Cleopatra VII: How Modernity Altered One of Egypt's Most Infamous Pharaohs

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Authors
Newbury, Isabeau
Advisor
Fregulia, Jeanette
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Date of Issue
2021
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Title
Cleopatra VII: How Modernity Altered One of Egypt's Most Infamous Pharaohs
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Abstract
In the course of history, many people are fascinated by the “other” but this fascination stems from works that are not factual depictions of an event or person. If the personification of historical figures is continuously perpetuated in fictional works, how we interpret the evidence can then be affected by these works. This is especially true of the ancient women in power in Ancient Egypt, but specifically in the case of Cleopatra VII, who was the last Pharaoh of Egypt. This study is designed to look at how desire vs fact changes the narrative, and how we need to be cautious about exotifying the “other.” Cleopatra VII’s image in modernity has been shaped by her portrayal in Shakespeare and Dante, as well as in Renaissance and contemporary artwork (including film). By keeping this in mind, it is not wrong to be fascinated by the “other” but it raises the question of how much of a historical person’s character can we really know if the facts we perceive to be true are affected by fictional manipulations of them.
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History