- Books, Literature, and Writing
Nice One Cleo or Don't Be an Asp.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.