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Cleopatra One-Upped! Nubian Queen Trounced Romans, Evaded Taxes

By       Message Vicki Leon       (Page 2 of 6 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Her boldness and her success put ruler Augustus's toga in a real twist. Kandake Amanirenas and her wicked way with a sword had humiliated the Roman legionaries. Even more Amazonian was the fact that this athletic, amply-buttocked woman warrior had lost an eye in battle but kept on smiting away!

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After her military successes, Amanirenas spent a little downtime, gleefully going over the slaughter statistics and the booty she and her troops had gotten. At her direction, they'd made off with a number of "I'm your new Roman Emperor" bronze statues, some of them larger than life. Reviewing the loot, the queen selected one dreamy-eyed, boyish statue, knocked its beautiful bronze head from its shoulders, then planted the cranium firmly beneath the doorsill of her favorite victory shrine in Meroe. That way, she had the pleasure of stomping on the head of Roman Number One during her frequent visits to the shrine. (That very head, pictured here, was unearthed in Meroe in 1911 and now reposes in the British Museum.)

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Meanwhile, back in Rome and Rome-controlled Egypt, everyone was trying to regroup. At the Emperor's urging, his newly appointed governor of Egypt hurried to regain control of the situation. Being a little short-handed, Gaius Petronius had to fill in as general as well as governor. After he mustered a good-sized army, Petronius double-timed it south to Napata, the religious capital and former residence of the royal family. He destroyed the city, taking thousands of prisoners and truly ticking off the robust ruler, who trudged back north, deep into Egypt, with her army.

After several more years of skirmishes and battles, during which her son, prince Akinidad, was killed, Amanirenas and the Roman general tried for a negotiated peace. With her envoys, Amanirenas traveled to the Greek island of Samos, where Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus planned to spend the winter. In 21 B.C., the two sides hammered out an agreement called the Treaty of Samos.

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For their part, the Romans agreed to withdraw all their military forces from Meroe lands. Queen Amanirenas agreed to a new border with Egypt at Aswan. The mind-boggler clause, however, was a firm Roman promise to refrain from taxing Amanirenas and her people. No taxes, no tribute to pay, ever! Writer and historian Strabo, a contemporary of Amanirenas, noted this stunning development in his book with more than a touch of envy.

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Vicki Leon, author of over 35 nonfiction books on women's history, ancient history, and travel, along with pictorial books for younger readers on wildlife and earth's fragile habitats, lives on the California coast but often returns to her favorite (more...)
 

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