Egyptian View-Point By
By Adel Murad
Cleopatra's Mystery Lives On
A Roman Bust of Cleopatra
Reports of Cleopatra's beauty are apparently exaggerated, according to articles published in the British media. On the occasion of her exhibition this month in the British Museum in London, some reports in the media would have us believe that Cleopatra was hook-nosed, dumpy and had bad teeth!
A report in a "quality" publication said that "Cleopatra, the queen of ancient Egypt who seduced Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony with her supposedly irresistible beauty, has been revealed as short, frumpish and in need of a good dentist.. eleven statues show the queen as plain looking with a streak of sterness, and (she) appears to be plump".
Yet, throughout the lengthy reports, no hard evidence was given for the ugly cartoons published supposedly depicting the legendary queen. Furthermore, no explanation has been given for her magical influence and ability to seduce the most powerful men of her time. Her charm was attributed only to strength of character and mental charisma.
Even the statues on display and the coins carrying Cleopatra's head show a royal looking image with firm features and wide eyes. There may be a slight exaggeration of the nose proportion in one of the statues, but the coin illustrates a fine pointed nose, in good proportion to the face. Cleopatra was certainly not ugly.
Unless it is a publicity stunt for the exhibition, no self-respecting Egyptologist would take such descriptions of Cleopatra seriously. Even the curators of the British Museum admit that very few portraits of the queen survived, and they are anything but consistent. The evidence of contemporary description of Cleopatra was discounted out of hand, in these reports, because the writers, such as Cicero, were born a few years after Cleopatra's death. There was mention of her irresistible charm, her seductive voice and eloquent speech. Cicero wrote in the first century BC:
"Her character, which pervaded her actions in an inexplicable way when meeting people, was utterly spellbinding. The sound of her voice was sweet when she talked".
The evidence given for being fat, is also flimsy. Her ancestors were believed to suffer from weight problems! There is also no evidence of Cleopatra being only 5 ft. tall, except a description in a recent catalogue that she was "petite". As for the alleged teeth problem, that was attributed to "eating the awful Egyptian bread"! In the same report, the ancient queen was described as "taking care of herself. Her diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as fish and meat, was healthily balanced". This apparent contradiction was not explained by the writer.
The issue of Cleopatra's beauty is beyond doubt. The love of two powerful men of her era testified to that. Caesar went as far as putting up a golden statue of Cleopatra in the Temple of Venus in Rome, making her the first living human to share a temple with a Roman God - a frank recognition of her divinity and beauty by Caesar himself.
Greetings in Arabic
There are many expressions of greetings in Arabic (Egyptian dialect), which vary according to the occasion. Arabic is more formal than English but it is also warm with rich expressions of sincere feelings. These are some of these greetings:
(For formal occasions, the following greeting can be said to men and women alike, to individuals and groups):
.wa 'aleykum as-salam
ahlan wa sahlan
ahlan bik (to a man)
ahlan biki (to a woman)
ahlan bikum (to a group)
Other variations can be heard such as a repeat of the same statement, ahlan wa sahlan or marhab (a synonym for welcome)
Pleased to meet you
How are you
tisbaH 'ala kheir (to a man)
tisbaHi 'ala kheir (to a woman)
tisbaHu 'ala kheir (to a group)
wenta bikheir (to a man)
wenti bikheir (to a woman)
wentum bikheir (to a group)
izzayak? (to a man)
izzayik? (to a woman)
izzayukum? (to a group)
il Hamdu lilah or, alhamdulillah
Dawam il Haal min al muHaal:
It is impossible for things to remain constant. Used to denote change of fortunes and inevitability of change.
"It is our pleasure to receive every tourist in Egypt as an honoured guest and a VIP", Minister of Tourism in a recent German tourist trade show.
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Last Updated: August 21st, 2011