Cleopatra Must Be Smiling

Egypt's Cleopatra might be smiling at Mubarak's troubles as she remembered her own while ruling that ancient country.  She was still a teenager when ascending the throne.

To rule she needed to marry her brother - and she did.  He was able to dethrone her.

When Julius Caesar, the ruler of Rome, visited Egypt, Cleopatra introduced herself by being rolled from a carpet at his feet. Impressed by her audacity and charmed by her beauty, she won his affection.

Caesar drove her brother Ptolemy from power and re-installed Cleopatra as head of state.  She bore Caesar a son, Caesarion. Cleopatra hoped her son would one day become the ruler of Rome.  When Caesar returned to Rome he reconciled with his wife and appointed his nephew Octavian as his successor. Cleopatra came to Rome hoping to convince Caesar to change his mind, but Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Mark Antony, a roman general, praised Caesar with great passion.  He shared the power of rulership along with Octavian and a roman senator named Lepidus.  Cleopatra returned to Egypt, had her brother killed, and married her son to keep the crown in the family.  Mark Antony sent for Cleopatra to meet him in Tarus for a conference.  She came prepared.

Shakespeare put it to words: "The barge she sat in like a burnished throne, burn'd on the water; the poop was beaten gold, purple the sails, and so perfuned that the winds were love-sick with them, the oars were silver, which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made the water which they beat to follow faster, as amorous of their strokes.  For her own person, it beggar'd description.

"Mark Antony declared her Queen of Kings and her son, Caesarion, heir to Rome's throne.  Octavian declared war on Mark Antony, defeated him in battle causing him to fall on his sword and die.  Cleopatra visualizing herself in chains paraded before the citizens of Rome decided instead to invite a poisonous snake to strike and kill her.

Having her own troubles as Ruler of Egypt, she could sympathize with Mubarak who is being horrendously hounded at present.

I visited Egypt in 1968.  The first thing I saw was a funeral procession of a famous general who had been killed at the Suez Canal by the Israelis.  It was my first time to witness an endless caravan of cars covered with flowers.  Upon visiting Egypt's national museum, I saw sand bags piled in place for refuge when Israeli planes came over.  All automobiles had headlights painted blue to keep enemy airplanes from seeing their lights at night.  The people of Cairo were up tight about the war, but there were no crowds calling for the ruler's crown.  I was permitted to sail on the Nile and ride a camel to the pyramids which no tourist nowadays can enjoy.

Egypt's geopolitical place is critical to the welfare of Europe and the United States.

Situated on the Mediterranean and master of the Suez Canal it is strategically primed to be a bane or a blessing.  Should it fall under the influence of radical jihadists, Egypt could become a huge thorn in the flesh of the West.  All eyes are on the well-organized and zealous Muslim Brotherhood that is moving in the political mix to gain power it has been denied for decades.

The Saudis and Israel, along with the U.S. and Europe, cannot allow these dedicated and militant muslim fundamentalists to gain the upper hand and become power brokers in Egypt.  Mubarak is no Sunday School teacher, but he has been an ally of the U.S. and a friend to Israel.  Should the Muslim Brotherhood come to power or even heavily influence Egyptian policy the country would look like Iran in a short time.  As Christians we must pray that Egypt can transition into a democracy in time, but be kept in the meantime in the hands of people friendly to the West.

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