      A first class hub Maj, very informative. Overall a pearl of wisdom.


    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Loved the fact that your poem was mixed into a little historical fact.

    • Annie Miller profile image

      Annie Miller 5 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

      What an entertaining concept ... I really enjoyed your poetry and the interesting historical references.

    • Theater girl profile image

      Jennifer 5 years ago from New Jersey

      What an interesting piece of work! I love the tongue in cheek quality to it!


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