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Cleopatra

Cleopatra’s true racial background (and does it really matter?)

Racial profiling and manipulation have been around for a very long time. It has become an issue in contemporary politics, and over 2500 years ago the Greek historian Herodotos wrote that ethnicity was regularly turned to political ends. Cleopatra VII, the last queen of Egypt and a woman of great ability, is often a victim of racial profiling, as today people can be more interested in her racial background than her many accomplishments. Such concerns have recently come to the forefront with the announcement that in at least one of the several Cleopatra movies currently planned, a white (instead of black) actress would play the role of the queen. It is hard to imagine that race would be more important than acting ability, but clearly others disagree.

It has been suggested – although generally not by credible scholarly sources – that Cleopatra was racially black African. To be blunt, there is absolutely no evidence for this, yet it is one of those issues that seems to take on a life of its own despite all indication to the contrary. What follows lays out the evidence for Cleopatra’s racial ancestry, but one must not forget that this is of little importance in assessing the legacy of the queen in world history.

Let us consider exactly the evidence for Cleopatra’s racial background. It’s a little complicated, so do follow closely! She was born in early 69 BC as the descendant of a line of Egyptian kings in a dynasty that went back 250 years. Her ancestor Ptolemy I, a companion of Alexander the Great, founded the dynasty in the late fourth century BC. Ptolemy was Macedonian Greek in origin (he grew up at the royal court of Alexander’s father in Macedonia, the northern part of the Greek peninsula), and established himself as king of Egypt in the convulsive years after Alexander’s death. The descent passed through six successor Ptolemies until it reached Cleopatra’s father. So Cleopatra was no more than eight generations away from being pure Macedonian Greek.

Sarah Bernhardt
Image Credit: ‘Sarah Bernhardt (1844 – 1923) in the role of Cleopatra’, by Georges Jules Victor Clairin (1843 – 1919), Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

But what about the mothers? Women are always difficult to find, even in royal dynasties, and it is here that questions of her racial background have been raised. For the first six generations the wives of the ruling Ptolemies also came from the same Macedonian background as their husbands. So until the time of Cleopatra’s great-grandfather, the ethnic makeup of the dynasty was still pure Macedonian Greek. In fact two of her ancestors married their sisters, thus reinforcing the Macedonian ethnicity.

It is with Cleopatra’s grandfather that uncertainties develop. Although he had two wives of traditional Macedonian background, he seems to have had at least one concubine of uncertain origin, who may have been Cleopatra’s grandmother. But this is by no means clear, and some sources indicate she was her husband’s sister, and thus pure Macedonian.

Assuming, however, that Cleopatra’s grandmother was not from the traditional Macedonian Greek stem, the question arises as to just what she was. Sources suggest that if she was not Macedonian, she was probably Egyptian. So by the time of Cleopatra’s grandparents, there may have been an Egyptian element in the racial stem.

Cleopatra’s father also had several wives. One was his sister, but again there is evidence that some of his five children had another mother. Yet the geographer Strabo (one of the few contemporary sources for the life of Cleopatra) wrote that all the wives of her father were women of significant status, which rules out any slaves or concubines, and makes it possible that Cleopatra’s mother was of the traditional Macedonian Greek stock. But this may not have been the case, so one may need to look elsewhere for the ethnic background of Cleopatra’s mother. Yet there is only one other ethnic group that produced women of status in contemporary Egypt: the Egyptian religious elite, which in fact had a long history of intermarriage with the Ptolemaic dynasty. So Cleopatra’s mother may have been Egyptian, but she probably also had some Macedonian background.

There are three other matters worthy of consideration. One is that Cleopatra was the only ruler of her dynasty who knew, in addition to her native Greek, the Egyptian language. This suggests close association with an Egyptian speaker, perhaps her mother. Secondly, Cleopatra’s daughter, who became queen of Mauretania (and was mixed ethnically herself, as her father was Roman), honored the Egyptian religious elite at her far-off capital of Mauretanian Caesarea (in modern Algeria). This makes sense if they were part of her ancestral family. And third – especially relevant in demolishing any suggestion that Cleopatra had black African blood – the representations of her in Greek and Roman art and coins do not show anything other than traditional Mediterranean ethnicity, although artists were perfectly capable of showing other ethnic groups.

To sum up: it is quite possible that Cleopatra was pure Macedonian Greek. But it is probable that she had some Egyptian blood, although the amount is uncertain. Certainly it was no more than half, and probably less. The best evidence is that she was three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian. There is no room for anything else, certainly not for any black African blood.

Yet all this argumentation is rather silly. What is important about Cleopatra is that she became one of the most powerful rulers of her era. She was a skilled linguist, a naval commander, an expert administrator, a religious leader who was seen by some as a messianic figure, and a worthy opponent of the Romans. She was worshipped in Egypt for at over 400 years after her death. Race seems irrelevant in such a situation, and it goes without saying that people should be judged by their abilities, not their race. But sadly, even in twenty-first century America, this is far from the case. It is unlikely that Cleopatra cared about her racial makeup, but people over 2000 years later still obsess about it, thus trivializing her accomplishments.

Featured Image Credit: ‘The meeting of Antony and Cleopatra’, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1885). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Recent Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Teresa Rolfe Kravtin, Lauren. Lauren said: Controversy over Cleopatra's true race–but does it matter? http://bit.ly/gH3lvy […]

  2. Peter

    It is ironic claiming Cleopatra being Macedonian Greek.There is no such thing as Macedonian Greek.Obviously, the Greek friends do follow Greeces historical falsifications as did this writer.It is shameful to say the least an outsider to fabricate true history.To put it in perspective;The City States were under the Macedonian yoke since 338 BC when the Macedonians defeated them at Chaeronea.Their history ceased to exist till 1829.Remember,Macedonia existed before Greece ever did.Greece annexed part of Macedonia in 1913,Never before Macedonia belonged to Greece.

  3. Naumovski

    There is no such thing as Macedonian Greek ethnicity for a historian you dont know much Macedonian and Greek are two separate ethnicities and I find it offensive when you refer to this mix, Macedonians are Macedonians stop distorting history, there is no Greek in this elemant whatsoever.

  4. Rou234

    Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek, anyone with a history degree knows ancient Macedonians had a Greek identity and culture or else they wouldn’t have spread Greek culture, identity, language, etc. from one end of the world to the other, and Cleopatra’s native language wouldn’t have been Greek. What’s shameful is to fabricate true history by trying to claim otherwise. CLEOPATRA: look it up, its Greek too and we know in ancient times where passports and identity cards didn’t exist to show one’s ethnic origins their names were used for such things.

  5. Afer

    Cleopatra was olive toned.

  6. Christian

    Interesting article, although I too contest the use of the phrase “Macedonian Greek”, although unlike my two learned friends above, I am not motivated by CONTEMPORARY POLITICS (viz. Republic of Macedonia vs Greece over the use of the name)- sticking to a purely ancient historical context here, as is the nature of this text.

    The Ancient Greeks had a very good understanding of who were Greek and who were not- there was never a grey area for them. Ancient Macedonians (called ‘Makedons’ by Herodotus and Thucydides) were never considered Greek; stories remain from ancient texts- notably Herodotus- of specific Macedonian kings like Alexander I (Macedon King during the early 5th century) claiming Greek ancestry, from the city-state of Argos I believe. Paraphrasing, he claimed to be:

    “A Greek king ruling over a barbarian people”

    Herodotus recalls him going over to Greek side before the Battle of Platea (479BC) and giving advice, despite the fact he was fighting with the Persians. He also recalls him participating in the Olympic games- something you had to be Greek to do.

    It is likely that Herodotus got most of his sources from Athens, who around the mid fifth-century would have wished to paint the Macedonian KING (as opposed to the general people) as Greek in order to maintain a steady supply of pitch and timber from the Macedonian forests, to maintain their navy. Whenever Athens had no use for the Macedonians, she considered them as barbarous as other tribal people north of Thessaly.

    The rhetoric of Demosthenes in the fourth-century certainly painted them as such, although this must be taken with a pinch of salt since he had utter political motives.

    The Macedonians that defeated the poleis in 338 at Chaeronea would go on to spread Greek language and traditions over Asia and yes, Egypt…Much like the Romans continued to up to the middle ages. But to class them as “Greek” themselves would be erroneous in my opinion. Although “Macedonians with Hellenistic identity” doesn’t really have such a nice ring to it.

    Sorry to waffle, very refreshing article aside from that.

  7. Kate

    Of course it matters! A white man can easily find hundreds of great white men in the history books. Finding role models and inspiration is more difficult for women, and especially difficult for women of colour. Even I get a little frisson from knowing that Elizabeth I was a redhead like me. I can only try to imagine the psychological impact for a Black woman if one of history’s greatest women, powerful, brilliant, daring, and alluring, was a Black woman like her.

