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20170315 Culture Express

Culture Express

拟播时间:2017.3.15  写稿:周启航   一审:田婧 二审:陈扬扬   播音:田婧、周启航   剪辑:周启航

Cleopatra

D: Hello and welcome to today’s Culture Express. I’m Dionysus.

R: And I’m Rachel. What do you know about Cleopatra, Dionysus?

D: Well, she was the queen of Egypt…quite a long time ago.

R: Anything else?

D: Didn’t she arrive for a meeting with Roman Emperor Julius Caesar rolled up in a carpet? Or is that just a Hollywood invention?

R: Some historical sources say that she was rolled up in a carpet – and others say that she was hidden up inside a linen sack. Cleopatra is the subject of today’s show. She was the last pharaoh to rule Egypt and is arguably the most famous female ruler in history.

D: And the most beautiful.

R: Well, the jury’s out on that one, Dionysus – and that means people haven’t decided yet. Coins with Cleopatra’s portrait on them, for example, show her a prominent nose and thin lips.

D: Prominent means noticeable – and in this case, I think it means large! So what were her attributes, or main characters and qualities, then?

R: Cleopatra was a wily politician. She made important alliances with Rome to protect her country and was ruthless in dealing with her enemies, in which case her siblings who challenged her as sole ruler of Egypt.

D: Wily means clever. Didn’t she have her siblings murdered?

R: Yes, she was very ruthless – and that means without pity. She may not have been Hollywood gorgeous, but she spoke many languages and was highly educated in philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and oratory.

D: According to what the Roman historian Plutarch wrote, what was really remarkable about Cleopatra was not so much her beauty as the intelligence of her company. She had a very beautiful voice and clearly masses of charisma; the sort of person who would light up a room; so, enormous personal charm.

R: Egyptian pharaohs were regarded as gods – and spectacle, or making a big visual impact, was an important part of this. Cleopatra was very skilled at making grand entrances.

D: Rolled up in a carpet for Caesar, or dressed up as Venus on board a shimmering golden barge, for Mark Anthony. He was a Roman politician and general.

R: And even her death was spectacular. She and Mark Anthony had lost an important battle against another Roman general, Octavian. Mark Anthony had fatally wounded himself when he heard, mistakenly, that Cleopatra was dead. But before he died, he managed to get back to Cleopatra, who held him in her arms as he died, in her family tomb. Then she decided to take her own life.

D: You make it sounds like a Shakespearian tragedy!

R: Shakespeare did write a play about it. According to Catherine Edwards, Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London, the facts surrounding Cleopatra's suicide aren't clear.

D: She may have used a snake to bite her, smuggled into her room in a basket of fruit but it may have been a poisoned hairpin – or simply a cup of poison. But she did it in a calculated way.

R: OK, so the final curtain comes down on Cleopatra. But here’s more something about her family. Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Macedonian Greek origin that ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great.

D: And that’s the end of today’s Culture Express.

R: Don’t forget to join us soon.

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