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Friday, November 20, 2009

Cleopatra and the Christian Woman


Prior to writing this blog, my knowledge of Cleopatra was pretty limited. Besides the fact that Shakespeare wrote a play about her and that she liked to sit on a barge, really, what else did I need to know?

That's a rhetorical question.

Tons have been written and said about the Egyptian Queen. Philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, "Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed."

As I did my research, I learned a sad truth: Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator broke the Ten Commandments more times than any of us have probably contemplated. See how many you can find in these facts:

~She became the Pharaoh of the Ptolemaic Dynasty after succeeded Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (Auletes). As the last Queen and last Pharoah of Egypt, she reigned for 21 years, from 51 BC to 30 BC, during which time she had her sister killed. Following Cleopatra's death, Egypt became a Roman province.

~She died in 30 BC, when she was only 39 years old. She committed suicide and used an asp (an Egyptian cobra snake) for the purpose.

~As mistress of Julius Caesar, she gave birth to one son. While Mark Antony was married to another woman, he married Cleopatra. They had three children. During her marriages to her brothers, she had no children.

~Contrary to the popular belief, she was perhaps not very beautiful. Coins dating back to her time depict a woman with a hooked nose and masculine features. Yet she was a very intelligent woman, with oodles of charisma and amazing powers of persuasion.

~Cleopatra was not an Egyptian. Rather, she was a Macedonian Greek who descended from Ptolemy I, a Greek general of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy I became the king of Egypt following the death of Alexander.

~In the entire 300-year old Ptolemaic dynasty, Cleopatra was the only Pharaoh who could speak Egyptian. In fact, she was the master of nine languages.

While I like the idea of sitting on a barge, drinking lattes while my servants take turns fanning me and bringing me grapes and other luscious fruits, the grim reality is I don't have much in common with Cleopatra other than she died when she was 39 and I am currently 39. Her suicide, apparently, resulted from her grief in learning of Marc Antony's death.

Hello.

I love my husband, yet were he to die, I'm not about to hug a snake.

So that makes me think that Cleopatra must had a self-absorbed life. That can only explain to me why she'd walk out on her four children by committing suicide, although maybe she had no idea how to be a mother. Maybe she spent so much time seducing men and climbing the ruling ladder that she never realized her children needed a mother. Maybe she had no idea how to be a mother because she never really had a mother to mother her.

Earlier this week I was talking to my 10th grade son about dating. See, we have a family policy of "no dating until you're out of high school." Even my 1st grader heards the rule. Now I'm sure some readers are thinking, "Gina, you are wacky. What's wrong with letting your children date? After all, they need to learn how to date because dating is good for their social developement."

Hmm. I don't think I spelled development correctly. Yep. The second spelling is right.

As my son once wrote in his English journal, "Dating in high school is a waste of time, emotions, and money."

Anyhoo, in the conversation with my son earlier this week, I told him about my friend Kari and how she'd ignore us while she had a boyfriend, only to hang out with us when the relationship ended. For weeks all we'd hear is complains about her ex. Until she discovered a new love. They'd hook up and we'd be dumped again. My friend Katrina once said, "I feel like she uses us to keep her company until she finds a new boyfriend."

One of the difficulties in being a parent is helping our children understand we have rules for their protection, not just to make their lives miserable.

From what I've read about Cleopatra, she lived in a culture where she had no rules, no boundaries, no moral code. No right and wrong. Her life was a case study of "do whatever makes you happy."

Why is it that folks who always do what makes them happy don't seem to stay happy?

Gotta get that next fix.
Gotta climb that mountain.
Gotta lose five more pounds.

Ever wonder what we're teaching our daughters when we moan, "Uggh, I need to lose some weight, I'm so fat"?

Just a month ago, a lady from church was sharing about the Weight Watchers program she recently started. 99/100 people would look at the woman and say, "She's a size 8. She doesn't need to be doing Weight Watchers."

While I wisely kept my mouth shut, I couldn't help wondering what she was teaching her daughters about physical acceptance. If my 5'5" mom who weighs 135 is on a diet because she's "fat," then I'd better go on a diet too.

Funny thing (or maybe sad) is that of the women I talk to/hang with, the ones who focus most on weight AREN'T the overweight ones. Why is that? If you can't be happy at the weight you weigh now or with the face/body you have now, what makes you think weighing 10 lbs less or having a bit of plastic surgery is going to make you happy? There will ALWAYS be another 5 lbs you can lose. There will ALWAYS be another woman skinnier, prettier, sexier than you. And if you're concerned about that woman, odds are your daughter is going to learn from you that she needs to be concerned about that woman too.

