• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home The Feuilleton of MilSan and MikWag The Last Pharaoh - or - Cleopatra VIII?

The Last Pharaoh - or - Cleopatra VIII?

…in Egypt thousands of people will fight for their fundamental human rights, a struggle that has very little to do with your [Americans'] opinions on anything.

Alex Pareene in Salon.com


Everybody should calm down, stop speculating, and consider some facts about Egypt:


I.  Hosni Mubarak isn’t going to step down voluntarily -- he hasn’t even begun construction of his pyramid!  A caveat: If the protesters were to form into slave brigades and start rolling 2.5 ton blocks into Liberation Square… or rename an existing one…


II.  If the Egyptians choose democracy, things will work out just fine.  Egyptians are at least as well informed as Americans, and -- in their favor -- have fewer guns and religious nut jobs.


III.  It isn’t like they've never had a revolution.  Egyptians revolted against Great Britain after WWI, and they didn’t even have to write their own Declaration of Independence.  Great Britain issued one, unilaterally, on February 22, 1922.


IV.  Egypt even has a coup d’état in its history books, dated 1952.


V.  Egyptians have way more experience with different forms of government than Americans.  In addition to parliamentary and republican experiences, they are quite familiar with “semi-presidential republic under Emergency Law" (Law No. 162 of 1958), which has been in effect since the Six Day War in 1967.  Egyptians even know how to vote, although admittedly they are not used to seeing more than one recognizable name on the ballot, and may feel lonely or insecure in the absence of heavy police supervision.


VI.  The worst case is that Egypt and the Nile will flow on under dynastic rule (e.g., Law No. 162 of 1958).  That’s where the leader tries to pass on the power to his kids, like Pharaoh Hosni the First was thinking of doing this year by grooming his son Gamal.  The worst-case scenario is not Fundamentalist Theocracy.  Egypt's soldiers are less likely to stand for that than America's.


VII.  Which brings us to the subject of Cleopatra VII (69 B.C. – August 12, 30 B.C.) whose roman numerals indicate that she was part of a dynasty.  She ruled over Egypt for 22 years, less time than Hosni the First.  Cleopatra inherited Egypt as a member of the Ptolemaic Dynasty after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt; had children with Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.  She was Greek -- the first Greek pharaoh to speak Egyptian (not to mention eight other languages) -- and she was the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt.


Cleopatra wasn’t a slut, but she was indecent in her ambition to build a powerful and prosperous empire.  Thanks to Stacy Schiff, we know for sure that she was “a capable, clear-eyed sovereign, she knew how to build a fleet, suppress an insurrection, control a currency, alleviate a famine.”


Obviously, Cleopatra didn't know everything.  For example, “she didn’t know that she was Cleopatra VII for several reasons, one of which is that she was actually the sixth Cleopatra.”


But Cleopatra knew what was important and, unlike Pharaoh Hosni, she knew when it was time for her to go.


VIII?  A prediction from the Oracle of Delphi:  On August 12, 2011 A.D., there will be a NY Times headline "Cleopatra VIII?"   It will be about the announced candidacy for elected president of the newly democratic Egypt of An Accomplished Woman.  She won't necessarily speak nine languages or have slept with the two most powerful men on earth (don’t worry Michelle and Mrs. Hu).  For the contemporary Cleopatra, it will be sufficient that she speak just three, and she can be married to a regular Egyptian man, or not, and she, or they, and the country, will live happily ever after.