She bewitches Marc Anthony

20120219-Antony_and_Cleopatra Lawrence_Alma-Tadema_

All about her beggared all description,
For she was none other than herself
Femininity incarnate vested in erudition
That no other woman could ever excel.

Her beauty was a perfect federation of
Sensuality and Intelligence dazzlingly
Pleasingly enchanting all in the contact
With the Last Hellenistic Queen of the Nile.

One day, she rode in a gilded barge with sails
Dressed as Venus with her entourage as cupids
And nymphs to meet a Roman general who was
Marc Anthony with untamed virility like Hercules.

For her own person as Venus, the goddess of love
And beauty, she bewitched the general and made
Him her slave of love with all her charms spelled
With the most delightful voice he had ever heard.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Last night, I read an anecdote of how Cleopatra encountered Marc Anthony for the first time as described by Plutarch in The Lives. The most interesting thing I learned about the proverbially seductive queen was that she was not exactly a gorgeous woman with a face that would launch a thousand ships. Rather it was her demonstration of all-around erudition, intelligence of speaking a variety of languages in such an euphonious voice, and her general demeanor, all of which curiously made her enchanting to anyone in contact with her.

This irresistible charm of Cleopatra corresponds to the principles of aestheticism expounded by Thomas Aquinas, which are: (1) Element of being – her existence as a woman; (2) Actuality of Form –  her presence as a woman achieved a higher level of perfection in its form by being beautiful to the degree in which she perfectly attended to the form of femininity; and (3)  Actuality of Action – the manifestation of her intelligence contributed to the perfection of her beauty as regards the aforesaid principles by grounding beauty in whatever she did, thus making her being a beautiful person.

I think Cleopatra was more beautiful and real femme fatale than Helen of Troy, who was said to have a face that launched a thousand ships. It seems to me that Cleopatra’s attractiveness will be no less appealing to the eyes of the modern men than those of the ancient men. 

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