Legacy of Cleopatra (O legado de Cleópatra)

Hey everyone! Welcome to the Berlitz podcast, where we take a deep dive into English learning. Today's episode of histórias em inglês is a bit different - we're going to immerse ourselves completely in English for a full episode to help you improve your listening skills.

Today we will travel to an intriguing and conflict-filled past, the past of a Queen and Warrior who, with her wisdom, knew how to rule her lands during a turbulent period in the history of humanity.

Let's talk about Cleopatra, the last queen of Ancient Egypt. Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last queen of Ancient Egypt, ruled during a tumultuous period in history marked by the rise of the Roman Empire and the decline of Hellenistic power in the region.

To give you some context, the Ptolemaic culture was quite complex, with both Greek and Egyptian influences. The Ptolemies adopted many Egyptian customs and traditions, such as worshiping Egyptian gods and building temples, but Greek became the official language of the kingdom.

Born in 69 BC, Cleopatra was a descendant of the Ptolemaic dynasty founded by Ptolemy, a general of Alexander the Great, after the death of the famous conqueror.

After her father's death in 51 BC, the young Cleopatra ascended to the throne at the age of 18. 

At that time, it was uncommon for a woman to be in power, so she faced many challenges to consolidate her position as queen. Her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, also claimed the throne, making things even more difficult.

Educated in both Greek and Egyptian cultures, she mastered several languages, including Greek, Latin, and Ancient Egyptian. She was a cultured woman and prepared to rule.

The Roman Republic (A República Romana)

Being astute and aiming to strengthen her power, Cleopatra used her strong diplomatic skills to negotiate with the Roman Republic and thus allied herself with the conqueror Julius Caesar, one of the most powerful leaders of Rome who was in Egypt.

Their relationship was not simple, as it was based on mutual interest and the strengthening of their goals, but together they had a son named Caesarion. This relationship was a scandal in Rome, however, it was through it that Cleopatra gained great influence in Roman politics, further strengthening herself as queen of Egypt.

There is even a story that Cleopatra rolled herself up in a carpet to present herself to Caesar, thus avoiding capture by his guards.

This relationship was essential for her to rise further. It was then that in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Roman senators leaving Cleopatra in a more vulnerable governing situation.

Even with Caesar's departure, she did not stop her plans to strengthen her government, engaging in diplomatic negotiations with Rome to ensure Egypt's independence.

That's how she made an alliance that echoed through history with Mark Antony. Together, they challenged the power of Octavian, another Roman leader who aimed for absolute power over all peoples and nations. This challenge led to a Roman civil war that later gave rise to the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

At the Battle of Actium, Octavian managed to defeat Cleopatra and Mark Antony, giving rise to the Roman Empire.

The Cleopatra's death (A Morte de Cleópatra)

According to historians, to avoid being humiliated or taken prisoner of war, Cleopatra chose to take her own life in 30 BC when she was 39. It was from her death that Ptolemaic Egypt came to an end, giving rise to the Roman conquest in the region.

Cleopatra was certainly one of the most fascinating figures in world history, leaving a lasting legacy. Her recognition is still great to this day and her story has inspired dozens of artists and writers for centuries.

It is important to remember that Cleopatra defended her kingdom and her culture during an imminent conquest of her people. For this reason, she is well known as a symbol of resistance against the Roman Empire.

During her reign, she was known as the patron of poets who contributed to the revival of Egyptian culture. In addition, as an heir to the Egyptian pharaohs, with her fortune, she financed the construction of temples and the translation of sacred texts from Ancient Egyptian to Greek as a way of preserving the language and customs.

This was so strong that Cleopatra was often shown as a divine figure, and she came to be worshiped as a new goddess Isis for her intelligence and refinement.

With Cleopatra's death, Egypt became a Roman province, losing its independence and political autonomy. Gradually, Egyptian culture was assimilated into Roman culture and the Egyptian language ceased to be used over time.

Even so, some Egyptians resisted the Roman domination and revolts appeared throughout the years but were repressed.

Interestingly, the image of a seductive Cleopatra, capable of manipulating powerful men with her charms, is very common in popular culture, especially Western culture. This view of her can be seen in plays like "Antony and Cleopatra" written by the famous William Shakespeare.

Several films also portray Cleopatra's various facets, like the 1963 movie of her name starring the famous actress Elizabeth Taylor, or "Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra" from 2002, with actress Monica Bellucci.

The way we perceive Cleopatra is shaped by the available historical sources, mainly Roman texts that portrayed her as an enemy of the state. Therefore, Cleopatra's image has undergone several transformations throughout the centuries, from a fatal seductress to a queen symbolizing resistance. There are many myths surrounding the queen's story.

One such myth is that she possessed unparalleled beauty, although there are no reliable historical records of her actual physical appearance. Additionally, even though she was an Egyptian queen, she was a descendant of Greeks and Macedonians, and did not have Egyptian blood.

Ultimately, what we can say for sure is that Cleopatra has a fascinating story that will always resonate throughout human history.

The End of an Empire (O fim de um império)

So, what did you think about the story of Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt? I hope you enjoyed everything I told you.

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See you next episode with more history, fun facts, and of course, lots of English! Until then!