  8. duane w roller

    Afer, I would be curious what the evidence is for this. As far as I know there is no evidence whatsoever for Cleopatra’s skin color.
    Duane W. Roller

  9. David Emery

    I heard Stacy Schiff suggest (book tour interview with Diane Rehm) that there might have been Persian princess in the bloodline. This makes sense to me, thinking about both the dynastic trend (Egyptian and otherwise) to tie to other ruling dynasties, and in particular the sense of “keep it in the family” (sorry!) between the successors of Alexander.

    And for the record, what does “person of color” mean in this context (or any other). Is a ‘classic’ light skinned Egyptian a ‘person of color’? What about a Persian? How much pigmentation is required to get this designation, or is this based on other either ethnic/racial characteristics?

  10. duane w roller

    To Kate: Your comments are worthwhile and interesting but really have nothing to do with Cleopatra herself.

    To David Emery: If there were any Persian blood, it would be so far back as to be miniscule. Stacy Schiff’s novelistic biography has a good deal of speculation in it. And you’re right that racial designations can degenerate into numbers and statistics, often used for nefarious purposes. Your comments demonstrate in the long run the very point I am trying to make: race doesn’t matter, and is usually used negatively.

  11. Chris Bennett

    It’s hard to disagree with the conclusion of this article — that Cleopatra’s ethnic ancestry is irrelevant to her career and achievements. Though I also think that the original article, while a little over the top, had a fair point to make: there should be no reason, other than acting ability, why Halle Berry or Rashida Jones could not have been cast as Cleopatra. Or Lucy Liu for that matter. But that’s modern politics.

    That said, there are a few points in this article which could do with some clarification.

    In a couple of places, it uses the phrase “sources suggest” to introduce a theory. This phrase is a little misleading: these sources are modern scholars, not ancient text. No ancient text has anything to say about the identity of either Cleopatra’s mother or her grandmother(s).

    Also, Strabo does not say that Cleopatra’s father had multiple wives nor that they were of high status. What he does say is that Cleopatra’s elder sister was their father’s only legitimate daughter — and the accuracy of that statement is disputed.

    While it is (most likely) true that Cleopatra spoke Egyptian, it’s a bit of a stretch to infer that this reflects her mother’s influence. She was clearly a skilled linguist, being able to speak 8 or 9 other languages beside — including Hebrew, Troglodytic, and “Ethiopian”. Why is this not evidence that her mother was a Jew? a Troglodyte? Or, indeed, black African?

    The theory that Cleopatra’s mother came from the Egyptian religious elite has been used to explain why her legitimacy was not attacked by Roman sources, by scholars who accept the accuracy of Strabo’s statement. But exactly the same theory has been proposed for her father’s mother — to explain why his legitimacy _was_ attacked by Roman sources, even though he was accepted as king in Egypt. In both cases, it is purely speculative. It rests on an earlier marriage (whose existence is also disputed) between a Ptolemaic princess (whose mother is unknown) and a High Priest of Ptah. It is the father of this High Priest who is the most likely subject of the statue found in Algeria.

    Cleopatra’s maternal ancestry, regardless of its ethnic makeup, has some relevance to establishing _ancient_ ideas of what constituted dynastic legitimacy. But the argument about whether she was black, like the argument about whether Macedonians were Greeks, is about _modern_ politics. It is tiresome and irrelevant.

  12. duane w roller

    I appreciate a scholar of Dr. Bennett’s stature taking the time to make his comments. While I don’t agree with everything he says, he did point out an error of mine in the original entry: it was not Strabo who mentioned the wives of Cleopatra’s father, but an Egyptian priest. Dr. Bennett also points out the confusing nature of the material, and reminded me of another theory, that Cleopatra’s mother was actually the wife of her father, which probably would reduce non-Macedonian ancestry even more.

  13. Demetri

    FYROM propagandists are out in full force it seems. Why they hide their ethnic Bulgarian roots and pretend to be “Macedonians” is beyond me. One would think they would be proud and cherish their own ancestors-instead of trying to oppress their own Bulgarian heritage. Truly bizarre.

    “We, the undersigned scholars of Graeco-Roman antiquity, respectfully request that you intervene to clean up some of the historical debris left in southeast Europe by the previous U.S. administration.”

    “On November 4, 2004, two days after the re-election of President George W. Bush, his administration unilaterally recognized the “Republic of Macedonia.” This action not only abrogated geographic and historic fact, but it also has unleashed a dangerous epidemic of historical revisionism, of which the most obvious symptom is the misappropriation by the government in Skopje of the most famous of Macedonians, Alexander the Great.”

    http://macedonia-evidence.org/obama-letter.html

  14. nadia

    I have watched the documentary called Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer and it clearly states that Cleopatra had an African mother they based this theory with the recent discovery of her sister’s Arsinoe bones. If any of you are familiar with the story of Cleopatra becoming queen of Egypt you would know that she had to fight her sister Arsinoe to be restore to her throne. It is in discovering her bones that archaeologist, such as Neil Oliver can gives us an insight into the real Ptolemy destiny. To make matters even better they even have a picture of what they believed she even looked like in real life.

  15. Tanya Nevels

    I also viewed the documentary called Cleopatra! Her mother was African, and this is relevent because I will now tell my daughters the TRUTH about Cleopatra. They need to know that this powerful Woman in history ,looked just like US!

  16. Rudy Garcia

    P W Botha former Prime Minister of South Africa was also born in Africa and was therefore an African. We also know that he was white, member of the white segregationist elite and of Dutch descent. Just because Cleopatra was born in Africa does not make her black. The historical reality and fact is that she was a Mediterranean Caucasian of Macedonian – Greek stock.

  17. Paul de Souza

    It still detracts from the absolute truth, that ancient Egypt was a black place for a long time with African language, black cultural cues, and black trade and black Pyramid building, the Ptolemys’ didnt build a Pyramid, did they? No. If we focus on the “Eurocentric perspective” of Egypt it comes across as a European enclave and it is this that angers every Black African, already feeling the effects of centuries of discrimination and historical denials and destruction of thier heritage, Credit has been taken away from Black Africans for the Nubian contribution to ancient Egypt, and it is this issue that creates the furore regarding race and ethnicity of a Pharoh dynasty. Black Africans are central to ancient Egyptian culture, they are not a footnote. Egypt is in AFRICA, not Europe, and there is no such thing as a Macedonian Greek, and May I draw your attention to the work of Hilke Thuer who has deduced a strong probability that Cleopatra was MIXED RACE,m through insight into Arsinoes discovered remains.

  18. Daisy

    I don’t think its fair of you to refer to notions that others have raised as “just silly,” the fact is that we have an incomplete picture, why the door has been opened to such much gossip and radical suggestions, its all fair game in the realm of the imagination and personal interpretation, while she was the last Ptolemy to rule Egypt, and therefore had Greek ancestry as well, with 50 to 75 percent of her background a mystery due to her mother and grandmother all of us can only draw speculations, while you are doing some thinking… at the end of the day you too have to speculate about what might have been, and there’s nothing wrong with that. While she might not have had shared some Egyptian or African heritage… she also *might* have, perhaps it was another culture entirely that we haven’t considered yet, its something that nobody can ever prove one way or the other. I also believe you give a lot of extra weight to the way that she is depicted in Greek and Roman artwork, implying that this proves that she could not have been a woman with a background other than Mediterranean. The word that this “demolishes” the idea I found to be especially melodramatic. I am not a historian, but I am an artist by profession, and I think a statement like you made is almost unrealistically literal when it comes to the land of art. Throughout the world, in ever age, it is a human instinct, especially in scenes of some majesty or beauty, heroism to create art that you can identify with, if you look at an image of the Madonna throughout different cultures, be it Egyptian Coptic art, Greek Orthodox, the Renaissance movement or an African-American church, the main figure they want to convey usually is representative of their own culture. I think rather than telling us what Cleopatra actually looked like, an artistic representation, be it in the ancient world or modern, tells us more about the artist who made it, than its subject. If you look at Greek and Roman art to gain knowledge I think the only knowledge that you would come away with is that it was… Greek and Roman art. As a second point to consider, this is by no stretch of the imagination art of any realistic detail, these are beautiful periods, but it is stylized artwork, a coin bearing Cleopatra’s image may not be anymore plausible as a realistic human being than a tapestry or effigy of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in the medieval era would. These are images of a very heightened, almost caricature-like reality, and not irrefutable evidence of what anyone would have actually looked like, often a work like this is barely feasible as a human being, let alone a specific personage. Third I would argue that it is a matter or perception whether or not ancient art portraying Cleopatra could reflect the East or not, The Tetradrachm of Cleopatra of the Syrian mint to me shows a striking woman whose features are not limited to a specific culture, a lady with thick deeply curling hair and bushy eyebrows, a round face with fleshy facial features, slack cheeks, a round skull, a powerful, strong nose, very large beautiful eyes with heavily veiled lids. It is a face as far as I’m concerned that might appear in Europe, or Asia, Africa, Australia, North or South America. While you ask does it really matter, you’ve laid out your argument with such passion and research that it doesn’t seem that it doesn’t matter to you. I think it is something that would be an empowering thing to remember no matter who you are that you are of the people of Queen Cleopatra. If I were British I would be proud to remember Queen Elizabeth as apart of me. If I were Sudanese I would count myself blessed to have been apart of a culture that produced Taharqa. An Egyptian person might find power in remembering Ramses II, we all want heroes whether it is a Greek person remembering Alexander the Great, or a Chinese man or woman remembering where they came from and their talented ancestors like Emperor Taizong of Tang. Whether it was Akbar the Great or Catherine Great, the human race looks to the past for people that they can admire, so with some doubts as to every part of who she was it is not at all surprising that we might want to fill in the blanks and find away to bring Cleopatra even closer to us, whether that is by thinking of her as a black woman or a white woman. There is power in an image of yourself. It is not because people care about color why people propose different theories about Cleopatra’s mixture of cultures… it is because they care about her, it is in deed her intelligence, her charisma, her bravery and her gifts to the world why we remember her… and want to be her.

