Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today in History: Cleopatra's Suicide

According to some sources, Cleopatra committed suicide on this day in 30 BC [On this day: August 30]. Other sources say it was August 12th and still others claim that it was on the last day in August.

The situation was serious. The armies of Mark Antony and Cleopatra has just deserted to Octavian and Antony had committed suicide. Cleopatra was a prisoner in Alexandria. She had no hope of escaping Octavian.

Legend has it that she died after being bitten by an asp but it wasn't the modern asp, Vipera aspis, since that snake is only found in Europe. It's likely that the Romans used the word "asp" to describe all poisonous snakes. If it's true that Cleopatra used a snake to commit suicide then it was most likely the Egyptian cobra Naja haje that did the deed [Cleopatra’s Asp].

More at Being Cleopatra

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