Of all the women distorted by history and myth, Kleopatra is the most vivid example. Far from the sexual and treacherous archetype of feminine evil who lives in the popular imagination, Kleopatra was one of the ancient world’s most brilliant and powerful rulers. She survived blood-curdling family rivalries for the throne, single-handedly ruled a rich nation with an eye for turning a profit, and kept Egypt independent while all its neighboring countries had been annexed to the Roman Empire. She spoke nine or ten languages, patronized art, drama, athletics, sciences and other forms of scholarship, and had the loyalty of her subjects — rare for the members of her dynasty.
Photographs from an exhibition of Cleopatra in Rome.
Anyone who is sad about the fact that the Morsi government was toppled, especially my fellow liberals from the US who think that getting rid of this man was a strike against democracy, please read this article. This is not Fox News propaganda but the results of a study done by a venerable Muslim institution. Despite his election promises, Morsi and his associates wanted to tele-transport Egypt to some imagined golden age when women were household slaves and breeding machines, banned from every aspect of public life.
I won’t be going back to Egypt. I would also totally support withdrawing ANY financial assistance to that country. Those might be strange statements from someone who’s written two books about Kleopatra and clearly loves the country and its history. Let me explain.
I am sharing herewith in its entirety a report from CNN’s blog about the recent gang rapes in Egypt. Historically, women of the conquered were raped by the victors as part of the “prize” of winning a war and to assert supremacy over, and humiliate and shame, the losers. That reflected a savage mentality to be sure, but the recent rapes in Egypt are more frightening because they are coldly calculated to terrify and suppress half the population. The message to Egypt’s women: Stay out of public life. If you show your face, you’re asking for it. The message to foreign countries and institutions: send us females and this is how we will deal with them.