Despite all the grand love affairs Cleopatra had, the renown she gained, the mark in history she made, in the end, some other woman raised her three youngest children.

That to me, makes Cleopatra a failure.


Non-Serious Question of the Day: What children's tv show/cartoon should be permanently banished from all airwaves/internet/world existance?

Serious Question of the Day: What did you hear one of your children say (or see written) that made you realize you'd give yourself a Good Housekeeping star for teaching him/her?

29 comments:

  1. Good Morning Boss.
    We've got the latte machine warmed up and when you say the word (or flick your wrist) we'll push the button.

    I think most of my conception of Cleopatra is based on Elizabeth Taylor who, beautiful as any woman would care to be, has her own baggage, eh? I sort of like the fact that Cleo got to where she was based on intelligence and conniving, rather than beauty. Thanks for clearing up some details on her!

    In my daughter's senior yearbook 'study' (where you list your nickname and favorites, etc) she named me as her hero. That's a special memory.

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  2. Mornin', Deb! I've been debating about whether or no to hava latte this morn. And I'm not just taking the cyber, caloric-free kind.

    For all Cleopatra's faults, she was a smart woman and knew how to use her womanly wiles well. And by all accounts, she and Marc Antony truly loved each other. Of course, considering the turmoil surrounding their deaths (suicides or not), they could be listed as the real Romeo and Juliet.

    Love the tender moment with your daughter. My 2-yr-old likes to hug me and say, "I love you, Mommy. YOu're my hero." That she understands what hero means is doubtful, but her saying it is adorable anyway.

    Now I'm off to take oldest son to school. Hmm. Latte anyone?

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  3. Yes, while Cleopatra was not an admirable women, she certainly was a fascinating one.

    We haven't set a "rule" yet, but our kids know we don't want them dating until after highschool. We have said if there is someone truly special to them they can spend time with groups or families. But we don't want them using the term "boyfriend" or "girlfriend." I think for now my kids are relieved that they can just say they aren't allowed to date and avoid all the mess.

    Hmm, I'm not sure I'm ready to jump on the censorship bandwagon, but I'm glad to be past the Barney stage.

    My daughter told me recently that I need to stay true to my calling and finish what I started. She forbid me to start writing any more novels until I'm done with my current WIPs.

    Great post, Gina. Entertaining and wise.

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  4. Thought provoking post, Gina. I didn't know much about Cleo either beyond the broad brushstrokes. Despite the distance of time, she still captures the attention of people today. Cold comfort to her little ones though.

    My son is 5 and just had his first theological debate the other day. His friend said that God used a dead guy to make men. Ethan responded that God made me out of dirt and breathed life into him. He turned to the Bible as the place for the answers. It turned into quite the debate, but I was proud of him for sticking to his guns against a kid who was older and who he usually defers to and seeks approval from.

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  5. Dina, your daughter probably ought to give me the same lecture. I'm the queen of too-many-things-on-the-burner. I told hubby the other day that I need things that only take me a day or two to finish.

    I also like how you said, I think for now my kids are relieved that they can just say they aren't allowed to date and avoid all the mess.

    I'd not considered how our rule could relieve our kids of all that dating stress, but after pondering your statement, I can see how our family rule gives them refuge. Plus I'm pretty candid with the other kids in the youth group about dating and our family policy. Trust me, I know a few girls who don't like me too much for having the rule. Oh the woes of a mother of a cutie.

    Sometime next year, we ought to do a theme on (Grand)Parenting the Modern Teenager.

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  6. That would be a good theme, Gina.

    Oh, and sort of a funny by the way considering all the hype on some of our various loops. The reason my daughter told me that was because I was considering ditching my current projects to try a Love Inspired Historical. Makes her advice doubly valuable at the moment ;)

    Maybe once they're both in college we can introduce your cutie son to my gorgeous daughter. Sounds like they both have their heads on straight.

    Of course oldest children are notorious for that. Let's wait and see how a few more turn out before we pat ourselves on the backs. I have a feeling my youngest may be the one to object to the no dating in highschool idea.

    Dina

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  7. Oh my stars, Lisa! You've got a Christian apologetic on your hands.

    When my oldest was in kindergarten, during a Sunday School lesson, the teacher said something about Santa. Well, Matt told the teacher that Santa wasn't real and that parents were the ones who gave the presents. He then mentioned Saint Nicholas and how we can carry on the tradition of his giving gifts, but we shouldn't tell our kids that Santa is real because he isn't.

    Later that morning, the grandmother of one of other kindergarteners found me in the church parking lot and chewed me out for telling Matt that Santa wasn't real. Now, looking back, I can see how I probably should have responded with something nicer than, "Who is more wrong: Me for telling my son that Santa isn't real or you for lying to your grandchildren?"

