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  • Why is Cleopatra black?!

    It makes absolutely no sense.


    First off the Egyptians did not look like sub-Saharan Africans, this is clear from their portrayal of Nubians and the descriptions of Egyptians by other peoples. They were in various sources compared to people like the North Africans, Mesopotamians and to Northern Indians. This means they most likely comparable both in complexion comparable and appearances to most Mediterranean peoples.


    I think it would be most logical for them to at leas vaguely resemble modern Egyptians.


    Check the Civ Rev leaders out on the game's new webiste


    In any case that is not the real problem, even if the Egyptians were identical in apperances to subsharan peoples, that would not change something rather important. You see Cleopatra was of Greek descent.







    This is just silly! I’m no realism/history buff, I never expected Cleopatra to be portrayed realistically. I mean it is well know that she was in fact rather plain, but I don’t expect firaxis to go against popular culture and make Cleopatra anything less than hot. But if they are going down this road, why not make make Alexander a blonde? Make Monty look like a north African? Or give old Shaka red hair? Have Tokugawa look European?
    Last edited by Heraclitus; March 28, 2008, 15:32.
    Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
    The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
    The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

  • #2
    I see your point, but I don't agree. Cleopatra was Greek (Macedonian) and an Egyptian ruler. That shouldn't discount her. Catherine the Great of Russia was a German princess. Do you want her out off the other Civ renditions?
    "What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
    I learned our government must be strong. It's always right and never wrong,.....that's what I learned in school."
    --- Tom Paxton song ('63)

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    • #3
      Ehhh, I never said she should not be the Egyptian leader.
      Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
      The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
      The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

      Comment


      • #4
        He probably misread the title as 'why is cleopatra BACK'.

        I misread it at first, too, but quickly figured out what you were talking about by the OP.

        As for the topic at hand, CivRev is hardly the first depiction of a black Cleopatra, plenty of hollywood portrayals already, and it falls into artistic liscense and a sense of trying to get some balance, I would assume.

        And

        why not make make Alexander a blonde?
        I thought they did? Maybe I'm not recalling all the leaders right...
        One who has a surplus of the unorthodox shall attain surpassing victories. - Sun Pin
        You're wierd. - Krill

        An UnOrthOdOx Hobby

        Comment


        • #5
          But It makes no sense, and the majoirty of portrayals of Cleopatra were quite different. In fact I can't rember ever seeing a "black" Cleopatra.


          Also, if they wanted balance they could have made another african civ.


          And I've just checked they did make Alexander a blond. :/ But hair color is not that much a change than to make the avatar completley different from the historical leader it is supposed to represent.
          Last edited by Heraclitus; April 3, 2008, 17:49.
          Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
          The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
          The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

          Comment


          • #6
            "sense" doesn't count in artistic liscence.

            Google image search on Cleopatra, page 1:

            http://images.google.com/images?hl=e...-revision&cd=3

            3 black Cleopatra's, and an egyptian papyrus you could argue either way. Civ Rev is hardly unique here.
            One who has a surplus of the unorthodox shall attain surpassing victories. - Sun Pin
            You're wierd. - Krill

            An UnOrthOdOx Hobby

            Comment


            • #7
              We don't have any reliable historic depictions of Cleopatra, we have zero hard evidence of what she *really* looked like. There are many theories, some better than others, but they're all merely theories in the end.

              The depictions of her in Western culture that Firaxis frequently draws from for much of their artwork of ancient leaders have changed quite a lot over time. Until the 18th c. Cleopatra always looked distinctly Western European (not even Greek, more like English or French) as that was what people identified with, in the 18th and 19th c. she was usually portrayed as very dark-skinned (but not usually outright black) as that was exotic and that was all the rage back then, and in the 20th c. her depictions have been all over the map, from black to Middle Eastern/Mediterranean to white and just about everything in between -- and a lot of the time political motivations played into the decision making process there. If you've never seen any depictions of a dark/black Cleopatra then that frankly says far more about your own cultural background than about Cleopatra or Firaxis.

              Firaxis tends not to just completely make sh*t up with their artwork, they need to use something as basis for their models. So they have to go with *something* and they happened to go with a depiction of Cleopatra in which she has a fairly dark skin (although not nearly as dark as in some depictions I've seen). Not sure that you can really fault them for that, or for anything else they could've chosen as their basis -- while some depictions are better than others, every single one of them is far more based on conjecture than on fact.

