Was Cleopatra a blonde or brunette?

April 9, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Celebrities

There is just as much reason for supposing that Cleopatra was a blonde as there is for supposing that she was a brunette. According to the popu­lar conception, she was a decided brunette, with dark skin, dark eyes and dark hair, and she is frequently referred to as the “dark queen of Egypt.” But historical sources supply us with no evidence as to her actual com­plexion.

It should be borne in mind that Cleopatra was Greek by an­cestry, and Egyptian only by birth. So far as known she did not have a single drop of Egyptian blood in her veins. The name Cleopatra itself was from Greek mythology, that being the name of one of the two daughters of Boreas, god of the north wind, by Orithyia, daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens.

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt married their sisters, daughters and nieces, and the god Osiris and his wife Isis were brother and sister. This practice was adopted by the Greek Ptolemies and the men for generation after generation married close kinswomen. More than a dozen rulers of Egypt were the offspring of intermarriages of this type.

The Ptolemies, it is supposed, remained pure Macedonian Greeks, and their capital, Alexandria, was the center of Greek rather than Egyptian culture. They even dressed as Greeks except on certain cere­monial occasions.

Therefore Cleopatra was probably a Macedonian type, and the dark skin and black hair of the native Egyptian afford no clue as to her complexion. Many Greeks were dark-complexioned, but among the Macedonians white skin, fair hair and blue eyes were not uncommon, and one of Cleopatra’s ancestors, Ptolemy Philadelphus, is described by Theocritus as having light hair and fair complexion.

When the American actress Jane Cowl played the role of Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s tragedy entitled Antony and Cleopatra, she portrayed the Egyptian queen with red hair. Shakespeare himself alluded to Cleopatra as tawny. She was descended from brother and sister marriages for at least four generations and she herself married two of her own brothers.

 

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