    Whoops.

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  8. Before we introduce them, how old is your daughter and what professional football team does she cheer for?

    See, during our discussion on dating, I told son that most moms won't tell their children this, but when it comes to dating, guys/gals should consider more than "am I attracted to this person."

    Gina's Wise Dating Advice

    1. If you and your date don't cheer for the same professional sports team (and you care enough to have a favorite team), then one of you needs to change...or you've got a shaky foundation.

    2. If you and your date don't agree on most theological issues (and you care enough to be firm on your views), then one or both of you needs to change or you've got a shaky foundation.

    3. If you and your date don't agree on political views (and you care enough to be firm on your views), then one or both of you needs to change or you've got a shaky foundation.

    So basically if your daughter is a conservative, Southern Baptist, Dallas Cowboy-lovin' gal, then she could be my son's true love. I'm starting to think arranged marriages might be a good thing.

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  9. LOL. Good point, Dina, about not patting ourselves on the back just yet. My 1st grader told me she's "in love with three boys."

    When I told her she can't date until she's out of high school, she sighed and said, "I know but that doesn't mean I can't love them."

    You do that, honey. ;-)

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  10. too funny. but don't think for a minute I'd want to go through any of those ages with my kids again.

    I agree that setting a boundary for a teen gives them a good 'out' to avoid stuff that is a pain anyway.

    I'm all for making marriage under 25 illegal! And arranged marriages, not such a bad idea.

    kidding.
    mostly.

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  11. Hmm. She'll be fifteen next month. Politically she's conservative, although she's going through a pacifist stage. She is in fact Southern Baptist. Does charismatic Southern Baptist count? Actually from what you've told me of your son, I think they'd get along great.

    But alas, my parents raised her as a Steeler fan.

    Oh well.

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  12. A Steeler fan?!

    Actually that's not a deal-breaker. The Steelers are AFC and Dallas is NFC. Odds are they won't play much and really aren't in competition with each other. Now if she cheered for another NFC East team, that'd certainly be a dealbreaker.

    Pacifist stage? Hmm. That's a girl thing which is over-lookable. My son wants Helo for Christmas. Apparently it's okay to shoot and kill things as long as the things are aliens. Who knew?

    Unfortunately for him, I have a "no Rated-M video games" rule.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Oh, me Gina is anonymous. Sorry. I'm blogger confused at the moment.

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  15. It seems Gina has now disintegrated into split personality disorder. A common consequence of referring to herself in the third person and drinking lattes on barges.

    We nixed the halo idea too, for the twelve year old boy, not Christi obviously.

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  16. Ah, listening to the banter, I miss my kids being at home. We didn't have dating rules and yet had no problems. I remember that all things do come around again and so now I am anxiously awaiting my son's time as his kids get older.

    I think the nicest compliment is when they ask 'WWYDM", what would you do, Mom?'


    Arranged marriages? Nah! I would never have found a gal with as many attributes for my son as he did on his own.

    Have a blessed day. (Halo? Helo? Help!)

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  17. Gina, have you heard of the new book about Cleopatra's Daughter? Michelle Sutton did a review here.

    Non-serious: Ed, Ed, and Eddy, followed closely by Flapjack.

    Serious: My 4yo when he says to someone who is nursing a hurt, physical or emotional, "It's okay. He/She said she was sorry. Everyone makes mistakes." He then follows this with a hug.

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  18. BTW, I totally agree with you on the dating thing. Despite what I did during high school, I'm now of a firm mind that dating can wait. There's too much else they have to deal with, and it's all so much more serious now than when we were coming up.

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  19. Thanks, Patricia, for sharing Michelle's review. I saw the Cleo's Daughter book and wondered if it was worth reading.

    Umm, Connie, I have no idea if it's Halo or Helo. Maybe it is Halo. Uggh. I should know this.

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  20. Oh my gosh, Gina aka Anonymous and Ragamuffin Tops? has really gone over the edge. She's not quite sure who she is anymore. So sad.

    Patricia thanks for answering the questions. We appreciate that kind of stuff around here. I think we still have more famous women to discuss next week. At least one queen that I know of.

    Ahhh, your son sounds like a sweetheart!

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  21. Gina: You know, you have such a strong, distinctive voice I knew you were writing the post without looking to see the id of the poster. Um, that's a compliment.

    As for Cleopatra: She was also known as The New Goddess. Theo something or other. My Latin fails me.

    And she had sensory down to an art.When she brought Mark Antony to her, she filled the room with rose petals as in about a foot and a half deep. They did the deed in a bed of rose petals.

