The Sex Life of Cleopatra Comes Under The Spotlight

Published June 11th, 2020 - 07:02 GMT
3d computer graphics of an ancient Egyptian lady and a tame cheetah. (Shutterstock/ File Photo)
3d computer graphics of an ancient Egyptian lady and a tame cheetah. (Shutterstock/ File Photo)
Cleopatra killed herself in 30BC after being captured by Roman leader Octavian.

Archaeologists searching for the tomb of Cleopatra - Egypt's last pharaoh - believe they may have found the site where she was buried. 

Dr. Kathleen Martinez, an academic from the Dominican Republic, is leading a dig at Taposiris Magna, a temple located near the ancient Egyptian capital of Alexandria.

She believes Cleopatra and her Roman lover Mark Anthony may have been buried at the site 2000 years ago because of her desire to imitate an ancient prophecy.

Now, a new TV show entitled Cleopatra: Sex, Lies and Secrets will examine that possibility along with what has been unearthed at the site so far. 

During her life, which ran from 69BC to 30BC, Cleopatra was known both as a seductress and as a captivating personality.

She famously used her charms to first seduce Julius Caesar to cement Egypt's alliance with Rome, and then to seduce one of his successors, Mark Anthony.

In order to fix herself and Anthony as rulers in the minds of the Egyptian people, she also worked hard to associate them with the myth of Isis and Osiris - a story that tells of a benevolent couple who ruled Egypt before being betrayed.

According to the myth, Osiris was killed and hacked into pieces that were scattered across Egypt. After finding all of the pieces and making her husband whole again, Isis was able to resurrect him for a time.

Martinez believes Taposiris Magna was closely associated with the myth - pointing to the temple's name and suggesting that the inclusion of 'Osiris' could mean it was one of the places where his body was scattered in the story.

Martinez theorises that, after Mark Anthony killed himself following defeat to Octavian but before her own suicide, Cleopatra put detailed plans in place for them both to be buried there, in echoes of the myth.

She previously told National Geographic: 'Cleopatra negotiated with Octavian to allow her to bury Mark Antony in Egypt. 

'She wanted to be buried with him because she wanted to reenact the legend of Isis and Osiris. 


'The true meaning of the cult of Osiris is that it grants immortality. After their deaths, the gods would allow Cleopatra to live with Antony in another form of existence, so they would have eternal life together.'

Martinez has been excavating the site since 2005, and has unearthed an undisturbed tomb decorated in gold leaf which may hold some clues as to Cleopatra's final resting place.

Doubts have been cast on the theory, however, as other experts believe Cleopatra was hastily buried in Alexandria itself - the city from where she ruled Egypt until her death, believed to have been caused by snake venom.

Much of the ancient capital is now underwater, and attempts to locate a tomb there have also proved fruitless.

Cleopatra, often known as the world's first celebrity, was the last of a long line to Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt - descended from Greek general Alexander the Great.

By the time of her birth his empire had been reduced to a shadow of its former self, while the ruling class was prone to bitter in-fighting.

Married to her brother Ptolemy XIII in her father's will, she united with Julius Caesar against him - famously having herself smuggled to see the Roman general inside a carpet so she could strike terms with him.

After his murder in 44BC Egypt, Mark Anthony was appointed to oversee the eastern reaches of the Republic - including the independent kingdom of Egypt.

Though married to Octavian's sister, Anthony formed a relationship with Cleopatra and had three children with her.

Eventually Anthony and Octavian turned against one-another and fought for control of the Republic, which ended with defeat at the Battle of Actium.

Octavian chased Anthony and Cleopatra back to Alexandria, where they were eventually captured.

Anthony died in Cleopatra's arms after fatally stabbing himself, before she also committed suicide - reportedly by letting an asp bite her.

Octavian returned to Italy where he became the first Emperor of Rome, while Cleopatra and Anthony were buried in Egypt.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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