  19. sandra

    I always am a bit suspicious when someone says, does knowing the racial ethicity of character in history matters. Especially when the Europeans have gone out of their way to rewrite history to suit their own agenda and esthetic taste. Even the American history and it’s characters have been distorted and it’s not as old as Epypt and Cleopatra.

  20. V

    No one wants to admit in Africa of all places, that Cleopatra had any black African blood. Give me a break. Egyptian blood is black African blood, and they had mixed peoples, too. It’s kind of hard to get away from black blood in Africa. Most dynasties in Egypt hailed from Nubia, modern day Sudan…and Kush…all from Noah’s black son, Ham. So, I’m not convinced that she wasn’t more like a Mariah Carey type. And if you’re talking about her likeness on those coins, that ship won’t float either. Her nose could very well be like that of one of the hostesses on ABC’s The Chew, Carla Hall. Turn her sideways and let an artist go to work, I’m sure you’d get a very similar coin to Cleopatra!

  21. George crawford

    It seems to me that most black people want Cleopatra to be black, and most white people want her to be white, I am a white male in my mid sixties, and I would be happy to find out that Queen Cleopatra the 7th was black.

  22. Rina

    To keep it simple, her race does matter such as any other powerful figure in our history…..

  23. Shara

    I feel that her race is important to a certain degree because I come from a culture (Black American) whose historical importance has been methodically denied and erased. The author of this article dismissed the point that Kate made as irrelevant but she her point is absolutely astute. Please watch the documentary “Hidden Colors” and you will understand why it is important to so many to clarify the lineage of great historical figures.

  24. ptrish

    Seems like she was 1/4 black If anything pers call her mixed and stop Being racist on both sides.the history now thinks most ancient egyptians were super tall red heads and blondes so she coulda had a bit of white,black,and greek .

  25. emo

    All this talk does indicate that Cleopatras “ethnicity does matter”. Personally I take this theory of mine she was not just of Ptolemaic stock, the Seleucids were also inbred to a certain degree retaining the blood of upame or apame, a Persian princess. Then later, they intermarried with the Persian-Greek Pontic kings strengthening the Persian blood. It was then that the first Cleopatra came. She was a cousin tp the Ptolemy but she was known as his cousin. Obviously after that we know that the ptolemy, the later ptolemies truelying became inbred as well as they were the worst rulers and a series of politics took place. I have no other reason to not believe that cleopatras parents were inbred. StraBos statement makes a firm stand but he does not elaborate. With the inbreeding, Cleopatras Persian heritage is justified to its quantity, she was a quarter to this Theory and looks very much like it. Another justification is that she looks almost exactly like her father implying stronger genes or pure inbreeding though her parents were probably double cousins and double relatives.

  26. carloman

    ask any copt (modern descendents of egyptians) if they are black and you will get your butt kicked.

  27. Bre

    Wow. I couldn’t even finish the article. So just because there is no “evidence” she was black African (although there is) she is presumed to be white? And acting ability?? So they couldn’t find a black or brown actress? (They didn’t try to) there were and are plenty of amazing actresses that were more true to cleopatras REAL race that could have given a performance just as if not BETTER. Cleopatra was mixed race, mulatto looking. And the race IS very much important because white people have been portrayed as victors and dominant. Black people are not portrayed this way, and on purpose. White people are always seen as default, when that is not the case. When they portray all powerful historical figures as white, that subliminally send the wrong message. So yes IT DOES MATTER. CLEOPATRA WAS A STRONG BLACK WOMAN.

  28. Mishida24

    It matters, it matters.. And to say it doesn’t shows color blind ignorance. Not something to be proud of.. Little girls and women everywhere need to know she was black. I’m sorry but the writer here sounds angry about the true possibility that she was brown or black.

  29. Eleanor

    “Macedonian greek”? This does not make any sence: it is Macedonian or greek?

  30. Natarsha May

    Simple….Macedonians are one kind, Greeks are another they do not co exist. As for morons stating Macedonians are Bulgarian roots seriously if they were Bulgarian they will be called Bulgarian but they are Macedonians. It seems to me Greeks like to put their finger in every historian pie especially if it involves Macedonia. Lets find out what ancient roots they have come from ???
    Greeks seem to proclaim everything belongs to them. go figure so ridiculous.
    Who cares what color and blood line Cleopatra’s mother is from etc, etc.. she ruled Egypt was their Queen came from a Macedonian Dynasty(Descent)she was clever, highly intelligent, spoke fluently in several languages.

  31. Nick the Greek

    The real battle raging right now is clash of civilizations. We have seen recently, in recent living memory, the slow incremental erosion of Western Culture, Western Civilizational Principles, and Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage…all of these things eroded intentionally, all in the name multiculturalsim. To accomodate large numbers of outsiders into the West, it was deemed necessary to diminish civilizational principles the host culture was grounded on.

    The mindset, to erode (i) Western Culture, (ii) Western Civilizational Principles, (iii) Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage developed from inside the West itself, in the highest echelons of diplomatic office. Anti-Western fifth-columnist mind-architects, working in positions of influence, advised the Western worlds self-styled Guardian and chief Protector to recognize FYRoM like ‘Republic of Macedonia’ – a provocative anti-Hellenic, anti-Western act.

    Macedonians contributed greatly to the development of Western Culture, Western Civilization and Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage. FYRoM contributed nothing towards these things. Why should South-Slavs benefit from Greek achievements! Blurring the distinction between Macedonians and ex-Yugoslavs intentionally, erodes Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage…this is the first step towards crumbling the foundations Western Civilization was grounded on – a provocative anti-Western act!

    GW Bush was the least educated President of all the Presidents of the United States of America…he needed advice on most matters. The advisors that surrounded him took advantage of his handicap, they issued him poor-quality advice, substandard advice, advice that was academically-flawed…advice that was anti-Hellenic at heart and anti-Western by nature. FYRoM is Paeonia not Macedonia. The peoples there are Slavic not Hellenic. Confusing Paeonia for Macedonia and mistaking ex-Yugoslavs for Macedonians intentionally, are anti-Hellenic acts, anti-Western by extension. The President can excuse and absolve himself but his advisors cannot – they committed crimes against the West that are only now, seen for what they are.

    Clash of Civilizations – The West lost it’s way, and in that void, allowed the erosion of Western Culture, Western Civilizational Principles, and Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage to such a degree that anti-Hellenic, anti-Western 5th Columnists fight to have FYRoM re-labelled from Paeonia to Macedonia, in order to usurp the Macedonian name for sovereign state-name, nationality, language and ethnicity. Afrocentrists fight to have Western Culture re-labelled African. Turkocentrists fight to have Trojan history re-labelled Turan history. But worst from all of these anti-Hellenic causes, is the fight to have the Wests history start from Karalos Magnos – Charlamagne 800 AD, completely erasing Greek and Latin contributions towards Western Civilizations cultural development.

    The West did lose it’s way – eroded, damaged but not beyond repair! The Western worlds self-styled Guardian in Chief and Chief Protector is focused like a lazer beam on preservation of Western worlds cultural-historical narrative. Common heritage with clear understanding from whence it began. Western Culture is worth preserving…without it, what do we have, but competing causes trying to erode it!

