cleopatra empire

THE SUPER BOWL EDITION

Madonna has continuously created iconic imagery throughout her work and it’s become evident, by now, that no other star in the world, especially from the music world, has been more visually entrancing and richer than her. Take for instance, her Super Bowl halftime show which, at the time, broke the record as the most watched televised event in history and was the first halftime show to get better ratings than the game itself.

Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show not only broke and established records and set trends, it also told a story through historical imagery - and it’s a shame people often misrepresent what was happening on stage (the Kylie Minogue comparisons are atrociously uneducated). So let’s start from the beginning:

When Madonna was announced as the headliner of the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show, countless of articles and petitions were written to criticize and demand a change. Their arguments ranged from “she’s a woman” to “she’s a gay icon, she will ruin the final game.” Some of you might be incredulous about the misogyny in the “she’s a woman” comments about the NFL choice. But remember, the last time a woman had headlined the Super Bowl before Madonna was 16 years before (Diana Ross in 1996). And that is another effect of the Queen of Pop’s record-breaking halftime show: it established the trend of women headlining the Super Bowl.

Historically, women have not been commercially or critically successful at the NFL halftime show - that’s why they had been rarely booked as headliners before Madonna. It took the NFL 16 years to book another woman to headline their halftime show after Diana Ross (love her, by the way). 

But in 2012, everything changed. Madonna’s record-breaking halftime show set the new trend: women became Super Bowl’s thing. They went from a 16-year gap to having women headlining their shows almost every year after Madonna: Beyonce in 2013, Katy Perry in 2015, Lady Gaga in 2017. The only exceptions were Bruno Mars in 2014 and Coldplay in 2016 (but Beyonce had a big “comeback” and stole their show). But did these women receive as much backlash as Madonna did? Of course not.

I see many anti-Madonna folks claiming she copied Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite show at the Super Bowl - but that only makes me laugh at their level of stupidity. Don’t these people have any historical and mythical knowledge? Cleopatra sends her regards.

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love; her Roman equivalent (in mythology) is Venus. Madonna wasn’t representing neither (the Greek) Aphrodite, nor (the Roman) Venus. She was representing Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, crossing “enemy lines” and entering the Roman empire to become their Queen. And so she did. The “gay icon,” the “woman” people complained about entered the male-dominated football field and dominated it: beating the game itself in ratings and breaking televised records.

[Egyptian imagery and hieroglyphs on Madonna’s Super Bowl throne]

If you don’t know the difference between the Greek mythological figure of Aphrodite and the historical figure of Cleopatra, do not write about them. It will be less embarrassing to remain quiet than to compare a golden throne decked with egyptian symbols to a golden seashell.  

Below, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra entering the Roman empire and the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite, Venus - the exact same imagery evoked by both Madonna and Kylie Minogue, proof that the claim “Madonna copied Kylie Minogue” is an uneducated belief, a fallacy.  

Basic bitches make me laugh…

historical women  (+ man) 13/?: Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios, 40-6 BCE and 40-25 BCE

Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios were princess and prince of the Ptolemaic dynasty, and the fraternal twin children of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony…  Their parents were defeated by Octavian (future Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus), during a naval battle at Actium, Greece in 31 BC. In 30 BC, their parents committed suicide as Octavian and his army invaded Egypt. Octavian captured Cleopatra and her brothers and took them from Egypt to Italy. Octavian celebrated his military triumph in Rome by parading the three orphans in heavy golden chains in the streets…  Between 26 and 20 BC, Augustus arranged for Cleopatra to marry King Juba II of Numidia… By then her brothers, Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus, disappear from all known historical records and are presumed to have died…The couple were sent to Mauretania, an unorganized territory that needed Roman supervision… Cleopatra is said to have exercised great influence on policies that Juba created. Through her influence, the Mauretanian Kingdom flourished

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Cleopatra: You will therefore assume the position of a suppliant before this throne. You will kneel. 

Antony: I will *what*? 

Cleopatra: On-your-knees! 

Antony: You dare ask the Proconsul of the Roman Empire 

Cleopatra: I asked it of Julius Caesar. I demand it of you!

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August 12th 30 BC: Cleopatra dies

On this day in 30 BC the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra VII, committed suicide. She came from a family of Greek origin who ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great. Upon the death of her father Ptolemy XII in 51 BC Cleopatra became co-ruler with her brother Ptolemy XIII (and later her other brother Ptolemy XIV). She famously became lovers with Roman leader Julius Caesar, with whose help she was restored to rule after her brother had tried to oust her; she eventually became the sole pharaoh of Egypt. Cleopatra travelled to Rome with Caesar, but returned to her native Egypt upon his assassination. After Caesar’s death, she began a relationship with Mark Anthony as they worked together against Caesar’s successor Octavian. However their attempt was in vain, and at the sea Battle of Actium on the Greek coast in 31 BC they suffered a resounding defeat by Octavian’s forces. The two fled back to Egypt, where Anthony committed suicide after his troops deserted him. Cleopatra followed soon after, supposedly killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12th 30 BC. With the fall of these two powerful figures, Octavian was able to consolidate his rule and become the first Roman emperor as ‘Augustus’. Caesarion, Cleopatra and Caesar’s son, who had been ruling as co-ruler with his mother, was killed by Augustus’s forces and thus Egypt soon became a province of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra remains a famous figure for her political astuteness and remarkable leadership of Egypt and has been popular in art and literature, including William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.