Was Cleopatra a Medieval Queen?

It appears, today we have this image of Cleopatra, the ancient Egyptian queen, ingrained in our minds. In my previous opinion Cleopatra was a strikingly beautiful woman, who looked what an ancient Egyptian woman was supposed to look like. And of course, Cleopatra related movies contributed to this impression, which at this very moment appears to be highly questionable.



While going over some of the ancient Roman stuff, I started seeing paintings dated with 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries where Cleopatra looked nothing like what we are used to today. For me those early images mean that some 500 years ago, there was a totally different understanding of certain events and historical circumstances. Below are a few examples of those paintings and etchings.

15th century art


16th century art

17th century art


Cleopatra and the Asp_3.jpg

18th century art

Giovanni_Battista_Tiepolo_The Banquet of Cleopatra.jpg

Here we run into the 19th century, and Cleopatra, all over sudden, starts gaining her contemporary appearance. I'm not going to link the images to the source. You can easily google the 19th century Cleopatra paintings.


brigdman_cleopatra_philae.jpg Cleopatra_holds_the_dead_Antony.jpg gerome_cleopatra_caesar.jpg rixens_death_cleopatra.jpg The_Death_of_Cleopatra.jpg

* * * And there you go. In the 21st century we end up with her * * *

Cleopatra: 21st century


Compare to: 15th century Cleo
Mark Antony and Cleopatra

Of course, we could go the beaten path of our dogmatic historians. They would most likely say that in the 15th century people only had texts, and were unable to fully understand the cultural specifics of the ancient Egyptians. Or, we could come up with a few additional explanations aimed at burying the issue within some pseudo-scientific gibberish language.

KD summary: I keep on looking at this image (above) of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, thinking that we got duped one more time. We have to be delusional to think that in 2018 we know better than people knew in 1403. And by the looks of it, those artists had a very different idea of what Cleopatra looked like some 600 years ago.


Could it be that "antiquity" is not something which took place 2000 years ago, but rather was a time frame fairly contemporary to some of the above paintings and etchings? If we consider the possibility of Pompeii getting buried in 1631, and this bizarre 15th century emergence of the ancient statues... who's there to say (besides the officials) that Cleopatra was not some 14th century queen?

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