  32. Theo

    It does really matter since she’s being bad decipted as a white european woman while she lived an old and distinguished african civilization. Ancient egyptian people descendend from black african tribes and middle east people.

  33. Kirk Dougherty

    While I agree with Dr. Roller that Kleopatra VII’s
    ethnicity is of no importance when considering her achievements and place in history, it obviously did matter to the ancient Romans who often referred to her only as “the Egyptian” in their histories. W.W. Tarn thought this to be merely a term of abuse signifying her non-Roman status. However, a good look at the ancient evidence reveals that this was likely a racial slur.
    I find it bewildering that historians have refused to accept Strabo’s comment that Kleopatra’s older sister, Berenike IV, was Ptolemy XII’s only
    legitimate daughter using the argument that the Romans never questioned Kleopatra’s legitimacy. Well, they wouldn’t have given the fact that Rome, in the person of Julius Caesar, had placed her firmly on Egypt’s throne following
    the Alexandrian War. Octavian, the future Augustus and Caesar’s heir, would have been foolish to ignore this. Furthermore, Strabo, who was a contemporary of these personages, was most likely inferring that Kleopatra wasn’t born of
    her father’s sister-wife Kleopatra V Tryphaena.
    That Kleopatra had Egyptian blood, and possibly an Egyptian mother, stems from Plutarch’s inference that she was the only Ptolemaic ruler who had learned the Egyptian language. Many view this simply as another example of the linguistic versatility given to her by Plutarch. However, Kleopatra’s eventful and relatively short life makes the number of languages she seems to have mastered more plausible had she been reared speaking a Semitic language, such as ancient Egyptian, along with, of course, Greek.
    A funerary stele of one of the high priests of Ptah
    at Memphis plus a statue fragment of another found at the site of Caesarea, where Kleopatra’s daughter lived and ruled, illustrates the close relationship between the Ptolemaic rulers and this powerful Memphite priestly family. If Kleopatra’s mother was an Egyptian, she most likely sprang from this influential clan. This raises the possibility that Kleopatra may have spent much of her childhood in the ancient Egyptian capital. Let’s recall that Kleopatra’s relationship with the citizens of the Ptolemaic capital, Alexandria, were always strained whereas that with the native Egyptains was such that they offered to rise up in her defense against the Romans at the very end.
    Finally, there are the two most accepted portrait heads of Kleopatra VII which can be used to illustrate how her face and ethnicity were altered to present a particular message to a particular audience. The Vatican head, though missing its nose, is strikingly realistic and probably as close as we’ll ever get to the real Kleopatra. It is a typically Middle Eastern type with a full rounded lower half, large eyes, pendulous lower lip, and
    receding chin. The facially complete Berlin head
    Hellenizes the same features and thus washes away all traces of the Middle Eastern type. If indeed Kleopatra was of partly Egyptian descent through her mother, the Berlin sculpture would have served to emphasize her Macedonian-Greek blood and her right to rule as a Ptolemy.
    The more realistic Vatican head is generally considered a copy of the gilt bronze figure of her that Julius Caesar had placed next to the cult statue of Venus Genetrix in that goddess’ temple
    in Rome. There was no need for legitimizing propaganda in that case.
    In closing, I’ll only briefly comment on Kleopatra’s skin color by referring those interested to the Fayum mummy portraits which provide a range of possibilities. She certainly wasn’t black. The Romans would have had a field day trumpeting that. Instead, they referred to her as “the Egyptian.”

  34. Darryl

    The Bible is a history of blacks and all you so call scholars know this is true from Adam to Jesus stop the madness Euro- Trash

  35. Shaquon Adams

    You people are notorious for trying to take my ancestors great achievements and over shadow them with ridiculous conclusions based on non circumstantial evidence. So might i proudly as a black man, yes it matters and yes she was of African decent.

  36. Malaika

    My people are Native American, and just as America was stolen from us and inhabited by the white man, which eventually evolved mixing of blood, the same occurred in Egypt. Just like the “Americans” today are not native.historically, nor are the Egyptians who inhabit Egypt today

  37. ShirCora

    It seems…as I read this…the author is truly stuck on the notion of proving that Cleopatra was not black…the question has always been was she White, Black, Greek or Egyptian …when I hear that question I laugh because as a Black woman I reminisce on my life and how I was always taught about Egypt as if it existed on its on axis or something when In fact Eygpt is African…and how the powers that be have tried to separate Egypt from Africa. And doing so is like trying to separate Trenton from NJ as if the two exist alone. Egyptians of the past are not and did not look like Egyptians of today (which are in fact of Arab descent) The famous Egptians or Africans I should say, we’re most likely as black as my beautiful skin. And when I here the question, was Cleopatra Egyptian, is funny because it’s a way of not acknowledging Africa at all. Does it matter if she was White or Black…because we know she wasn’t Asian…yes. And it matters greatly because there seems to be a force that wants to prove she wasn’t Black or African. I have the common sense to know why history has tried to hide the identity of her mother. Maybe because she was as African (Egyptian) as my enslaved great great, grandparents, but you decide! Lol I’m just sayin!

  38. Laura deLuna

    Um… Mediterranean/Greek does not equal white… Their skin tone/ethnicity whatever is closer to that of middle eastern people than anything else… Not Caucasian in the least.

  39. Tonya

    I have noticed that race never seems to matter when a noted individual is deemed an ethnicity other than White. So, when in doubt, the race of the individual defaults to White. If it does not matter, why are the individuals not depicted as as a hue other than White? Why the natural default to White? It is bull when people say race does not matter. If it didn’t matter Julius Caesar could be depicted as Indian, Chinese or Nigerian. In that case, people would say that it is historically inaccurate. When it comes to Cleopatra or Hannibal, it just doesn’t matter. Which only goes to show that it definitely matters to those in power. Guess what, it also matters to people who have little representation in history books because people (especially young children) need to feel as though their ethnicity (which is inclusive of culture) MATTERS. All people need to know what role their ancestors played in history. Bottom line, as historians, accuracy matters. PERIOD.
    Also, check out the BBC’s findings: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/also_in_the_news/7945333.stm.
    Maybe you will believe these credible, White archaeologists.

  40. valeta starks

    I find it interesting that when white women are always celebrated in this racist country, and the mere fact that Cleopatra was black and considered the most beautiful woman,leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of a biased European society. Egypt was eventually ruled by the Hitites, which were African Americans. Because racism such a soulish part of this country,you would rather knock of the noses of great Egyptian statues so no one would know they were african,and say that it could not be possible that one of the most beautiful women in the world was African..check your history…every race in the world was generated from the womb of an African woman…why do you think all races have African DNA?

  41. Son of Africa

    whites are always claim jumping Black history and figures. I would suggest you johnny come latelys to youtube Dr Ben jochannan and dr Henrik Clarke.
    whites are culture robbers.

  42. Cherish Barnwell

    This article is trash… Yes it matters…the race and ethnicity of Cleopatra is essential to her legacy. Im guessing whoever wrote this is white. Clearly. To say “Does it even matter” is ignorant.

  43. Angeline

    The tone of this article is exceedingly condescending, and I take issue with much of what was written. However, this statement is ridiculous:

    “all the wives of her father were women of significant status, which rules out any slaves or concubines, and makes it possible that Cleopatra’s mother was of the traditional Macedonian Greek stock.”

    You’re implying that she could not have had “black” ancestry under this scenario because her father married a woman of status (not a slave or concubine). I think this goes to the heart of why your tone and conclusions are so offensive to people. Since you’re an historian, I shouldn’t have to point out to you that there were many women of status on the continent of Africa and throughout history who were “black.” Nor should I have to point out to you that not all slaves are black. Your logic is faulty and therefore your conclusions are flawed.

    Furthermore, and as others have pointed out, it DOES matter, since European white men have made it their life’s work to hijack the history of other racial groups, while simultaneously denigrating them in the process.

  44. molly

    Doesn’t really give me the information I need.

  45. Aaron

    Plot twist- Cleopatra was nor Greek, nor Macedonian, nor Black African, nor Egyptian, nor Macedonian Greek (whatever that is).

    She was.

    In fact.

    An Olive.

  46. Damien

    I agree that Cleopatra was more than likely of a mixed heritage. But it’s been proven over and over again that the Egyptians were African(Black) scientifically, biblically and historically. So to say that she was part Egyptian but not black is a contradiction. Even the Greeks were a darker skin white people, just look at Greeks today, they are more olive skinned than pale skinned. So if you mix olive skinned with African than you’re looking at someone that was a person of color.

