Cleopatra Murdered? Hmmmm ….

Just saw this post by author Pat Brown, who is promoting her work via the Huffington Post … here’s the incipit:

For 2000 years, historians and Egyptologists have written of Cleopatra VII’s death in 30 BCE, repeating again and again the tale that the last pharaoh of Egypt committed suicide along with her two handmaidens soon after the conquering of her country by Rome.

There has been little dissension in the ranks; Cleopatra is believed to have taken her life to prevent the victorious Roman general Octavian from carrying her back to Rome in chains and humiliating her by displaying her in his triumph. Yet, I have taken a radically different view of this episode of history and that puts me in the rather risky position of upsetting a very beloved apple cart in a field I am not even a part of. But, I cannot back off because I believe that Cleopatra has been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout the last two millennia. I believe the evidence supports my theory that Cleopatra was murdered and that the events leading up to her death are not the ones that have been reported for centuries.

I recently gave a talk on my book at the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) in Washington DC and after I shared my theory of Cleopatra’s life and death with the audience, a woman raised her hand.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but why do you think your theory holds any water if none of the great minds of academia and none of the seasoned historians of the Egyptian and European past have ever come up with your conclusions? ” In other words, who am I to question such authority? Do I consider myself to be smarter than all these other people?

The answer to the latter question is clearly, “No, I am not all that brilliant,” and those who know me well will vouch for my IQ being quite normal; I doubt I have an invitation on the way to join Mensa in the near future. But, I do have something which many in the field of history do not; a way of looking at events from a completely different vantage point – through the eyes of a criminal profiler. I also am not beholden to any mindset or to historical tradition or to any institution. I am free to analyze Cleopatra and her life from a very new perspective, one based on evidence – forensic, behavioral, archeological, cultural, political and historical. I am free to question everything and everyone and to accept and assume nothing. [...]

… I’m going to suspend judgement on this one until I can get a copy of the book (why is there no Kindle edition?). We should remind folks, however, the bit of revisionism from a couple of years ago suggesting drugs rather than asps might be involved (assorted links gathered together here: Death of Cleopatra Revisionism Followup). I must mention, however, that there seems to be a certain arrogance in Brown’s claims of ‘superior knowledge’ and the tenor of her post in general … I do want to see how she handles the ancient accounts, however, as I myself am free to question everything and everyone and to accept and assume nothing — as are the vast majority of the professional scholars who have dealt with this question, believe it or not (he muttered, sarcastically). I do get weary of ‘outsiders’ claiming those who do ancient historical research for a living are necessarily doing flawed research that isn’t based on evidence. Judging from the tenor of the Huffington Post piece, I would be surprised if I wasn’t  labelled a part of some sort of sleeper cell of Plutarchian theology or some such. Still, it will be useful to see that Brown brings to the discussion …

UPDATE (a few minutes later): here’s Pat Brown’s background (via the ARCE DC chapter’s page about her talk … not sure how long it will be there):

Pat Brown is a nationally known criminal profiler, television commentator, author, and founder and CEO of The Sexual Homicide Exchange (SHE) and The Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency.

Pat has provided crime commentary, and profiling and forensic analysis in over one thousand television and radio appearances in the United States and across the globe. She can be seen regularly on the Cable Television news programs MSNBC, CNN, and FOX, and is a frequent guest of  Nancy Grace, America’s Most Wanted, and The Montel Williams Show.

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10 thoughts on “Cleopatra Murdered? Hmmmm ….

  1. There IS a Kindle edition! Also, I clearly was stating I am NOT superior in any way, that I just had a completely different approach to the study of history and I am not beholden to any academic or political organizations. As a profiler, I often get great viewpoints from people – not profilers – who might see things differently than me – including children as we saw occur in the story, The Emperors’ New Clothes. Anyway, I hope the evidence I present sparks a new interest in the history of Cleopatra and conversation, even if it is includes challenges to my theories! Cheers! Pat Brown

    • I didn’t see the Kindle edition listed at Amazon, but I’ll check again …

      When you say you are not beholden to anything, you are implying that the people who have examined and who do examine questions like these on a daily basis are. We are not beholden to anything except the evidence that is provided by the ancient sources. That said, I am interested to see what you can add to the discussion … as mentioned above, a German professor was suggesting aconite poisoning, but that theory doesn’t seem to have gone much beyond a television program. Thanks for responding …

      • Yeah, Amazon has that rather screwed up! The publisher has put a request in for it to be fixed. As to the “beholden” issue, what I mean is that many times in academia as well as police departments, the medical profession, and other organizations, there may be a limit to how much someone can go outside of the present accepted viewpoint without possibly doing in one’s career. So there is a tendency to be a bit hesitant to rock the boat or stick one’s neck out. At this point in my life, I just happen to have the ability to be more vocal than many, to be able to take risks that for others may just not be so comfortable. As to “evidence” provided by the ancient sources….well, ancient sources can provide information but whether it qualifies as “evidence” is another matter. You will see in my book that I take ancient accounts as one source of input but I analyze what has been written to determine how many credibility I should give the account. And to do so, I have to take into account other sources of information and evidence that will support the ancient source or refute it.

      • It’s on its way to my kindle … should be there tomorrow, apparently. For the record, I’ve never come across a classicist or ancient historian who felt they couldn’t go beyond the accepted viewpoint (with one exception, but that in a religious school situation). Rocking the boat is what most of us like/want to do … but we know we have to support what we say. We’ll likely be picking this up later in one form or another.

      • Interesting…because I have experienced the opposite and I have discussed the issue with academics who have admitted to me that they are extremely cautious about being too radical (and I say this, knowing that they are radicals out there, but perhaps this much depends on the situation and subject matter). I have found it odd how the history of Cleopatra has been so little challenged.

      • Were those academics classicists? Or are we just talking generic academics? The history of Cleopatra is one of many subjects in my field which is constantly being challenged, usually by outsiders (e.g. a Dominican lawyer claiming she is excavating Cleopatra’s tomb, or an anthropologist who claims to have identified the tomb of arsinoe and makes racial judgements based on the bones which are supposedly hers, but there are also conferences devoted to questions about whether Cleopatra was good looking or not (connected to the exhibition of a few years ago). For the record, the tomb thing has yet to pan out, the arsinoe thing rests on incredibly shaky evidence, and the debate over Cleopatra’s beauty goes on. Please don’t mischaracterize my discipline …

      • Please don’t mistake my commentary on this; no intention to dis anyone. BTW, I went out to the site Dr. Hawass and Dr. Martinez are excavating…very exciting. Again, I am not saying there are not those questioning certain aspects of things: I am just saying that there can be a reluctance to take a major stand that veers far off the grid. This happened quite clearly with the asp story. Before I did the Discover documentary, pretty much across the board, no one challenged the asp theory. Just a whisper here and there. After I did my analysis and stated on air the evidence I believed refuted the snake suicide story, I have seen a marked change in the writings of Cleopatra’s death and now it seems the asp concept is being dismissed and most seem to be going to poison (they haven’t yet embraced the possibility of homicide over suicide…I shall see if my analysis sways anyone in that direction). Most importantly, I hope to open up more discussion on the matter of Cleopatra’s life and death and encourage more skepticism of the ancient historians. They may be all we have on certain subjects but it doesn’t mean they are accurate or truthful. Tricky issue!

      • i think Im going to let you have the last word on this. It’s pretty clear you don’t know what ancient historians actially do,

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