Greeks routinely travelled over to Egypt to see its splendours for themselves, but the two cultures were also drawn together in mutual defence against the Assyrian empire as it expanded west from the region of modern Iran. They revived ancient titles and rituals, created exact replicas of ancient tomb scenes and restored ancient monuments, even the pyramids and the fabled monarchs buried within. Such face-to-face contact with long-dead predecessors clearly inspired the Saites as they transformed mummification practices for both humans and animals.
Yet links with Greek culture remained strong, particularly under the Saite king Amasis. Within this great city at the apex of the Delta Amasis extended the great temple of the creator god, Ptah. Amasis also embellished his home town of Sais, where the tombs of his dynasty were built within the temple complex of Neith, the creator goddess. Worshipped as mother of the sun, who had created the world with her laughter and could at any time destroy it with her ear-splitting voice, Neith was also worshipped at the Greek trading settlement of Naukratis, where her cult received 10 per cent of all goods coming into Egypt via the only officially sanctioned route from abroad.
Not only the centre of trade with a monopoly on Greek imports, Naukratis was also a magnet for foreign visitors. Some of the biggest names in Greek history travelled to Egypt to learn something of its fabled wisdom. They included statesmen such as the Athenian lawgiver Solon and the Spartan Lycurgus, the literary giants Pindar and Euripedes, and the philosophers Pythagoras, Eudoxos, Plato and Anaxagoras, the last-named particularly interested in the phenomenon of the annual Nile flood.
Stressing such antiquity to imply cultural superiority, the priests at Sais even told one Athenian politician that he and his countrymen were merely children since their own history was so short. On occasion these even included Egypt, whose mystique had been undermined by long-term familiarity, although there remained the need for mutual support against a common enemy. Military garrisons were installed as far south as Elephantine, and with the Saite canal between the Nile and Red Sea reopened and camels used in increasing numbers, trade and communications were greatly enhanced.
Although Persia also took over Greek colonies in Asia Minor, the city-state of Athens pulled off an amazing victory at the battle of Marathon in BC and, despite their city being sacked in a revenge attack, struck back to defeat the Persians soundly by land and sea. The Greeks then assisted Egypt to throw out its Persian occupiers, as commemorated by the Egyptians in Homeric-style battle epics, but the Persians soon came back. With the Greeks embroiled in their own internal conflicts as Athens and Sparta slugged it out during the Peloponnesian War of BC, an isolated Egypt slipped back under Persian control and suffered serious cultural decline until renewed Greek help once this war was over gave the Delta courage to rise again.
The cities of Sais and Mendes declared independence, fighting off Persian attacks with assistance from Athenian forces headed by the Greek general Chabrias. In BC a real renaissance began when the Egyptian general Nakhtnebef — better known by his Greek name, Nectanebo — proclaimed himself pharaoh BC.
From its base at the Delta town of Sebennytos this last native dynasty restored national pride, revived ancient art forms, built an astonishing number of temples and promoted the cults of the sacred animals headed by the Apis bull of Memphis.
And although the Persians invaded again in BC, they were defeated once again. Nectanebo I was distinctly pro-Greek and, having married a Greek woman named Ptolemais, a relative of Chabrias, produced a daughter sufficiently powerful to be sent as his representative heading an expedition south to Akhmim to obtain new sources of building stone. Yet for all this ritual protection, the legendary Nectanebo II was finally defeated in BC and Egypt taken back into the Persian empire.
Cities such as Heliopolis and Mendes were destroyed, along with the tombs of the kings who had rebelled against Persian rule, and many members of the ruling classes were deported to Persia. Nectanebo himself managed to flee south into Nubia, although it was rumoured that at some stage during his reign he had also sailed to northern Greece.
Having predicted that the Macedonian queen Olympias would soon give birth to the son of Zeus, greatest of the gods of Greece, Nectanebo then donned the mask of the god and himself fathered her child, which was very much in the Egyptian tradition of divine conception legends. The myth also neatly claimed the child, whom she named Alexander, to be the successor of the last native pharaoh.
Despite the harshness of their regime, the Persians remained in Egypt for little more than a decade before Alexander himself arrived in Egypt in BC to claim his fabled birthright. Welcomed as a saviour and the rightful heir of Nectanebo II by a populace desperate to be rid of the hated Persians, he initiated three centuries of Greek rule which would culminate in the extraordinary figure of Cleopatra herself.
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And it was quite an ancestry. At least thirty-three Cleopatras are known from ancient times, and with the origins of her famous name rooted in myth and the forces of nature, the first Cleopatra was daughter of the North Wind Boreas. Considered to exist at the very edge of the civilized world, both geographically and culturally, the Macedonians originated in the northernmost part of Greece, close to the lands of Scythia and Thrace where tattooed warriors still collected severed heads.
Over the next century nine kings ruled over a volatile Macedonia until Archelaos BC brought a degree of stability and moved his capital from Aegae to Pella on the Aegean for much-needed access to the sea. As Pella became a cosmopolitan royal capital, its marble palace embellished with murals and mosaics created by Athenian craftsmen, Archelaos invited the greatest minds of the age to his court.
