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Cleopatra Costumes

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Cleopatra. Her name evokes images of a legendary love story. She may or may not have been physically beautiful--accounts vary. (And few portraits or busts made in her lifetime survive.) But she was undoubtedly charismatic, intelligent, and a skilled politician--all accounts agree. She was the subject of one of Shakespeare's best-known plays. She's been portrayed on film by the likes of Claudette Colbert in 1934, Vivien Leigh in 1945, and Elizabeth Taylor in 1963. 

The last pharaoh of Egypt wasn't actually Egyptian. She was a direct descendant of the Macedonian/Greek  conqueror Alexander the Great. She became queen at age 18 as co-ruler with her younger brother, and both wanted sole power. Cleopatra sought the support of the (married) Julius Caesar against her brother. A famous anecdote tells how she engineered the meeting by having herself wrapped in a carpet and delivered as a gift to Caesar. She became his lover and bore him a son, won the war and killed her brother in the process. She was now sole ruler of Egypt. 

When she was 28 years old in 41 BC, she met Mark Antony--the love of her life. There is no doubt that their love was genuine--accounts written by eyewitnesses all concur. But the course of true love did not run smooth. Politics and expediency intervened to separate them. Antony and Cleopatra waged a political battle with Rome that ultimately led to both of them committing suicide.  

Why did Cleopatra kill herself? Antony finally lost his battle to rule Rome, and Cleopatra lost hers to keep Egypt as an independent kingdom. They were both captured, and were to be taken as prisoners to Rome. The emperor wanted to execute Cleopatra in public; she used suicide as a means to avoid that humiliation. Did she really use a snakebite as her method? It's likely that she did, though no one knows precisely what kind of snake she used. She may have used some other type of poison. After her death Egypt became a province of the Roman empire. 

If you want to become this enigmatic queen of the Nile, choose one of our Cleopatra costumes. We have styles and sizes for girls and women. We know from ancient Egyptian art the type of garments noble Egyptians wore. Since they lived in a desert climate most garments were white linen. Most Egyptians had dark hair, so if yours isn't you'll want a wig.

And you'll definitely want makeup. Our makeup kits are easy to use, and let you create exotic, dramatic looks. Most ancient Egyptian women (and many men, too) used dark eyeliner.

Next, you'll want to set the stage. If you want to have an Egyptian-themed party starring Cleopatra, think luxury. Cleopatra was one of the wealthiest people in the world at the time. Like all pharaohs, she was proclaimed a goddess. So she wasn't just royal, she was divine! It's likely that she used tableware made of gold, and she had servants to supply her every need. Be sure to include beer in your party menu. It was the staple beverage, though it was likely quite different from modern beer. Workers sometimes received their pay as beer, and there was a goddess of beer. Other menu items might be stews of vegetables and legumes, and sweets made with dates or figs.

You could also have a Roman-themed party as Cleopatra; she lived in Rome for at least a year as Caesar's mistress. That menu would include wine, fruit, bread and cheese.

You've set the stage and chosen a costume fit for royalty. Now act the role. Cleopatra was a queen, pampered from birth and accustomed to getting her way. She loved her country and worked to keep it independent and prosperous. It's probable that she sought alliances with two of the most powerful men in the world for that reason, and love was just a side benefit. Cleopatra knew what she wanted and how to get it, and lived life on her own terms. Roman historians took a dim view of Cleopatra; she was far too outspoken and ambitious for their taste. 

Perhaps watch one of the movies about Cleopatra, or even show one at your party. The best-known is the 1963 extravaganza starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. At the time it was the most expensive movie ever made, and lost money despite being the highest-grossing film of the year. Adjusted for inflation, it's STILL the most expensive movie ever made.

So, have fun becoming one of the most powerful, admired, and simultaneously vilified women in history!