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By continuing to use this site, you consent to the terms of our cookie policy, which can be found in our. By the end of July in 30 B.C., Octavian’s forces had reached Alexandria, and Cleopatra retreated to her mausoleum. Ernst, C.H., and Zug, G.R. As for what really happened in that mausoleum, Plutarch may have said it best: “The truth of the matter no one knows.”. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. The venom of the Egyptian cobra consists mainly in neurotoxins and cytotoxins.

Mattison, Chris, ed.

According to Plutarch, a member of Octavian’s staff secretly warned Cleopatra on August 9 that the general was planning to leave for Rome in a few days, and take Cleopatra and her children with him. The truth, however, remains elusive. Neurotoxic effects of bites by the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje) in Nigeria. Seigel, R.A., and Collins, J.T., eds. A–Z of Snake Keeping (Sterling, 1991).

The venom of an asp—or even a cobra—supposedly killed the legendary queen of Egypt. Upon opening Cleopatra’s note, which asked that she be buried at Antony’s side, Octavian immediately sent his men to investigate. Like all cobras, it threatens by raising the front part of its body and spreading its neck into a hood. Poisonous Snakes (Blandford, 1989). The Death of Cleopatra, painted by Gerard de Lairesse (1640-1711). Greene, H.W. A new, third level of content, designed specially to meet the advanced needs of the sophisticated scholar. The same safe and trusted content for explorers of all ages. A nighttime hunter, the Egyptian cobra forages mainly for toads, lizards, and birds in many habitats, including savannah, woodlands (but not forests), grasslands, and semi-desert.

Two patients were bitten by Egyptian cobra (Naja haje). Oliver, J.A.

Copyright © 1976 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Whether or not Octavian ordered the murder of Cleopatra and her maidservants, or simpy provided her the space and opportunity to kill herself, what happened next is clear: He directed his guards to hunt down and kill Caesarion, Cleopatra’s teenage son with Caesar, to remove any question of the boy’s succeeding his mother on the throne. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Snakes: Their Care and Keeping (Howell Book House, 1998). The other lost consciousness and died within two hours of the bite, but no cause was revealed by autopsy. The body is moderately stout, tapering gradually to a pointed tail. Introduction The Egyptian cobra (Naja haje) is widely distributed in Africa (BROADLEY, 1968). The average venom yield is 175 to 300 mg in a single bite, and the murine subcutaneous LD50 value is 1.15 mg/kg. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, https://doi.org/10.1016/0035-9203(76)90012-2.

When they broke down the mausoleum door, they found Cleopatra lying lifeless on a golden couch, her two servants dead and dying beside her. The scales are smooth, large, and distinct. Snakes: Ecology and Behavior (McGraw, 1993). Solid historical evidence relating to Cleopatra’s death, as with much of her biography, is thin. By continuing you agree to the use of cookies. Venom and medicine. Choose a language from the menu above to view a computer-translated version of this page. Coborn, John. Mehrtens, J.M. Snakes: A Natural History (Sterling, 1994). If Cleopatra did poison herself to death, Schiff and others argue, it’s more likely she drank an lethal herbal concoction, or applied a toxic ointment, as one ancient historian, Strabo, suggested. To share with more than one person, separate addresses with a comma. To re-enable the tools or to convert back to English, click "view original" on the Google Translate toolbar. The other lost consciousness and died within two hours of the bite, but no cause was revealed by autopsy. Seigel, R.A., and others, eds. Snakes and Snake Hunting (Krieger, 1995).

It is depicted on the crown of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt and is believed to have been the legendary asp of Cleopatra. We hope you and your family enjoy the NEW Britannica Kids.

The average venom yield is 175 to 300 mg in a single bite, and the murine subcutaneous LD50 value is 1.15 mg/kg. According to the most widely repeated theory of Cleopatra’s death, she died from a venomous snake bite, inflicted either by an asp (a small viper) or an Egyptian cobra. Is it true? There are several problems with this theory, according to modern Egyptologists. Bauchot, Roland, ed. Behind that image, however, was a real-life queen, who, regardless of her looks, was certainly a formidable leader—and one of the most powerful members of a Greek dynasty that dominated Egypt for more than three centuries. Hearing a report that she had died, Antony stabbed himself with his own sword. Hers would have been a particularly poetic suicide: The asp was a symbol of royalty to the Egyptians, while the cobra was associated with Cleopatra’s favorite goddess, Isis. As Stacy Schiff wrote in her 2010 biography of Cleopatra, the couple dissolved their debaucherous “Society of Inimitable Livers” and founded a new one, “Companions to the Death.” Cleopatra had a two-story mausoleum quickly constructed on her palace grounds, next to a temple dedicated to her alter ego, the goddess Isis. Although bites to humans are potentially lethal, few human fatalities are reported. Phelps, Tony. Those who compiled the most comprehensive accounts of her life, notably the Roman writer Plutarch, lived generations after her death. Poets, playwrights and filmmakers later drew on these sources to build Cleopatra into an almost mythical figure, defined largely by her powers of seduction and her relationships with two Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. The head is small and flat, with a rounded snout. Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images. Living Snakes of the World in Color (Sterling, 1987). Britannica does not review the converted text. One became drowsy and developed transient ptosis 24 hours later. Treasury of Snake Lore: From the Garden of Eden to Snakes of Today, in Mythology, Stories, Essays, Poetry, Drama, Religion, and Personal Adventures (Greenberg, 1956).

Cerastes vipera is a member of the Viperidae that lives only in the North African …

Either of these would have killed her (and her servants) more quickly and effectively than a snake bite.

With no known eyewitnesses to and no primary written accounts of Cleopatra’s death, much of what we know comes from Octavian—who some have suggested is a suspect himself. The underside is yellow. Octavian then made Egypt a Roman province, with himself as emperor; he later changed his name to Augustus. His men carried him to Cleopatra, and he died in her arms. Aymar, Brandt, ed. The following day, Cleopatra shut herself away in the mausoleum with two maidservants, Iras and Charmion, and sent a note to Octavian, who was by then staying in Alexandria, likely in the queen’s palace. In his subsequent memoirs, Octavian/Augustus ensured his version of Cleopatra and her suicide—snake bite and all—would live on for centuries to come.

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