Although the Athenian philosopher Socrates turned down the offer, those who did accept royal patronage included the poet Pindar, Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, and the leading dramatist Euripides, whose great masterpiece the Bacchae was inspired by his new home and its bloody history.
Cleopatra The Great: The Woman Behind The Legend
After eliminating other rivals to the throne in time-honoured fashion, Philip II BC decisively crushed the Illyrians and embarked on years of campaigning which resulted in the loss of his right eye, a maimed arm and crippled leg. Yet it transformed Macedonia from a feuding, feudal kingdom into a world superpower. He also found time for a most complicated bisexual love life, including a youthful fling with his second cousin Arsinoe and no fewer than seven wives. The most famous of these was Myrtale of Epirus modern Albania , first encountered during nocturnal fertility rites on the windswept island of Samothrace and at marriage given the Macedonian name Olympias to reflect the divine landscape of her new home.
Able to trace her own ancestry back to the sea goddess Thetis, mother of the Greek superhero Achilles, Olympias paid particular respect to Zeus and his son Dionysos, god of wine and embodiment of vitality. These included a son, Philip Arrhidaios, born to his third wife, and a daughter, Cynane, who fought alongside her father, born to the second. Born in July BC on the same day that the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus burned down, since the goddess was apparently away assisting at his birth, Alexander was already in military training by the age of seven and had gained his first experience of battle at fourteen.
As a bibliophile well versed in history, even as a child Alexander had an understanding of cultures far beyond the Greek world. A shared fascination with scientific exploration was reflected in the specimens of flora and fauna the prince sent back to his old tutor when on campaign. In BC Philip appointed the sixteen-year-old Alexander regent.
After forces commanded by the teenager put down a Thracian rising, father and son fought together to unite the rest of Greece in preparation for a war against the traditional enemy, Persia. An Anti-Macedonian League was set up, ironically financed by the old enemy, Persia. Yet Philip soon defeated the League and secured their support against Persia in return for the release of Athenian prisoners. This had so enraged Alexander he had started a fight, then left court with his mother for Epirus where her brother was king. When the offer was accepted, things were sufficiently secure at home to allow Philip to send an advance force over to Asia Minor, and ask the Oracle at Delphi if he would conquer the Persian king.
All is done. In fact the one to be sacrificed was Philip himself. As guests gathered at Aegae in the hot summer of BC to witness uncle marry niece Philip was cut down by the captain of his bodyguard, who in turn was speared through by his fellow guards. Although some believed he had acted alone to avenge a personal grudge, others felt that Olympias must have initiated the murder to free the throne for her son.
Certainly it seems more than suspicious that the plot had been so widely known that the orator Demosthenes was able to announce the news in faraway Athens almost as it happened. As word of the assassination spread rapidly, it became imperative to elect a new king. At his funeral, which according to Macedonian tradition was led by his son, the new king, Philip was cremated.
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His remains were then collected up and placed in a gold larnax chest decorated with the star of the Macedonian house, to be buried with lavish funerary goods in the royal necropolis at Aegae. Although the Assembly spared Eurydike herself, she and her child were killed on the orders of Olympias — who had them roasted alive if later accounts are to be believed.
On the contrary, it was said that as a boy he had shown an attractive disposition and displayed much promise, but Olympias was believed to have given him drugs which impaired the functions of his body and irreparably injured his brain. With his position established at home, Alexander turned his attentions to securing the rest of Greece, where many cities refused to acknowledge him until he arrived at their gates with the Macedonian army. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join.
Save For Later. Create a List. Joann Fletcher. Summary World-Renowned Egyptologist Dr. Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Book Preview Cleopatra the Great - Dr. Joann Fletcher Credits Copyright About the Publisher Maps Introduction As the most famous woman in ancient history, Cleopatra is intimately associated with ancient Egypt and is perhaps its best-known monarch.
Start your free 30 days. Page 1 of 1. Close Dialog Are you sure? Also remove everything in this list from your library. Are you sure you want to delete this list? Cleopatra the Great tells the story of a turbulent time and the extraordinary woman at its centre. She was Greek by descent — the last, and greatest, Egyptian pharaoh. But our understanding of her has been obscured by Roman propaganda, Shakespearean tragedy and Hollywood, with little attempt to tell her true story — until now. In the first biography for over thirty years, Joann Fletcher draws on a wealth of overlooked detail and the latest research to reveal Cleopatra as she truly was, from her first meeting with Julius Caesar to her legendary death by snakebite.
Joann Fletcher discovers the real woman behind the myth. The writing was a bit rough at times - with too much reliance on "no doubt" and other phrases that ironically show doubt - I felt like a got a fairly good picture of Cleopatra from this biography. The writing also spends WAY too much space describing feasts.
It seemed like a couple of bios on Cleopatra came out around the same time and I had never thought much about reading one even as much as I like biographies. I ran across an article that talked about