Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cleopatra and the Scary Snake Mystery

Being that it's April Fools' Day, it seems only fitting to debunk some myths about the way some famous people died. Mama Cass by way of a sandwich? Hardly. How about Cleopatra? That thing about the snake...is it true?

Popular lore holds that in Cleopatra's last moments, the distraught queen -- who had just lost her kingdom and learned of her lover's demise -- smuggled a poisonous snake into her locked chamber and died, along with two ladies-in-waiting, of a self-inflicted snake bite.

Such a scenario is next to impossible, according to Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley, who shatters the "snakebite suicide" myth in her new book, Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt, just published in Europe and slated for an upcoming U.S. release. "It seems to me that the snake theory is just too difficult to sustain, as it leaves too many loopholes," Tyldesley said.

Tyldesley acknowledges that portion sof the story are likely to be true, but there are other ways that Cleopatra could have committed suicide if that was her intention. The myth probably got started because Cleopatra died without a prior illness.

So how did Cleopatra really die? There are other theories. Some say it was self-administered poison; others believe that she was murdered by Octavian.

Popular legend also states that in 31 BC when she saw that Mark Antony's poorly equipped and manned ships were losing to the Romans' superior vessels, Cleopatra took flight and that Antony followed her. We can't help but wonder if this flight led to this contemporary retelling of the historic event

[Phoenix New Times]
[Discovery News]

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