  47. Jazz

    Ugh, is this what they are teaching in universities? White people are culture vultures. They have no real culture of their own. What they do have is bits and pieces of what they stole from other races and repackaged as their own. They are still doing it today. Look at rap/hip hop and yoga. In 50 years they’ll be saying they invented it. In 100 years they’ll claim Martin Luther King Jr. was white and that blacks enslaved them! They are a ridiculous bunch of people and I’m glad people are starting to wake up to their crazy antics.

  48. Justin

    If she were mixed you would need a Black American actress to play her. The problem is that Americans call all people who could play a mixed character ‘black’.
    Writer-A little more attention to nuance in the modern political argument goes a long way.

  49. Matt

    it matters if you believe in facts and historical accuracy. The author made this comment ” It is hard to imagine that race would be more important than acting ability, but clearly others disagree” — then why not cast Cleopatra with a male actor if historical facts don’t matter.

  50. Jon

    “The best evidence is that she was three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian.” According to our American one drop rule, that makes her black. Maybe saying that it doesn’t matter means that it doesn’t matter to you? but I think that it does matter in the larger world outside of you.

  51. James Morris

    This article has so much racist undertone. This is how I know she was a black women. White peoples own ignorance makes it easy to decipher their bs. ” slaves or concubines” being used to describe Africans. Smh so in order for her to black her father had to have slept with a slave? Smdh. But slavery wasn’t about race tho?? Y’all see the ignorance and hypocrisies.? Black people don’t fall for the lies and stop watching anything with false depiction of the people of your homeland. Let them continue living in lala land.

  52. Target Two

    The argument that Mr. Roller adopts that the race of the figure does not matter, only their accomplishments, is purely idiotic. Any real historian, or scholar of any sort, is interested in knowing about the subjects of his or her discipline in entirety, not just what they accomplished. This kind of short-sighted “what good is it to me” perspective is shameful for anyone claiming to have a true interest in knowledge and a respect for their field. If Mr. Roller were truly interested in Cleopatra, or any other historical figure, with the high-minded ideals that he presumes to find lacking in others, he would care to know her for her accomplishments, for her impact, for her beliefs, AND for her physical characteristics, along with whatever other truths about her could possibly be discovered.

    Heck, this article doesn’t even make sense by its own limited argument. Mr. Roller emphasizes how important it is to consider Cleopatra’s accomplishments and legacy over all else. Yet among her many accomplishments, and arguably the one for which she is most commonly known, was her great beauty and, relevant to Mr. Roller’s perspective, her ability to use that beauty as a tool to manipulate powerful figures like Julius Caesar. That aspect of her accomplishments had real, significant results that greatly influenced world events of her time; certainly Mr. Roller would thus have to admit that Cleopatra’s physical beauty, and her ability to use it, is a necessary component of understanding her accomplishments. As such, it would only make sense to possess and encourage some interest in knowing the details of Cleopatra’s appearance, including her race, since that is a primary detail of one of her accomplishments that Mr. Roller cares about so mightily. After all, if one were interested in the details of Cleopatra’s naval command, one would naturally wish to know just what kind of naval vessels she commanded; if one were interested in the details of Cleopatra’s expert administration, one would naturally wish to know what successful policies she enacted. So in summary, Cleopatra’s ability to use her beauty as a tool, even a weapon, had a strong and positive enough impact on her nation’s affairs that one must see it as an accomplishment, Mr. Roller thinks that she should be known only for her accomplishments, and having a complete knowledge of her beauty-as-a-tool accomplishment would only naturally involve a strong understanding of her physical appearance, of which her race is most definitely a necessary component.

    Bad show, Duane Roller. Your holier-than-thou attitude toward natural curiosity in a historical figure only makes you look the poorer a scholar, and your miserly disapproval of what knowledge others seek out, rather than simply applauding others for seeking knowledge at all, is not even consistent within its own dim and under-considered reasoning.

  53. chloe

    Yes it does matter. Maybe you’ve never been the victim of racism, and maybe nobody has never put you down or lost faith in you because of your skin color, but for many colored people it is difficult to find a role model. Many are lead to believe that we cannot be strong or smart as a white person, because we’ve never been represented as such.

    If Cleopatra was colored, and our actors are white, it frickin matters. This says that a colored person is better portrayed by a white person, because apparently we can’t even portray our own color.

    Cleopatra was a brilliant and amazing woman. She is the kind of role model young children who are ashamed of their race and/or sex need to have.

    Stop supporting black face, thank you.

  54. Watermark0n

    Stop getting butthurt over the term “Macedonian Greek”. Ancient Macedonia was located almost purely in the modern Greek province of Macedonia, the people their spoke Greek, and they were ethnically Greek. People from the Republic of “Macedonia” attempted to steal this ethnic heritage themselves, even though they are in fact Slavs with no genetic or ethnic relationship to the ancient Macedonian.

  55. Watermark0n

    “” slaves or concubines” being used to describe Africans. Smh so in order for her to black her father had to have slept with a slave? Smdh. But slavery wasn’t about race tho?? Y’all see the ignorance and hypocrisies.?”

    They were slaves or concubines because the Macedonians ruled Egypt as a racist upper class and gave the native Egyptians little control over their own affairs, reducing them to slavery and serfdom. As there were virtually no black africans in Egypt, she definitely wasn’t a black African.

  56. Watermark0n

    ““The best evidence is that she was three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian.” According to our American one drop rule, that makes her black. Maybe saying that it doesn’t matter means that it doesn’t matter to you? but I think that it does matter in the larger world outside of you.”

    Except Egyptians aren’t black anyway! Even if she was part Egyptian, she’s not part black. Stop ASSUMING that everyone born in Africa is black, that’s never been the case!

  57. Watermark0n

    “But it’s been proven over and over again that the Egyptians were African(Black) scientifically, biblically and historically. So to say that she was part Egyptian but not black is a contradiction. Even the Greeks were a darker skin white people, just look at Greeks today, they are more olive skinned than pale skinned. So if you mix olive skinned with African than you’re looking at someone that was a person of color.”

    That’s never been proven. Stop appropriating the heritage of modern Egyptians by declaring that they had no relation to their ancestors, it’s insulting and racist to Egyptians for you to appropriate their heritage this way for your own racial group.

  58. Watermark0n

    “As for morons stating Macedonians are Bulgarian roots seriously if they were Bulgarian they will be called Bulgarian but they are Macedonians.”

    “Macedonians” are Bulgarians who call themselves “Macedonian”. True Macedonians come from the Greek province of Macedonia, which is at the same location as ancient Macedonia.

  59. Watermark0n

    “and there is no such thing as a Macedonian Greek”

    Macedonian Greek: a Greek from the Greek province of Macedonia.

  60. Watermark0n

    “ask any copt (modern descendents of egyptians) if they are black and you will get your butt kicked.”

    Copts have no more right to the heritage of ancient Egypt than Muslim Egyptians. Muslim Egyptians and Copts are both descendants of Ancient Egyptians, they just converted to different religions (actually Muslim Egyptians converted to Christianity first and then Islam later, Copts never converted to Islam).

  61. Emily Wilson

    I think you should look up the portrait of Cleopatra painted by Michelangelo in 1534 she is portrayed as a woman of mixed ethnicity. There has also been research carried out on the skeleton of her mother with results showing the skeleton to be of African decent. The information is all there you just have to get it from the right sources. Race matters in the case of recognising Cleopatra for her achievements, if she was mixed or of African decent than it portraying her as a white woman would almost seem like an insult or a cover up of a very successful African woman. Perhaps that is why this topic is extremely controversial…

  62. Samantha

    Look at the images of Nefertiti they show a woman of a much darker complexion similar to the people of East Africa

  63. Blue93@orange.fr

    @Rudy Garcia, sorry but you have the “logic” of a 10 year-old “student”.

  64. Reggie Sims

    I can’t believe what I am reading! CLEOPATRA WAS CHOCOLATE DARK!!! VERY DARK!! Egyptian people just became light skinned over the last 800-1000 years!! That is very dumb to think that a Greek was in control of an African Country! DO YOU THINK IT COULD HAPPEN NOW?? Well what makes you think it could happen then!?? THINK!!!! Adding to that Greek people came from Africa to thru migration! Greece!!!! Know real history!!!! The real history! It’s amazing that even today lies are still being told… Look at the time fram draw a time line…sometime scholars are the dumbest.. They really are!

  65. Reggie Sims

    Others who have been lied on…

    Jesus
    Moses
    Imhotep
    Edgar Allen Poe
    Ceaser was a African
    The people of Greece were African
    Original invaded by African Vikings the original Vikings!!!
    So many more… You have to realize the people with the power had control.. To put out the images that wanted to.. Even the pope admitted to changing faces and images!

