Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cleopatra’s Jewelry—Why so Snake-y?

My fantastic editor, Cheryl Klein at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic sent me a little present last week.

(Let me just say that never in my life did I ever picture the words “my editor” and “Cheryl Klein” in the same sentence. STILL boggles…)

Cheryl, The Goddess of Editing, is helping shape up my young adult novel set in ancient Egypt slated for release next summer. She said she saw a street vendor in NYC with this cool snake wrap bracelet/necklace and couldn't resist picking it up for me.

First of all, how NICE is that?

Also, it’s a blast. I’ve wrapped it around my wrists, ankles, neck, and even my pets. The dog tolerated it; the cat threw a hissy fit.

So why is snake jewelry often associated with Cleopatra? The one or two busts we have of the Queen of Egypt carved during her lifetime show her in Greek dress (since she was a Ptolemy). Not a snake in sight.

(Granted, she rocked three snakes on her crown when the Egyptians depicted her, but that's a different post!)

Cleopatra's association with snakes changed as the story of her death slithered into legend. Plutarch said Cleopatra died by the bite of an asp. But then he also claimed she just as likely died from pricking herself with a poisoned pin.

Seriously, though, who wants to believe the latter? Death by snakebite is so much more…. Dramatic. Outrageous. Exotic. Way more interesting than any other kind of death.

So, Plutarch, hiss off!

I’ll stick to the legend. It has way more poison-ality.

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