              And on top of that, as always, gameplay trumps reality: Firaxis has to make sure she's recognisable to all players, so their depiction has to take into account what most people with little or no knowledge of history expect Cleopatra to look like, and not many of such people would expect her to look Greek.
              Administrator of WePlayCiv -- Civ5 Info Centre | Forum | Gallery

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              • #8
                Well, to be completley honest I have seen a black Cleopatra but it was in the same book that claimed that white people werent really people, it was quite Afrocentric.

                But even this book had the decency to at least explain away Cleopatras ancestry as a hoax. I must say Firaxis has done an aweful job, why didn't they simply make her dark skinned but with mediternaean/arab features like they did with Hachepsut? If all they really wanted was for the pic to be instantly recognisable?


                @ UnOrthOdOx: A google search is not always a good parameter, but if you insist on making it. Then Cleopatra appearently looked European.

                The only two pics showing a "black" Cleopatra are the ones where she is depicted by African-American actresses (one of those being Tinat Turner).

                Now looking at they paypirus, that dosen't seem subsaharna african to me, it looks like people from north africa or India. Also it is a very generic representation, since the Egyptians were not concerned with realism.
                Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
                The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
                The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Locutus
                  And on top of that, as always, gameplay trumps reality: Firaxis has to make sure she's recognisable to all players, so their depiction has to take into account what most people with little or no knowledge of history expect Cleopatra to look like, and not many of such people would expect her to look Greek.

                  I'm sorry I don't see how the old gameplay vs. realism comes into play here Locutus. The appearances of a leader have nothing to do with gameplay. Sure people can enjoy the game if the leader pics are pretty but that is also not covered under "gameplay". I'm very dissapointed that you have brought something like that up, when it makes no sense.



                  I'm not arguning she should look Greek! I'm arguing she should look Egyptian (since a very tanned Greek might pass as an Egyptian). But if you think we should submit to stuff like that, why shouldn't we rewrite the civilopedia entry about oh, lets say a mongolian leader or about Islam according to what the average consol player expects to find there.
                  Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
                  The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
                  The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Heraclitus
                    @ UnOrthOdOx: A google search is not always a good parameter, but if you insist on making it. Then Cleopatra appearently looked European.

                    The only two pics showing a "black" Cleopatra are the ones where she is depicted by African-American actresses (one of those being Tinat Turner).

                    Now looking at they paypirus, that dosen't seem subsaharna african to me, it looks like people from north africa or India. Also it is a very generic representation, since the Egyptians were not concerned with realism.
                    I've never claimed to know what she looked like, or that anything was an accurate perception of what she looked like, or that she SHOULD be looking a particular way. I have only claimed that Civ Rev is far from the first to depict a black Cleopatra. It is fairly old-hat, frankly, and not really at all surprising. It is a bit surprising to me you have never really seen such references before, or that you consider it an issue.

                    And, frankly, google image IS the place to go looking for pop culture references, which is all I've ever claimed. Yes, the pictures are from African-American actresses. As I stated above in the first post, Hollywood had depicted a black Cleopatra, that would likely mean African American actresses.
                    One who has a surplus of the unorthodox shall attain surpassing victories. - Sun Pin
                    You're wierd. - Krill

                    An UnOrthOdOx Hobby

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What are you on about? I'm trying to point out that pop-culture refernces are more in favor of a "white Cleopatra" which is just as silly as a "black Cleopatra". You are just trying to make it seem I am arguing something I am not.



                      Example of a "white Cleopatra"
                      Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
                      The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
                      The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Doesn't matter which is more or less. I'm only stating that it is far from unique, and it falls under artistic license. As all the game art does.

                        I find this as silly as someone complaining that the banana graphic was innacurate back when CIV first came out.

                        Why does it matter?

                        [edit] And I'm quite certain, the "black Cleopatra" pics are fairly more recent than the Elizabeth Taylor one you post there.

