Much of history is chronicled and understood in terms of myth and legend. Such “historiography” certainly applies to Cleopatra, whose supposed beauty and tragic death have been immortalized in art and media across centuries. In this lesson, students consider whether or not Cleopatra actually died from a self-inflicted snakebite through evaluating the reliability of various types of secondary, historical sources.

Image: Drawing of Cleopatra made by Michelangelo between 1533 and 1534. From the Wikimedia Commons.


Showing the way an image viewed by crowd--the Romans who might not have known Egyptian religious symbols, etc. seeing the image of Cleopatra as a priestess of Isis--could give rise to the snake bite story, and then contrasting that with the S.African article that considers the types of snakes readily available seems like a very valuable lesson. Good stuff! I also like the inclusion of the two hand maidens' names--suddenly they are people with identities rather than silent, two dimensional figures.
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