    As for her beauty, we shouldn't impose today's standards on what was considered beautiful then. I'm not stereotyping, you understand, because I'm just too PC for that, but she had a hooked nose? Goodness yes, she was from the Middle East.

    Diane DePeche was considered the most beautiful women in france, too, and people nowadays don't think she's attractive. (mistress of Henry the II of France. I think it was Henry II. Who can keep track of the Henry's. Or rather, Henris. Catherine De Medici's husband.)

    Cant' say about kids. I wasn't allowed to date until I was sixteen and then the guy had to ask my parents for permission.

    As for football team loyalty, I've lived in both Texas and Pittsburgh, but the latter longer than the former, so guess where my loyalties lie. And the two teams do meet--in the Super Bowl.

    Not supposed to express my political preferences in public forums, thanks to The Hatch Act, but those of you who know me know where I stand. Working on my husband--and succeeding. LOL.

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  22. Fun post, Gina, and a hilarious discussion this morning, everybody.

    I read an interesting (fictional) story about Cleo several years ago, Margaret George's Memoirs of Cleopatra. Suicide seemed the best political option to her in that novel, not just romantically. Ugh. I am so glad I didn't live back then.

    I am glad we're not at the dating age in my house yet. Tying that in to the second question, I'd say I'm always grateful when my 11 year old tells me things girls talk about at school (read: sex, or their 11 yo versins of it) and she tells them it makes her uncomfortable.

    Dina, I don't miss Barney either!

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  23. Thanks for the excellent history lesson on Cleo...I never knew...

    I enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

    I applaud you Gina for your dating rules...

    And I agree w/ you re: your comments on weight/beauty.

    Have a great evening everyone!

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(Dot)com

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  24. Hi Gina,

    I enjoyed reading this. It was a nice way to end the work week. And I enjoyed reading everyone's comments. Gina and Dina, hmmm...can you imagine the holidays if you were to become mother-in-laws to each others' kiddos? Somehow I don't think there'd ever be a dull moment.

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  25. Hey,
    I grew up in Steeler country. Now I'm a Cincinnati Bengal. But the big news is our high school football team just won another game and we are 13-0! Yippee! My daughter Meghan is a cheerleader. There will be no sleep tonight! :)
    GO COWBOYS!!! Those are the cowboys in Wyoming, Ohio. :)

    Oh. If that purple dinosaur is still on tv . . .

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  26. Dora! Not Barney - we love Barney...

    And I love watching my 2yo pray. She is so sincere. And moments like those, I know we're doing something right.

    Who knew all that stuff about Cleopatra?! I kind of like the barge-picture myself.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the visits by you and company over at Winning Readings...

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  27. Jill, I didn't know that. I grew up near Pittsburgh too in Beaver county in a little town between Ambridge and Aliquippa. The whole family lives in Virginia Beach now, so we've brought the Steelers with us. My Dad and brother in law are the big fanatics. We were afraid my Dad was going to need CPR during the superbowl last year.

    Dina

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  28. Hello Ma'am, sorry I'm late but I was cutting down some of those super long palm branches you asked for and I had to cross the desert to get 'em.

    The image I have of Cleopatra is Elizabeth Taylor. And of course, Marc Anthony looks to me like Richard Burton. I saw the movie as a young girl and the only thing I remembered was the way they fired up the screen with their passion.

    We don't let our kids date until they're 16. Our eldest child waited and started dating soon after her 16th birthday and no problems. Our 2nd eldest girl waited and seemed to better understand the dating concept as being a forerunner of finding a suitable marriage partner. By the she could date, and was asked, she decided boys were too juvenile. She graduated high school this year and left for Bible College this Sept and until that time, had gone out on 1 solo date - with a good friend - not a date, she says. I guess I'll find out at Christmas if she's actually dating yet. My 14 yr old son denies ever wanting to date. However, my 11 yr old son says he can't wait. He's the gentleman in the family. He's been opening doors for me since he was old enough to reach the handle. He's the one who says I look pretty when I get dressed up. He's also had his eye on a little blond girl in his class since Kindergarten. They both blush whenever they're near each other. Still. And they're in Grade 6 now. *sigh.

    I know I've rambled but I wanted to answer your question:
    My proudest moments have come when teachers have stopped me and said my kids deserve merit awards for humanity. Two of my kids have befriended 'difficult' kids - one who lashed out in anger because of home situations and even swore at and lashed out at my daughter yet still my daughter stuck by her. The guidance counsellor said it was the main reason the girl settled down in school and is now a 'good' student. And then my eldest son befriended a new kid at school after finding him huddled in a school corner for the 3rd recess. When teachers tell me of these incidents, I know hubby and I are following God's guidance and raising our children in His way.

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