Cleopatra, A Queen Between Two Worlds: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Jade Bajeot

Cleopatra, A Queen Between Two Worlds: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Jade Bajeot


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Cleopatra, one of the most fascinating queens in history, was an ambitious and accomplished woman. She ruled Egypt for 20 years during the period that saw the emergence of the power of the Roman Empire. However, she is most well known for her romances with two notable Romans—Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.

Cleopatra was a Greek queen with roots in Macedonia. Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Great more than 250 years before she was born, and at his death, the country passed under the Ptolemy dynasty, of which the queen was the last descendant. During this three-part course, we will get to know Cleopatra and her family. Cleopatra’s adventures will be the central theme that will allow us to explore the splendid city of Alexandria, the radiating center of Hellenistic culture. We will discuss Egypt’s diversity, the presence of different ethnic groups, and the integration of Greek and Egyptian cultures.

We will then delve into Cleopatra's multifaceted personality, learning about her first meeting with Julius Caesar and their lavish honeymoon along the Nile. We’ll follow her travels to Rome to attend Julius Caesar's triumphal parade and examine what Rome was like in the last years of the Republic that preceded the Princedom. Although very wary of this foreign queen, the Romans were nevertheless fascinated and influenced by her. Upon Julius Caesar’s death, Rome was no longer safe for Cleopatra. She fled to Egypt, where she became the protagonist of one of the most beautiful love stories of antiquity, the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play, Antony and Cleopatra. With Marc Antony, it was love at first sight, and the two stayed together for ten years until the tragic epilogue of the battle of Actium. The end of Cleopatra’s reign meant the end of Egypt’s independence. Now a mere province of Rome, Egypt became known as “the granary of the Empire.”

Finally, we will talk about the influence played by the Egyptian culture on the Romans and the impact that Cleopatra has had on modern mass culture.

Led by an expert on Egyptology, Dr. Jade Bajeot, this interactive course will provide an overview of Cleopatra’s life and insight into the history and culture of Ptolemaic Egypt. Set against the backdrop of the expansion of the Roman Empire, this course will put Egypt’s most celebrated queen in context.

 

Lecture 1: Ptolemaic Egypt

In our first session, we will meet the young Cleopatra and her (unconventional) family. We will explore the delicate political balance in the Mediterranean basin during this period to understand how Egypt was ruled and explore the relationship between Egyptian and Greek cultures. Through the relationship of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, we will explore the city of Alexandria.

Lecture 2: Egypt and Rome

In our second session, we will travel to Rome to attend Julius Caesar’s triumphal parade and examine what Rome was like in the last years of the Republic preceding the Princedom. We’ll learn how the Romans received the queen as we reconstruct the political atmosphere that led to the assassination of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra’s return to Egypt.

Lecture 3: The Downfall of Egypt

Our final session will focus on the difficult years that followed Caesar's death and then when Cleopatra met Marc Antony. We will explore their love story and the issues that triggered the war against Rome. We will also learn about the Egyptomania that spread in Rome and across the Mediterranean as we examine the lasting influence that Cleopatra has had on mass culture.

Jade Bajeot has an MA in Egyptology, where her dissertation focus was on the ancient Egyptian fortification system. For her Ph.D. in Archaeology, she specialized in the prehistory of Egypt, in particular the unpublished data of the Italian excavations carried out in the predynastic site of Maadi (Cairo). During her Ph.D., she spent six months in Cairo, at the French Institute of Archaeology (Ifao) where she had the opportunity to visit several archaeological sites. In 2014 she started to collaborate with the French mission that digs at Tell el-Iswid, a predynastic site located in the Nile Delta. She still works at Tell el-Iswid as a specialist in ceramic technology. She also had the opportunity to work at Tell el-Fara’in/Buto and Tell el-Samara (Nile Delta). She has published several papers on the subject and her Ph.D. thesis has been published as a monograph.

 

How does it work?

This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $105 for three lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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