  66. Kirk Dougherty

    Since my original comment of October 25, 2014, I have occasionally returned to this site to see if anyone of intelligence and education has contributed anything valuable regarding this most fascinating of historical figures. The majority of the posts here come from hysterical whiners who just believe what they want to believe no matter what the facts are. I feel sorry for Dr. Roller because he’s written one of the very best biographies of Kleopatra VII that I’ve
    ever read. By the way, I read my first children’s book about her at age six. The was fifty-four years ago. Since then, I continued to read everything in the English language on her that I could lay my hands on. Most of it was the sort of
    popular rubbish masking as history that one sees on television today. I learned that I had to go back to the ancient sources which in this case are the histories written by Plutarch, Dio Cassius, Strabo and others. So, I think that I’ve
    acquired a certain authority regarding Kleopatra
    which justifies my comments here despite the fact that I’m not a professional academic.

    Within my meager financial means, I’ve also managed to assemble a nice little collection of ancient coins minted by Kleopatra which bear her official image. These are the only extant likenesses of her which bear her name. Thus, it is through them that scholars have been able to identify three ancient portrait heads as representing her. I’ve already commented on two of them here in my previous post. As for the statues in the Egyptian style, there are none that can be definitely assigned to her as none bear her name and distinctive titles. The triple uraeus
    which one scholar attempted put forward as an attribute unique to Kleopatra VII most likely was utilized to identify powerful queens of the dynasty who bore the title Female Horus. Two of the cobras represent the traditional title of Lady of the Two Lands while the third is the Eye of Re
    which adorns the crown of Pharaoh. More than a few Ptolemaic queens, including Kleopatra VII, are designated Female Horus on the extant monuments. Other attempts to identify certain Egyptian statues as Kleopatra VII based on style carry little weight as there are not enough Ptolemaic royal statues which have survived nor known find spots to indicate any sort of stylistic development.

    I will close by making a statement that will certainly ruffle a lot of feathers. This being that the Afrocentric view of history is as prejudiced and misguided as the Eurocentric one. Kleopatra
    belongs to all of us regardless of ethnicity because we are one humanity.

  67. Jamie H.

    It sees important to know her ethnicity is important for those who want to show a great black african leader and female and that was in charge of a great african country. So no it does not take away from her in historical perspective, only enhances it more.

  68. Pastrana

    It definitely does matter what Cleopatra’s true racial background was. If she was black, she should be represented as black. Let’s consider that an actor is black, Asian, or otherwise anything that is obviously not olive skinned or white. Now let us say this actor plays the role the best and is therefor casted as Caesar or President Lincoln. People would be outraged. There’s a deeper reasons that people are upset that Cleopatra is represented as white. For years society has always ‘white washed’ history.
    Now for historical reasons it is also important to be able to identify figures as Caesar, President Lincoln, and Cleopatra as they really were. Even if it goes against what we have believed in years.

  69. Look At the Bias

    The fact that the writer of this “article” would even infer that an Egyptian is a non “Black African” reduces this to utter nonsense for me sorry. I know what has been done to distort and destroy AFRICAN history. I emphasize African because you seem to think that Egypt is not a part of the continent and more like a small town in Sweden.

  70. Cleopatra

    Cleopatra WASN’T Hellenic she was MAKEDONIAN so i think you should stop calling
    her Makedonian Greek because she isn’t gonna
    be happy and satisfied .

  71. Egyptian African

    First sign that this author didn’t know what he was talking about: the title.
    Second sign: referring to the possibility of Egyptian heritage but asserting there’s no way she’s a black African.
    Let me just touch on the first briefly, because it seems most people know that yes, it matters in many different ways, especially with the extensive white-washing of history to take away our accomplishments.
    Now for the second: Egypt is a country in the continent of Africa. Therefore, Egyptian is African. Now, even if she were pure Egyptian, there is a large possibility she would possess a lighter skin tone, as is common in Egyptians. Even if she was mixed with Greek and Egyptian, she would still have a darker-than-Caucasian skin tone. However, given how little the author knew about Greece and Macedonia, I’m not too inclined to believe anything the author wrote.
    Until further evidence comes to prove her ethnicity one way or the other, she was the last EGYPTIAN queen and therefore shouldn’t be portrayed as a Caucasian-skinned woman.

  72. Matt

    Why is it so difficult to think that Cleopatra’s mother was Cleopatra VI? It would seem logical that she would be the mother, since we have no evidence to the contrary. In short, have evidence of who her mother is, rather than speculation without warrant.

  73. sylver

    so she is not black im a little disappointed because there isn’t really any credit for African americans or Africans there are a lot of books about Europeans or pioneer americans but I do love your story your a great writer sorry if I did not put it into the right words im trying my best

  74. sylver

    ok I read a lot of the comments and I agree with a lot of you that she was in fact black egypt is in Africa how could she be pale in Africa it could be true that was greek I don’t know but I will figure out

  75. sylver

    ok I read a lot of the comments and I agree with a lot of you

  76. Mb

    I am bewildered by the amount of uneducated posts on this site. People believe what they wish out of emotion and not fact. The most educated post on this article is from Nick the Greek. His post was factual and correct. Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek.

  77. Denise

    @Mb, @author and all you other Macedonian Greek, Egyptian =non-African black blood idiots……….. you’re white huh.

  78. Sam

    For all you people who believe the Egyptians were not black. Just Google Ramses 3. And amarna mummies DNA. You’ll find out. Ramses e1b1a.

  79. Ms. Šahíyena

    You sound like a typical cacausoid trying to explain away the obvious. At a time when many cultures were conquering others, absolutely without a doubt Cleopatra VII would have been concerned about her own culture, ethnicity, and country and homeland…it was what she fought so hard to preserve! For the record dearest, Egypt is Black Africa and so was Cleopatra!

    Just like the apostle Paul was a Roman because he was born at a time when Rome had conquered Jerusalem, giving him Roman citizenship doesn’t mean he was a cacausoid Roman.

    Likewise, Ptolemy I Soter wasn’t necessarily of Greek descent simply because he was born in Greece or under its providence.

    But in case you have lived under a rock, by the standards of your own people…one drop of Black African Negroid Blood makes you Negro!

    You need to read my Post: “Whitewashing Cleopatra, Egypt, & Black History” This is the reason why we care what ethnicity Cleopatra is/was, to reveal TRUTH that Euro-America worked so hard to cover up!

    https://sahiyena.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/whitewashing-cleopatra-egypt-black-history/

  80. Steve

    You imply she was not African, because he didn’t have concubines, or slave’s?!!!!!! If you knew history like you claimed ,you would know almost every race was enslaved, @ some point. She was not European like you like to portray her.You claim it doesn’t matter, but you go to extreme measures to point out she is so called pure white, put your klan suite away

  81. Cheryl

    Roller, you are a fool!! The sooner you leave this earth the better off everyone will be. You are a fake historian getting paid as some kind of scholar. Univ. of Ohio is dumb and providing you with “white privilege”. You all will answer for your lies and deception!!

  82. wolf girl

    I don’t think that she is greek and why does all the important people in history have to be white

  83. wolf girl

    yah this article sucks barely any info

  84. […] was purely Macedonian, so any actress to play her should be of Caucasian descent. But although the Ptolemaic dynasty was Macedonian originally, we don’t know the identity of Cleo’s mom for sure, so the queen could have […]

  85. Sarah

    I would say it does matter. That is a strange thing for a historian to dismiss.Would you accept a black man playing Caesar? Also, that fact that you state almost conclusively that she was NOT black is very questionable. You do realize that Egypt is on a continent mostly filled with people of color? You do realize that black people have the most varied skin tones and phenotype. Like someone said she could have looked like Carla Hall to Beyonce to Rashida Jones. For all we know Cleopatra was a woman of color. Also, the Egyptians did not depict themselves as white as we see it today so having a modern white actress play an ancient Egyptian is not accurate in the least the proof is on the walls. It is very illogical to think that after 250 years on the African continent the Ptolemies weren’t heavily influenced by Egyptian culture. Saying Cleopatra is more “Macedonian Greek” than African after 8 generations is like saying an American several generations removed from their European ancestors is more British than American. Also, they called her the “Egyptian” signifying her otherness and most likely she was a shade darker than the olive tone Romans.

  86. J.E Murphy

    It is disappointing to see the same old inaccuracies being perpetrated by Afrocentricts. There is no evidence whatsoever that Cleopatra had any “black African” or even Native Egyptian ancestry. The whole idea is based on wild supposition and misinformation. We do know however that she was of Macedonian ancestry and that intermarriage was practiced throughout the reign of the Ptolemies. We also have the coin portraits and a few authenticated portrait busts of Cleopatra that do not indicate anything other than a European/Macedonian heritage. In Ptolemaic society Native Egyptians were forbidden from holding positions in public office, government and had limited rights. There were even separate law courts for Native Egyptians and Greco-Egyptians. What really is truely shameful is how Afrocentrists have attempted to appropriate Ancient Egyptian history and also to deny modern day Egyptians their cultural heritage by dismissing them as “Arab invaders”. It has been proven that modern day Egyptians share the same DNA markers as Ancient Egyptian. Coptic Egyptians in particular can trace a direct lineage to the Ancients, linguisticly and culturally.

