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Civilizations of the Ancient Near East - Essay Example

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The studies of women of ancient Egypt and the women of ancient Mesopotamia are a stark studies of contrast because both exemplify civilizations that treated their women citizens in antithetical manner. While ancient Mesopotamia epitomized the profoundly patriarchal society where men played the dominant and powerful sex relegating women to playing the submissive and weaker sex where their principal responsibility was the chilbearing and upbringing of the children and the attending to the husbands' every whim and caprice, ancient Egypt liberated its women from the bondage of patriarchy…
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Civilizations of the Ancient Near East
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Download file to see previous pages The life and loves of Cleopatra VII, the Queen of Egypt from 5 to 30BC (Shaw,2003,p.403) had been celebrated in numerous films starred by top actresses like Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Theda Bara, Claudette Colbert, Janet Suzman; in plays such as those written by Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw and John Dryden; TV series; some 20 novels; a ballet choreographed by Martha Graham; hundreds of paintings the most memorable being that of Michelangelo's and sculptures (Streissguth,199,p.101-5). Indeed she is one of the most popular women figures in world history. Most importantly she acutely epitomizes the exalted position reserved for women in ancient Egypt. Together with such powerful Egyptian queens as Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, Nefertari and Tiye, Cleopatra VII's life was a testament of the power and equality granted by ancient Egyptian society to its women during those times when practically most societies relegated women to mere childbearing and other inferior roles in society.
In these modern times, women also carry in their grasp the same power, equality to men and exalted position as women like Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Harlem Brundtland, Gloria Arroyo and Hillary Clinton among others. But the power they hold are not absolute unlike the queens of Egypt. Queen Hatshepsut ruled ancient Egypt with absolute power
Ancient Civilizations 3
for 21 years and earned for herself the title (as ascribed to her by famed Egyptologist James Henry Breasted) "the first great woman in history of whom we are informed" (Joseph & Lewis,1986,p.87). She was also a warrior queen who vanquished the Nubians and then later established trade with them. She was considered "one of the most successful Egyptian rulers of either sex" (Weiss & Rinear,2001,p.24). Another Egyptian warrior queen who scratched and clawed her way to absolute power using her guile, charms and brains was Cleopatra VII who had to eliminate her brothers/husbands Ptolemy XII and XIII and sister Arsinoe to grab unopposed power. Historian Antonia Fraser described her as ascending to the throne of Egypt "through sheer genius for power" and was a master of "power politics" (Fraser,1989,p.1X) having enshrined herself to absolute power by beguiling Julius Caesar and Mark Antony with the use of her wit, beauty and charms.
It is important to emphasize that while the great queens of Egypt were lording it over with unhampered power, women from most civilizations ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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