Flight of fantasy into ancient Egypt

IF you could walk into a time tunnel and come out the other side in another era, where would you go? After visiting Egypt earlier this year, Evening Star features editor TRACEY SPARLING, would be Cleopatra in 48BC.

IF you could walk into a time tunnel and come out the other side in another era, where would you go?

After visiting Egypt earlier this year, Evening Star features editor TRACEY SPARLING, 33, would be Cleopatra in 48BC.

Back in March 51 BC when I was 17 and my brother Ptolemy XIII , 12, we were joint monarchs.

The first three years of our reign were difficult, due to economic difficulties, famine, deficient floods of the Nile , and political conflicts.


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But although I was married to my young brother - I hasten to add the union was never consummated - I had no intention of sharing power with him.

I dropped Ptolemy's name from official documents and my face appeared alone on coins, which went against tradition of female rulers being subordinate to male co-rulers.

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Suddenly a crowd of courtiers removed me from power and made Ptolemy sole ruler. Earlier this year. I tried to raise a rebellion, but was soon forced to flee Egypt.

While I was in exile, that silly young fool Ptolemy, still only 15 years old, had one of his soldiers murder Pompey the Great to please Julius Caesar and become an ally of Rome, to which Egypt was in debt. This was a catastrophic miscalculation on Ptolemy's part.

When Caesar arrived in Egypt two days later, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey's severed, head and Caesar was enraged because, although he was Caesar's political enemy, Pompey was a Consul of Rome and the widower of Caesar's only legitimate daughter Julia, who died in childbirth.

In his fury, Caesar seized the Egyptian capital Cairo and imposed himself as arbiter between Ptolemy and I.

This situation cannot last. I know I have to do something - and fast.

Together with my most faithful servants, I hatch a plot to return to the palace where I should rightly be.

How should we get past the many ranks of guards to appeal to Caesar and reclaim my place as queen?

Scouring the room for ideas, I spot the new Persian carpet with its exotic swirls and rich red hues, unlike nay Caesar will have in the palace.

It's just about my size and if I lie very still, the rolls of thick pile could conceal me from view.

An idea starts to form as I bathe in milk that night, and I explain my plan for the following evening to the most trusted of my many servants.

The next day I make a long hot journey to the palace, hidden in the back of a chariot, past my country's people living in mudbrick homes, as they work in the fields as farmers, craftsmen and scribes.

In a quiet courtyardat the back of the palace, I climb into the roll of carpet under cover of darkness as night descends once more.

The close atmosphere finally eases, relenting to the first patter of rain and my servants carry me hastily to the doorway.

We have timed our arrival well. Caesar has just finished his supper, and is ready to receive the day's gifts and messages from his admirers. It takes four servants present the roll of carpet to Caesar.

One summons his courage to say: “It is a gift from from afar.”

As they stoop to unroll the carpet, I am at last free. I tumble out, my hair flying across my flushed face, and try not to smudge the kohl lining my dark eyes.

I trust that beauty is on my side, but with my patron goddess is Isis - many say I am the re-incarnation and embodiment of her - I have her wisdom too.

The great man Caesar simply stares. His eyes narrow slightly as he assesses the sight before him.

I wait for a reaction, from this powerful man many years my senior.

A flash of sudden thunder drowns the place in a bright white light, followed by a crash of thunder.

Any lesser woman would be trembling by now, but I stand strong, drawing my courage from being back in the opulent hall which used to be the heart of my empire.

I stand before the marble pillars surging towards the sky, lit by torches lining the walls.

Then I thank the gods, as Caesar's craggy face relaxes at last.

He is charmed by the gesture, I can see.

In time I become his mistress. The almost 30-year age difference - I am 21 and he is 50 - doesn't matter.

Of course the liaison should solidify my grip on the throne, but despite that political gain, I come to love him in time.

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Which period in history would you like to go back to, and why?

Perhaps you'd like to change the course of history - and what would happen if you did?

To star in Time Tunnel, just get your imagination in gear and tell us your thoughts. Send a story of about 700 words to tracey.sparling@eveningstar.co.uk or post to Features Desk, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

Famous faces:

Ptolemy XIII

Julius Caesar

Mark Antony

Cleopatra

Inventions:

Paper

Scissors

Brilliantly-coloured dyes and inks

Toys and games:

Throwing stone balls along a lane was a precursor to bowling.

Scenes from tombs show groups of girls juggling two and three balls at once, gymnastics, and kicking a ball with their legs and passing it to each other - perhaps the early form of football.

Cleopatra has been portrayed in film by many actresses, ranging from Elizabeth Taylor alongside Richard Burton in the 1963's blockbuster Cleopatra, to Amanda Barrie in Carry on Cleo (1964).

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