Cleopatra has often been portrayed as an exotic temptress, who seduced both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Even her death is spectacular: poisoned by the self-administered bite of an asp, after she had lost everything to the new Roman regime. This talk examines portrayals of Cleopatra in cinema and art, and consider how she was depicted in antiquity, largely by hostile Greek and Roman sources. These frame her as dangerous, even monstrous, but also as an intelligent and shrewd leader of a disputed kingdom. What does this tell us about the ‘real’ Cleopatra, last of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt? How she might have portrayed herself. And what would have happened if she and Antony had won?
Presented by Dr Rhiannon Evans is Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at La Trobe University, where she teaches Latin and Ancient Roman culture. Rhiannon is interested in Roman literature of the first centuries BCE and CE, and is currently working on Julius Caesar’s account of the conquest of Gaul. She has published a book on the Golden Age and Utopianism in Roman literature.