                        (though most certainly, the Elizabeth Taylor one is a better film)
                        Last edited by UnOrthOdOx; April 3, 2008, 15:42.
                        One who has a surplus of the unorthodox shall attain surpassing victories. - Sun Pin
                        You're wierd. - Krill

                        An UnOrthOdOx Hobby

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Heraclitus
                          I'm sorry I don't see how the old gameplay vs. realism comes into play here Locutus. The appearances of a leader have nothing to do with gameplay. Sure people can enjoy the game if the leader pics are pretty but that is also not covered under "gameplay". I'm very dissapointed that you have brought something like that up, when it makes no sense.
                          You're taking gameplay very literally here. A game is a full experience, in which sound and graphics are VERY important elements. A key point for a game like Civ is that players can recognise history in it, which trumps making an actual accurate depiction of history, which would be completely impossible anyway: again, we have NO CLUE what Cleopatra really looked like.

                          If you insist that gameplay must be taken in the most literal sense, then we can simply replace my quote with 'graphics trumps realism'. And when it becomes relevant 'sound trumps realism', 'user-friendliness trumps realism', etc, etc. Historic realism is pretty close to the bottom of the list when it comes to game design (and this is coming from a guy who passionately cares about history and who came up with over 50% of the historic elements (UUs, Wonders, leaders, flags, great people, city names, etc) in Warlords and BtS, and a good number of the ones in vanilla Civ4 -- I love that stuff but in the scheme of things it's not what sells the game (in every possible meaning of the word)).

                          I'm not arguning she should look Greek! I'm arguing she should look Egyptian (since a very tanned Greek might pass as an Egyptian).
                          Based on the most sound and widely-accepted scientific theories she should definitely look Greek (or more accurate, Macedonian), there wasn't a drop of Egyptian blood in her heritage going by conventional history. Again, the fact that you seem to disagree says more about your own cultural background than about Firaxis. There is every bit as much historical base for depicting her as black or very dark-skinned as there is to depict her as 'Egyptian', both are more or less equally historically (in)plausible.

                          Depicting her as Greek would make the most sense if you go by historic accuracy alone, but I think for many people it would merely be confusing if Cleopatra looked like a Christina Onassis-lookalike -- she should actually probably look a lot more like the 'white' Cleopatras you condemn than like a traditional native 'Egyptian' as you seem to envision it (Egypt's always been a very heterogeneous society, it's on the crossroads between the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East and the native Egyptians can have the physical attributes common to all three of those regions, there isn't really a standard 'Egyptian' racial profile).
                          Administrator of WePlayCiv -- Civ5 Info Centre | Forum | Gallery

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                          • #14
                            I am not condeming "white Cleopatra" or "black Cleopatra" and you are again obscuring the point. Ancient Greeks were not western European in complexion they were a very mediteranean people, and it is likley that this would be reflected in the apperance of Cleopatra. Also as such she would have been more similar to the egyptians than to a blue-eyed germanian warrior or a subsaharan hunter. I'm trying to say that making her seem "Egyptian" would have been a reasonable compromise, since as you pointed out both the Greeks (and I do consider the Macedonians to be very closley related to Greeks) and Egyptians were diverese in apperances.

                            My point is that having a black phararo or two is not beyond the scope of possiblity (the Nubian ones were black), and having a Egyptian looking Cleopatra is not beyond the scope either. But having Cleopatra look black will just not cut it.



                            Also I would just like to know what is this you keep mentioning about my backround, and please explain why it matters?

                            @UnOrthOdOx: Why should the more recent depiction be the one to make it into civ? I can tell you right now that there are many people who will pick up civ who have not seen any of the recent stuff, in fact it is more likley for them to have seen old Elizabeth in the classic movie.

                            Also my point was that when they were casting Cleopatra they were looking for talent, somewhat widening the criteria of apperances. That is why we can have a blue-eyed man acting as Jesus in a movie or why a Itallian can play the role of King Arthur or why Ghandi could perhaps be portrayed by a Afro-American.
                            Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
                            The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
                            The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              BTW Am I the only one bothered by how the website of CivRev puts Saladin in Africa?

                              I can excuse them putting the Aztecs, Russians, Mongolians in the wrong place, but at least they aren't on the wrong continent!

                              /they may have fixed it by now since I have sent an email pointing out the eror/
                              Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
                              The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
                              The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

                              Comment

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