Perhaps one of the most well-known Egyptian pharaohs, Cleopatra VII Philopater ("father-lover") has captured the imaginations of countless artists and authors. In William Shakespeare's The Tragedie of Anthonie, and Cleopatra, (better known as Antony and Cleopatra), John Dryden's All for Love, Victorien Sardou's Cleopatra, George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, and the numerous Cleopatra-peopled films of the twentieth century, each artist has invested his own period's interpretation in the lady. Any study of the costumes worn on the stage and screen by actresses playing Cleopatra VII first requires familiarity with what the Egyptian pharoah herself might have worn. To do this, the costumes described can be divided into two categories: those worn as "everyday" clothes and those worn for state or religious occasions.
The clothes worn as everyday dress were probably Hellenic Greek in origin, for Cleopatra was a Roman-sponsored monarch, whose Greek ancestors had ruled Egypt since the death of Alexander the Great. This Roman apparel, described by Barton (1961), was based on Greek dress. It consisted of an underdress of soft linen or silk (the tunica interior) and a long over-robe (the stola) of the same material. Over these two garments would be worn the palla, or draped outer-cloak.
Barton describes the range of color for this ensemble:
Colors mentioned in contemporary texts include scarlet, violet, mari-gold yellow, crocus yellow, hyacinth-purple (which would be nearer our modern shade than the Tyrian), rust, sea-green or blue, and green. Probably the tints of the garments themselves were fairly light and bright (not what we understand by "pastel," but stronger) and designs were applied in deeper tones. (p. 88)
On her feet, if she wore complete Roman garb, Cleopatra could wear either sandals (solae) for house-wear or shoes (calcei) if she went outdoors. Those shoes were made of leather and also varied in color from white to red, green or pale yellow.
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