  87. Dr. Kain

    Ignorant people want to turn every human who steps into Egypt into a Sub-Saharan African. Please stop it, this stuff shouldn’t matter because history is pointless when you’re trying to pay your bills and take care of your family. I just let the whiners argue about a Macedonian being different from a Greek. Who cares? They were both Mediterranean and I’m sure they were a lot closer to each other in DNA than they were to an Egyptian.

    Stop whining so much over things that don’t impact your life, you’re causing stress hormones to be released in your body.

  88. Nick the Greek

    Cleopatra was Greek from Macedon, with heritage to match. To know Greeks, is to know their history…

    Greeks since the beginning, have been a seafaring International peoples, consequently Greeks met, (married) and intermingled with a great many ‘other’ peoples.

    Greeks are said to be “cousins” to a wide variety of ‘other’ peoples on that basis.

    The Greek character having formed over millennia, can be summarized as being multi-layered and multifaceted.

    Most people would consider Greek peoples as being Mediterranean first and foremost, but there is more.

    1- Mediterranean: Greeks could be clustered together with Italians, Maltese, Spaniards, Portuguese, and to a lesser extent the French, within the framework of a greater Graeco-Roman civilization.

    2- Western European: since, in the West, Greece is considered to be the cradle of Western civilization.

    3- Eastern European: since Greeks baptized Christianized and civilized the Slavic Tribes into Greek culture and (Eastern) Orthodox Religion of Byzantium.

    4- Near and Middle Eastern: since the Greek expansion into Asia-Minor and Asia proper, ensured prolonged ties with Eastern cultures.

    5- Balkanian: Greeks are not comfortable with this term. Greeks prefer the term ‘Haemus Native’ – anyway, a Balkan identity similar to that of Albanians, Serbians, Bulgarians, Romanians, does exist. There are common elements, contributions from the Eastern Roman Empire and from the Ottoman Empire. All of this bears testament to shared common heritage between Greeks and ‘other’ peoples in closest proximity to them.

    Greeks have always been international peoples since time immemorial. The Greek Character is multi-layered and multifaceted, drawing in embedded experiences from five different geographical locations

    The Greeks were never restricted to one location or one particular country, there were no countries with fixed border’s in ancient times. From the river Ibro in the West to the river Evros in the East – That space in between is Greek concept Evropi.

    Greece in ancient times could be visualized spanning from the far West of [Iberia] Spain to as far East as [Colchis] Georgia. There was never a country called ‘Greece’ in ancient times, instead there were many Greeks inhabiting many regions of Evropi.

  89. jagermistress

    What surprises me is not the fact that Cleopatra could have been Macedonian Greek (I’m not arguing that – it seems logical) but rather the way so many people are quick to point out the faults of others with a scholarly background. Oxford, really? Can you not just respect the authority here and commend him for all his hard work and thank him for sharing it? We really need to learn to give credit where credit is due and cease ridicule and reprimand on a whim.

  90. Bizzybee

    Yes, I think Duane Roller believes that the portrayal of Jesus is true I bet. He sees no significance of the white Hollywood industry stealing the greatness of people of color. “Woolly hair?” I guess Mr. Roller thinks there is no intended deception in transferring racial truth to gratify Whites.

  91. Jim butler

    I’ve have read a lot of post. Pro and con but what send to be the focal point is that all that had been discussed took place in the mother land of Africa which is the birth place of humanity. The first law of thermo dynamics is that the hotter can go to the colder but the colder can not go to the hotter.
    A philosopher whose name evades me, and I paraphrase, said that by reasoning of infinite regression all things return to its origin. With these statements being said, the point that I’m addressing is that the origin of mankind begin in Africa which is the mother land. Africans are originally described according the features of the black people’s on this planet earth. If this premises is true then where did white people/Caucasian derive. Did they just magically appear within the last 5000 years to rule the earth and distort history?
    According to thermodynamics hot can become cold but cold can’t become hot and the statement by a philosopher that says by reasoning of infinite regression things return to its natural state. If blacks were to assimilate into the world by reasoning of infinite regression all things would return to its origin state which was black. Because black and white does not beget white but black and white begets black. The colder can’t become hot but the hot can become cold.
    Why should the history of the black people be relegated to unimportant as long as it’s represented by a white person. If race doesn’t matter then why not let history be portrayed as authentically as possible by using the people during that period to justify the race.
    What about this: Metro Golden Meyer presents an epic film displaying an historical accomplishment of struggles for freedom in the sixties by Dr. Martin Luther King played by Tom Cruise.
    Does race matter or just the accomplishment?

  92. Johnny Goode

    Do some research on other Pharos and find Ramesesit was pale skin and red hair. Other research shows Libyan/Egyptians were all white. Caucasians in fact were native to Northern Africa. Black Africans more comm on in central Africa.
    Only during a period lasting 100 years did you see Black Nubian who overran Egypt, not the 3500 years some claim. Fact is there are no and have never been great black Empires in Africa as some like. What you never had, some steel.

  93. CALEB COLTON III

    TO SUGGEST THAT BLACKS WERE ONLY SLAVES BACK THEN WOULD BE RACIAL. WE WERE KINGS AND QUEENS BEFORE AND AFTER CHRIST. IN FACT ONE OF THE KINGS THAT WAS THERE FOR JESUS BIRTH WAS BLACK. PEOPLE LIKE YOU ALLWAYS WANT TO MAKE US LOOK LESS BY YOUR STANDERS. GET OVER IT WE COME FROM ROYALTY. YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT OUR HISTORY EXCEPT BY WHAT YOU WERE TOLD.

  94. Robert Marler

    Macedonians and Greeks , who cares ? Is that what you idiots got out of this essay. The point was being made that cleopatra likely did not have black African blood. Nobody can say anything these days without people coming out of left field to cry about something, get real.

  95. Jen

    The Afrocentrists want ancient Cleopatra to be black because they are identity thieves. It appears they love stealing the identity of people using false information in the past and in the present. They do it with DNA all the time. I’ve seen in the comments above someone saying that Cleopatra was “mixed” or “Mulatto” in appearance but still credit it to a black woman. They (and others) apparently love this lie. It makes them happy to dismiss the actual physical appearance of Cleopatra and just go with the ‘black’ label to satisfy their need to build a history for themselves. The person is stating that Cleopatra is mixed or mulatto but dismiss entirely the other peoples that pass genetic information. The “black” label is tossed and it is expected that reasonable people should just stand back and accept the afrocentrist’s unintelligent thinking system. Identity thieves indeed.

  96. Leopold

    While I do not know the exact racial profile of Cleopatra (no one does), to know how the Egyptians thought about their skin color, just look at their paintings. The Egyptians identified as brown. In the same paintings, you can see them represent Nubians as black. In fact, they represent themselves in a variety of shades . . . in the same painting.

    This makes sense as Egypt’s history is very long and included many conquered people that were brought back as slaves who were then integrated into society. This includes Nubians (who were represented as black) who also ruled Egypt for a time. But it also includes many other people. And it includes the people that Egyptians thought of Egyptian, and they were represented as brown.

    If you want to know what the ancient Egyptians thought of their skin tone, just look at how ancient Egyptians represented themselves. That gives you your answer.

