Anniversary Post: Cleopatra’s Suicide

CleopatraOn this day in 30 BCE, Cleopatra killed herself. I must admit to having always thought of her as more or less mythical — like Helen. Her life has been so fictionalized that I didn’t imagine that there was much of a core there. But there is. And it is quite amazing. She was a remarkable woman. And I assume very clever. She really did manage her power well. The fact that it all ended rather badly is no fault of hers.

She was probably just too young to successfully navigate her relationship with Julius Caesar. And her bet on Mark Antony was a solid one. What’s a woman to do? None of this is to suggest that she wasn’t also a psychopath. But that is generally what I think of all such rulers. One does not live in a world in which people think that God gave them the right to rule over all others without also being insane by modern standards. Cleopatra had no trouble killing anyone who she thought posed a threat to her.

As to the sanity of modern people, I don’t think much more highly. In particular, emperors of old were deluded about their places in the cosmos. But most people I know are equally deluded about their lesser places. Everyone takes joy in all the things that make them them — as if it were their own doing rather than a gift. I’m certain that if we ever figure out consciousness, what we will learn is that we are just machines and our sense of self nothing but a trick.

And I guess that means that Cleopatra wasn’t really remarkable; she was just what she was programmed to be. But it’s interesting to my pre-programmed mind.

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