What do historians think Cleopatra looked like?


Quick Answer

According to the Roman historian Dio Cassius, who lived between 150 and 235, Cleopatra was a full-bodied woman with a rather prominent nose. Since he lived roughly two centuries after Cleopatra, his information came from images on coins manufactured during her reign and on stone carvings on various buildings. About a century before Dio, Plutarch, a Greek historian, noted that Cleopatra was rather ordinary looking. Cleopatra was of Macedonian descent, so she was likely lighter-skinned than the typical Egyptian.

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Full Answer

There is no way to be absolutely sure of what Cleopatra looked like. The coinage with Cleopatra's image could very well have made her look strong and manly, as befitting her position. In ancient Greece, even Aphrodite, the love goddess, was shown with a prominent nose and an abundance of curves. In 2015, both women may have been encouraged to diet and to maybe visit a plastic surgeon for some nose reconstruction, based on some modern standards regarding beauty and femininity.

Ancient historians do credit Cleopatra with being charming, having a pleasing voice and being irresistible to the opposite sex. Elizabeth Taylor's role as Cleopatra successfully portrayed those qualities, and Taylor's own physical beauty helped further the legend of Cleopatra's good looks. Beauty standards change over time. Perhaps in Cleopatra's time and place she was considered ravishing.

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