Cleopatra is a fascinating historical figure. There is enough intrigue and scandal surrounding her reign to keep her relevant, even though she died over 2000 years ago.
The Cleopatra that we refer to was actually the 7th in a line of Ptolemaic rulers. She was born in Egypt, but her ancestors migrated from Greece, which is why she has a Greek name that means, “she who comes from glorious father.”
What is Cleopatra most known for?
Historically, it is the way she influenced Roman politics and ruled her kingdom. Salaciously, it is her infamous relationship with two notable Romans: Julias Ceaser, the Roman emperor, and Marc Antony, a Roman politician and general.
In modern representation, Cleopatra is a sex symbol, often portrayed by gorgeous women like Monica Bellucci, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonor Varela, and Vivien Leigh.
These Cleopatra quotes are not necessarily historically accurate, as some of them come from works of literature and entertainment.
Don’t forget to also check out these P.T. Barnum quotes that reveal the truth about the great showman.
Cleopatra quotes about the men in her life
1. “In praising Antony, I have dispraised Caesar.” ― Cleopatra
2. [At Marc Antony’s tomb:] “Nothing could part us in life, but now in death, we are likely to change places, you the Roman lying here in Egyptian soil, and I, helpless woman that I am, being buried in Italy.” ― Cleopatra
3. “Is he a good man?” “Define ‘good’.” ― Cleopatra
4. “If you find him sad, say I am dancing. If in mirth, report that I am sudden sick.” ― William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
5. “Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered.” ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life
6. [As she applies the second asp to her arm.] “I can no more. O Antony!– Nay, I will take thee too.” ― Cleopatra
7. “Fool! Don’t you see now that I could have poisoned you a hundred times, had I been able to live without you?” ― Cleopatra
8. “Give, you gods, give to your boy, your Caesar, the rattle of a globe to play withal, This gewgaw world, and put him cheaply off: I’ll not be pleased with less than Cleopatra.”— John Dryden 1678 Anthony. All for Love, or The World Well Lost, act 2, sc.1.
Classic Cleopatra quotes
9. “I will not be triumphed over.” — Cleopatra
10. “My honor was not yielded, but conquered merely.” — Cleopatra
11. “And make death proud to take us.” — Cleopatra
12. “All strange and terrible events are welcome, but comforts we despise.” — Cleopatra
13. “Leave the fishing-rod, Great General, to us sovereigns of Pharos and Canopus. Your game is cities and kings and continents.” — Cleopatra
14. “Be it known that we, the greatest, are misthought.” — Cleopatra
15. “Celerity is never more admired than by the negligent.” — Cleopatra
16. “It is my birth-day: I had thought to have held it poor: but, since my lord Is Antony again, I will be Cleopatra.” — Cleopatra
Cleopatra quotes from written works
17. “I will even not rant about treachery. I was brought up in a sea of treachery and deceit and betrayal. I swam in it like a perch in the Nile. I am completely at home in it. I shall not drown.” ― Margaret George, The Memoirs of Cleopatra
18. “She nonetheless survives as a wanton temptress, not the last time a genuinely powerful woman has been transmuted into a shamelessly seductive one.” ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life
19. “The name Cleopatra wakens the world to life.” ― Carmen Boullosa, Cleopatra Dismounts
20. And with Cæsar to take in his hand the army, the empire, and Cleopatra, and say, “All these will I relinquish if you will show me the fountain of the Nile.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
21. “Cleopatra VII would have described herself as a Greek. Whatever the racial ingredients of her Macedonian ancestors, her language, like theirs (though they had spoken a dialect), was Greek and so was her whole education and culture.” — Michael Grant, From Alexander to Cleopatra: The Hellenistic World”, Scribner Paper Fiction
What did you learn from these Cleopatra quotes?
Cleopatra, in actual life, was not as beautiful as the actresses that portrayed her. There is some thought that she made herself look more masculine so she could exude power.
She was intelligent and witty, but that was overlooked to smear her name and paint her as a brazen woman. She didn’t live to see the age of 40 and committed suicide.
Her death itself is shrouded in mystery. Evidently, her first attempt at suicide was thought out and plotted with the intent of hurting Mark Antony. That attempt didn’t go as planned, and she was to be brought back to Rome.
The most accepted story is that she was bit by an asp. She had a history of poisonous deaths in her past, and historians believe poison played a role in her suicide.
Do you have a favorite Cleopatra quote or story? Leave it in the comments below!
December 9, 2020 7:00 AM EST