WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY was I not aware of the artwork around Civilization: Revolution?
I mean, I knew of the game and I’d seen the art, but I hadn’t played it because I don’t get enough quality time with my DS to even finish Soul Silver >.<. I was UNAWARE that their Egyptian ruler was supposed to be Cleopatra.
Ok, barring the “omg, how does that ‘bra’ stay up without modern tape” thing, I like this illustration. She’s powerful, haughty, and able to run your puny civ over with her massive army of war chariots that she built while you were still researching Bronze Working.
But she’s not Cleopatra.
Now, repeat after the archaeologist: Cleopatra VII was not Egyptian. Cleopatra VII (all of them actually) was Macedonian Greek and she looked like this:
Come to think of it, why do we even use her in games as the Egyptian monarch anywho? SHE wasn’t Egyptian, EGYPT wasn’t very Egyptian, and she kind of sort of lost the country to Rome. Literally the only game in which this was ever appropriate was Sierra’s “Cleopatra” expansion to “Pharaoh” because it added missions from Alexander all through the Ptolemaic era ending with – you guessed it – Cleopatra VII herself.
“But Jediravenclaw, Cleopatra VII tried to make herself appear Egyptian and had her image carved in to temples as an old Egyptian queen would have! Why can’t the game industry do the same?” you may protest.
Well, sure, but Civ III did that fine here:
But also because while Cleo was trying desperately to appeal to her people as their rightful ruler in a time when everyone was after her crown…and while Cleo was trying also pretty desperately to recover the power her layabout father lost and the trust that her sisters lost and the army’s competency that her brother lost (all of that resulting in the very propagandist images of her as an Egyptian), she was also trying to show to the rest of the Romanized world that she was educated like them, cultured like them, and worshiped Alexander just as much as they all did (resulting in her also being portrayed as she was – a Macedonian Greek). Not that any of that helped her in the end.
“But Jediravenclaw, she was the last ruler of a great empire! We all know her from Shakespeare! … and Elizabeth Taylor etc!”
Cool story. You know who else was the last ruler of a great empire? Romulus Augustus. Do we talk about him in history books? No? Oh wow, it’s like we don’t want to celebrate the fall of Rome by idolizing the child who lost it. Cleopatra idolization irks me because it is celebrating the conquest of the Egyptian Empire. You think you want to play Cleo in Civ because she represents a golden age? Think again.
Now granted, Firaxis has done well with Egypt since then. Ramesses II and the whole 19th dynasty pretty much kicked ass (I’m so glad Civ V has him in the war crown). Hatshepsut and her fellow 18th dynasty God’s Wives of Amun were pretty hardcore – just look at her nephew’s rage at not being king until he was 23 to see how powerful she was. I don’t think Hatshepsut should have been portrayed in a crown made famous by Nefertiti, but … well, hey, maybe God’s Wives liked to share fashion tips or something (and they’re really only a few generations apart).
But Cleopatra doesn’t represent any of that. She ruled in the Greek period after Alexander’s conquest. She ruled from the Greek city of Alexandria. She spoke Greek first. Even her name is Greek. (WHICH btw, I’m still VERY SORE at Firaxis for STILL using the Greek names for the Egyptian cities instead of the Egyptian names – Thebes = Waset, Memphis = Men-Nefer, etc).
So forgiving the fact that she is or was ever chosen to be the Egyptian ruler in any Civ game, can we at least not spread the misinformation about her heritage? It would certainly save poor Fenbab from being subjected to a number of angry archaeologist rants…