Was Cleopatra Really So Beautiful?

Ancient Roman historian Dio Cassius, who described the Egyptian queen Cleopatra as ”the most beautiful woman of all”, never saw the object of his admiration. In fact, he even lived more than 100 years after Cleopatra’s death.


Cleopatra and Julius Caesar(Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1866)

To be honest, Cleopatra was not exceptionally beautiful in any way, at least according to present beauty standards. From portraits painted and coins issued during her reign, we can assume that Cleopatra had quite a long nose, protruding chin and that she looked ”rather majestic than beautiful”. Caesar’s and Mark Anthony’s passion for Cleopatra was probably evoked by her inner values; strong charisma and wisdom.

Ancient coins portraying Cleopatra(on the left) and Mark Anthony

Another common misconception is that Queen Cleopatra was of ancient Egyptian origin, when in fact, she was Macedonian Greek ancestry, descendant of Ptolemy, one of the Alexander the Great’s generals.

Due to sheer amount of incest in her family(16 roles of her great-great-grandparents were filled by only six individuals), some sources say there could be a connection between her looks and genetical inbreeding of her ancestors, however this currently belongs only to the realm of speculation.

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