  97. Doel

    The question of “whether race matters or not” and that of “remembering an individual for her achievements rather than her race” are two different things and don’t really have anything to do with each other. We don’t remember people because of their skin colours but because of their achievements. Saying that determining the ethnicity of Cleopatra diminishes her reputation as a great monarch is just immature and doesn’t make any sense. Cleopatra could’ve been of any skin colour and she would’ve been just as popular.
    This doesn’t mean that it’s not important to determine the skin colours of important people, given the history of segregation of people on account of their skin colour through centuries. Whenever we need to assign a skin colour to a person, it almost always is white by default. For example, Jesus has been proved to be of Mediterranean descent and to have facial features and skin colour accordingly, and yet, he is always depicted as a Caucasian even to this day. There are and have been plenty of non-Caucasian actors who would give Caucasian actors a run for their money, and yet, non-Caucasian characters are still regularly played by Caucasian actors, like in the recent film “Exodus” and in “Gandhi”, not to mention Queen Cleopatra herself in multiple movies. These acts give viewers the feeling that the European standard of Caucasian beauty is still considered to be better than and a measuring stick for beauty across all cultures and comes off as xenophobic.
    The European culture is already infamous for centuries of imperialism and acts of cruelty towards other cultures (the imperialism was so far-reaching that most of the world still uses British grammar, with the exception of America).
    Racial discrimination is still a problem in this day and age. I’m from India and even though I have met and befriended some really great people who happen to be Caucasian, I’ve also come across other Caucasians who have ridiculed and belittled me even before actually seeing my face just on the grounds of being from a culture they don’t understand. I have seen many non-Caucasians being bullied just because of the colour of their skin, but never a Caucasian.
    I’m assuming the writer of this article is a Caucasian who has never had to face these things, and therefore, can afford the luxury of not caring about the ethnicity of someone. The reason we want to know about the ethnicity of people we admire is not because we don’t care about their achievements, but it’s precisely the reason we want to know it: we admire the achievements of Cleopatra, and that is precisely the reason we want to know the real her, skin colour and everything. It is so that when we imagine her sitting on a throne and going over battle strategies, we don’t make the same mistake we did with Jesus – so that instead of imagining a Caucasian Elizabeth Taylor dressed up as an Egyptian queen like a Halloween costume, we imagine an actual queen who successfully ruled her people and charmed Roman emperors with her immense intelligence and wit.

  98. Nicole

    Egyptians are brown not black….I thought black people came in a variety of shades…..

  99. Sam Rothenberg

    Wow Doel. I’m impressed. That was a very astute analysis of you. Bravo.

  100. Can

    Even article claims there was blood tie to Greeks, now we know all people genetics in the world are mixed, there is no pure ethnicity now and before (10,000 year ago). OK, the article is extensive discussion by using legends. But some articles have much effort to show particularly Cleopatra as a complete executive of Greek culture and institution; in general aggrandize the Greek civilization. This fact is always obvious, we see it all European’s attitudes because you see an article that is trying to support 2500 year case with some paintings that was figured white people only 400 year ago. Please in this age use genetic studies to talk about ethnicity. If you want to talk about civilization, as you say race should be irrelevant, of course and please refer to before Greeks which were utilised by. Egypt is one of the advanced civilization in human history to teach many things all of us. Otherwise, Alexandria library was not built in Egypt and it wasn’t an oasis of the philosophers.

  101. SHEILA PADGETT

    CLEOPATRA was an African and a Pharoah of EGYPT. And she was EBONY and TAN in color. My wonderful father TAUGHT me Black history because it wasn’t taught in the schools. After years of being told that your people are nothing and come from nothing it is so refeshing when credible African and African – American scholars, historians, social scientists, and anthropologists proved to us that we have a beautifully regal history. Just look at things from our point of view: how would you like it if BLACK historians and film makers were to SERIOUSLY rewrite history by writing books and making films where a Black woman was portraying Queen Elizabeth 1? What if “Hamilton” were a serious drama? I believe I know the answer. Instead of using your energy recommencing this age- old deceit, use your energy for the good like “bluntly” denouncing the NRA and KKK. In fact educate people to know that “Aryan” does not mean “pure white”; it is not even a race. That some of the darkest people on the earth, the Indo-Iranians, are who the designation originally applied to though now it is applied to languages. Write a book or blog about that.

  102. Jen

    No one wants to point out the blatant anti-blackness in this article?
    Evident from the authors supposed difference between Egyptians and “black Aftican blood”…. Egypt has been whitewashed for centuries (given this very discussion topic over Cleopatra’s race and the authors great lengths to distance her from blackness)
    EGYPT IS IN AFRICA! EGYPT IS BLACK! Stop whitewashing history, especially African history!
    Just shut up you anti black racist “historians”

    Educate yourself: https://progressivepupil.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/right-to-death-defining-anti-blackness/

  103. Kemet Prince

    Cleopatra was African. The majority of egyptians in past & present were/ are African. The main issue here, is the white mans continually fetish to steal & claim what has never been theirs. Since their origins. Ancient Egyptians were a mix of African, Arabic & Greek blood. & that there is TRUTH.

  104. Solomon

    Of course for white America, it doesn’t matter because they live in a country where they control the “European” educational system; dehumanizing those different from them. It obviously matters that white America now has to re-iterate the white-ness of historical people that for years have been portrayed as white so they and their kind won’t feel dehumanized.

  105. denis

    Whoever wrote this haven’t study history that well sorry not sorry. Cleopatras father was ilyrian Albania so called today Macedonia is Albania Greece has nothing to do here. Study Balkans before you talk about this because u sound like somebody who don’t know what u talking about . Lol if u gonna talk at least take a really good look at history facts .

  106. vknqueen

    Cleopatras sisters tomb was found and dna taken…they were definitely more African than Greek!
    http://www.ephesus.us/ephesus/octagon.htm

  107. Sam

    Black African queen deal with it.

  108. Sally Lake

    I know a couple of modern Macedonians, and I don’t think they’d appreciate being called Greek or Albanian. However that is pretty irrelevant to the ancient Macedonia of Alexander or Ptolemy Soter. Whatever the Greeks thought at the time, they clearly considered themselves to be culturally Greek, and ethnically speaking would have been closer to Greek than to Ancient Egyptian or African, which is the subject of this article. As for Black women looking for ancient role-models, may I suggest looking at the Queen of Sheba, or Hatshepsut or Nefertiti of the pre-Alexandrian Egyptian royal dynasties.

  109. Nick the Greek

    Cleopatra – http://www.behindthename.com/name/cleopatra

    Names, Identity, History, Heritage, Legacy – These things are important to Greeks…worth keeping, worth preserving and worth protecting.

    Lest we forget – Macedon was Greek Kingdom. Macedonians, a Greek-speaking Hellenic-peoples.

    Cleopatra – Greek names go wherever the Hellenic peoples take them.

    Show Respect!

  110. chandni kumar

    kali means dark/black and putr means son and putri means daughter in Hindi…i am sure Cleopatra derives from kaliputr or kaliputri, which means she could be an ancient dark-skinned indian mixed with greek or roman ancestry

  111. James

    Look at that there are Macedonian Greek’s if that was you only argument fro this article being wrong guess you need a new hypothesis maybe you should spend years doing research like Duane W. Roller.

    Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) are a regional and historical population group of ethnic Greeks, inhabiting or originating from the Greek region of Macedonia, in Northern Greece. Today, most Macedonians live in or around the regional capital city of Thessaloniki and other cities and towns in Greek Macedonia, while many have spread across Greece and in the diaspora. The indigenous Greek Macedonians are descendants of the Ancient and Byzantine Greek Macedonians [5][page needed] and they have a heritage and identity distinct from that of the Slav Macedonians, who now mainly inhabit the neighboring Republic of Macedonia.

  112. Myra

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121501728.html

    Take a look at this article and tell me what significance your expose matters.

  113. Anonymous

    Utterly unsurprising to see so many dogmatic afrocentrists, i.e., historical revisionists, in the peanut gallery. These special snowflakes take umbrage to how little an impact their ancestors made on the world; with little culture of their own and no achievements of note in recent history, it’d be cruel to say Afrocentrism is little more than Eurocentrism in black face because Eurocentrism at least had some basis in reality.

    It’s true that Afrocentrism is pathetic, but it’s especially pathetic when espoused about Egypt by American blacks… _as if_ their c. 1700–1800 West African ancestors even share a common tie with Ancient Egypt. Most of all though, It’s disturbing; this cultural whitewashing (the irony, it burns) by American Afrocentric revisionists is especially pernicious since many of these revisionists are out‐and‐out racists with actual sway in academia.

  114. Tyleah

    OH GESSHH ..!! Just say she was black what was difficult about that .mist figured that out once the writer stated (DOES IT MATTER WHAT RACE SHE WAS)YES IT DOES. And it’s foolish to think other wise.history is history but to try and take facts out of an important part of it is sick.

  115. […] it cannot be repeated in a laboratory. Scientists are not capable of verifying whether or not Cleopatra was actually Egyptian  or figuring out that the Dark Ages weren’t actually that dark. That’s the job of the […]

  116. Gabby

    To assume that only white actresses might be those with superior talent is in fact racist, and only underlines why it’s important for historic women of color to be portrayed actresses of color. Also, it’s not racial profiling if the person in question is white. You could do to research racism, or more, “how to not be racist.”

  117. steve

    One can easily see why she was so attractive to Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony if she was a beautiful fair skinned blond .Alexander is said to have blond hair too and she was the decedent of one of his Generals who came and conquered all the way from Macedonia,a rival to Sparta and other Greek states.My how greatness had spread far and wide.

  118. Deborah Brown

    What an insult to say that the African Queen Cleopatra’s racial background is insignificant and that the focus should be on her accomplishments. When has race NOT mattered????

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