Cleopatra, c. 1725

Oil on canvasexpand_more

The William Hood Dunwoody Fundexpand_more  69.95

Cleopatra was the last great pharaoh of Egypt. She was capable of intrigue, murder, military action, and all manner of power plays. Becoming first the lover of Julius Caesar and then of Mark Antony (Roman politician and general), she gave enduring meaning to the term “foreign affairs.” Cleopatra and Mark Antony reportedly continued their playful flirtations even after marrying. The story goes that she bet Mark Antony that she could spend ten million sestertii, which amounts to about 55,000 pounds of silver or well over ten million dollars, on a single meal. She served very simple dishes, and he scoffed at her effort. Then she ordered a second course, a single cup of strong vinegar. Cleopatra took a huge, fabulously valuable pearl and dropped it in the cup. The pearl dissolved, and she drank it down.

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