Should Cleopatra VII Be Called "the Great"?

Should Cleopatra VII Be Called "the Great"?

  • Yes

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No

    Votes: 15 100.0%

  • Total voters
    15
Sep 2013
649
Ontario, Canada
For a historical figure to receive the appellation of "Great" they needed to have accomplished truly exceptional things far beyond the expectations of anyone. It probably started with Alexander the Great, but he wasn't known as such during his lifetime. It was something which was bestowed upon him afterwards when the realization of what he had actually done had sunk in, people having the time to appreciate the changes which had come about.

Cleopatra, in my opinion, didn't do enough to warrant it. Simply being a good ruler, which she was, isn't enough. Now, if she had managed to survive Octavian, keep Egypt apart from Roman rule, and her dynasty alive... then what she what would've done to make that happen could've been enough to make her a contender for being called The Great.
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,972
Republika Srpska
Antiochos III still vasty expanded the Seleucid realm even though the Romans defeated him. But Antiochos still remained ruler.

Pompey is "Great" mainly because of his military accomplishments. He won great victories and conquered lands even though Caesar beat him in the end.
 

cachibatches

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,359
It would depend on whether this end would have been due to her own incompetence or due to factors outside of her control. I mean, Boudicca ultimately lost her war with the Romans but nevertheless became a type of hero, did she not?
Well, she did break and run at Actium.

As for the question--no. She is an also-ran. She did many great things, including restoring her kingdom and making it a contender with Rome, but in the end, she lost.

Her reputation is fine the way it is.
 
Mar 2018
984
UK
As for 'the Great', I will use such epithets to describe those who received the title from contemporaries or those writing not long afterwards. To do so is to acknowledge how the personality was received by their culture and can also be a useful way of distinguishing them from other characters with the same name. It doesn't necessarily mean I actually think them great. However, if the epithet is just an honorific being applied by modern scholars I see no point in doing so. To me it seems ahistorical and gratuitous.
I agree with this entirely. Despite the number of threads on this forum of the "X vs Y" or "Who is the best?" format, I see absolutely no reason why we should decide who in history was great and who was not. What's the point of doing so? It's mostly subjective, doesn't teach us anything, and doesn't help us understand anything. It's merely a projection of what we consider important onto historical figures.

Now for those historical figures who have been called great since their time (or shortly after), then it makes sense to keep using that epitaph just to prevent confusion. Referring to someone Charles Carolingian is a lot less clear than Charlemagne. It's also interesting to note that numbering kings is a fairly recent innovation (16th Century I believe, from a recent thread here). So before that epitaphs were needed just so you knew who was being talked about. Being called the great reflects as much on their ability to manage their legacy as it is on their achievement.


So, if we modify the OP to the more historically meaningful "Why wasn't Cleopatra called the Great in Antiquity?" then the answer is because she lost. Had Anthony won the civil war and honoured his gift of large chunks of the Roman East to her, then it might well have been different.
 
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Oct 2018
2,092
Sydney
I agree with this entirely. Despite the number of threads on this forum of the "X vs Y" or "Who is the best?" format, I see absolutely no reason why we should decide who in history was great and who was not. What's the point of doing so? It's mostly subjective, doesn't teach us anything, and doesn't help us understand anything. It's merely a projection of what we consider important onto historical figures.
I get what you're saying, but I have to admit that I enjoy a superficial vs match-up. I also think those threads can produce interesting smaller discussions about various related topics. Moreover, I actually find that projection you speak of to be very interesting, which is part of the reason I have established threads on favourite Roman empresses, most interesting Roman dynasties, greatest Roman victories, worst Roman defeats, top 10 Roman generals, etc. I enjoy learning about how others perceive Roman history, what things they favour and why. But I respect that not everyone finds that interesting.

It's also interesting to note that numbering kings is a fairly recent innovation (16th Century I believe, from a recent thread here). So before that epitaphs were needed just so you knew who was being talked about.
One imagines that is part of the reason why the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings consistently employed epithets.
 
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Sep 2019
187
Vergina
Well, she did break and run at Actium.

As for the question--no. She is an also-ran. She did many great things, including restoring her kingdom and making it a contender with Rome, but in the end, she lost.

Her reputation is fine the way it is.
This is a good example of perceptions regarding Cleopatra. Common held belief is that Cleopatra ran away at Actium and left Antony. However this does not seem to have been the case. The Egyptian fleets breakout was an agreed upon plan to salvage a portion of the navy-treasure fleet. It does not look to have been a measure taken by Cleopatra out of fear.

@Olleus brings up a good points. Perhaps we could also discuss misconceptions about Cleopatra?
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,030
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
It would depend on whether this end would have been due to her own incompetence or due to factors outside of her control. I mean, Boudicca ultimately lost her war with the Romans but nevertheless became a type of hero, did she not?
As I remember, Boudicca's forces slughtered tens of thousands of civilians in in the Roman towns, which makes her a villain and a war criminal in my opinion.
 
Mar 2018
984
UK
Boudicca's modern image, and her statue on Parliament Square, is the prime example of Victorian historical revisionism. They take a mass-murdering rape victim and dress her up to be Victory incarnate as if to say that the British spirit has been in England for 800 years longer than anything that could reasonably be called "England". I wonder if it was a partially an attempt to copy the "French" Vercingitorix.
 

cachibatches

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,359
This is a good example of perceptions regarding Cleopatra. Common held belief is that Cleopatra ran away at Actium and left Antony. However this does not seem to have been the case. The Egyptian fleets breakout was an agreed upon plan to salvage a portion of the navy-treasure fleet. It does not look to have been a measure taken by Cleopatra out of fear.

@Olleus brings up a good points. Perhaps we could also discuss misconceptions about Cleopatra?
I have never seen a single source that says anything like this. Are you sure it is not just some far-fetched theory?
 
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