The CNN Article “Mysterious Cleopatra has 21st-century defender” starts out fascinating, talking about a female Egyptian archaeologist who took exception to the negative portrayal of Cleopatra and is working to improve her image by conducting new research (there’s a possibility she will actually find Cleopatra’s tomb!) and writing a book telling the “real” story of Cleopatra, who, she says, “spoke nine languages, she was a philosopher, she was a poet, she was a politician, she was a goddess, and she was a warrior.”
However, the article doesn’t really get better after that line– it doesn’t offer any information on the specific information that Kathleen Martinez is trying to refute, or what her research has uncovered so far. Instead, it returns to the Is Cleopatra Ugly?!?! question! Because, you know, that’s the most important thing about her. It’s nothing new at all– there were some coins with her face that looked ugly, but she had to have been pretty, because nobody could have loved her if she was ugly.
But then it does get interesting, with some gender-neutral looksism:
The same researchers didn’t have a very flattering assessment of Marc Antony either, saying he had “bulging eyes, a large hooked nose and a thick neck.” No Richard Burton.
This does contradict Plutarch’s description of Marc Antony as having “a noble dignity of form; and a shapely beard, a broad forehead, and an aquiline nose [that] were thought to show the virile qualities peculiar to the portraits and statues of Hercules”?
I really just have to say… no. The description of Mark Antony as having “a large hooked nose” does not contradict the description of him having “an aquiline nose.” They are the same thing. That’s what “aquiline” means. “Curving like an eagle’s beak.” From wikipedia: An Aquiline nose (also called Roman nose, hook nose or beak nose) is a human nose with a prominent bridge, giving it the appearance of being curved or slightly bent.
Is it sad that that’s the error that motivates me to blog this? Not the weirdly patronizing tone that the journalist takes towards the archaeologist; not the omission of Cleopatra’s story; not the really boring obsession with her looks; not even the poorly-written way the whole thing trails off into bizarre theories about the Egyptian pyramids and the Sphinx. No, the part that annoys me most is the fact that the journalist didn’t know what an “aquiline” nose looked like, and didn’t even bother to google it.
Seriously, dude. The rest of it would have taken time and thought to fix. “Aquiline” you could have figured out for yourself.