In response to a recent and excessively tame book review—
Cleopatra I, nicknamed Syra because it was rumored that she was not born from the usual intercourse between consenting, loving, and married adults of different lineages, but actually the result of a curious concoction of the desert sands of Syria. Every now and then the elements mix together to create a human being, and the earth of the Middle East is particularly well-suited for this; Auda ibu-Tayi claimed to have been produced by a human woman and a (presumably male) scorpion. Cleopatra I Syra was a living proteus, ebbing and flowing from place to place like a sandstorm, and her voice was said to be indistinguishable from that of the gales sifting through the dunes. She was allergic to water and all liquids and was in the habit of constantly carrying a parasol in case of rain, which she would sometimes use to beat her bumbling attendants. She lost her left pinkie toe when an infatuated man, who was drooling over her, managed to kiss it; the man was executed by being drowned, Heliogabalus-style, in a sea of bloodied pinkies, which Cleopatra ordered hacked off the feet of all of her slaves.
She is the namesake of all later Cleopatras and the founder of the nomenological line; she died when she fell off the royal barge while trying to re-fasten the belt buckle of her favorite dwarf jester and sistrum-playing minstrel, Pumilio; upon striking the black waters of the Nile she melted down instantly to mud and was presumably carried out into the Mediterranean through the rich estuaries of the green, papyrus-wavering delta. It became an Egyptian aphorism to say that sand runs in the blood of the Cleopatras.
Due to this woman’s profligacy the nation of Egypt and the Hellenistic lands of the East were overrun with Cleopatras, and not just human Cleopatras, either, but the name was a favorite one for the divine black Egyptian cats up until the time of the Muslim conquest, and it was even said that a parrot with the name Cleopatra unsuccessfully warned the doomed Pompey of the unpleasant fate that awaited him in the thigh-deep waters off the Egyptian coast; the bird spoke Latin, but bad Latin, and mixed his Cassandraisms with an unbelievable string of curses, swears, and deprecations. Pompey, who left tooth marks on the marble or ebony shoulders of every woman he slept with, could not abide such profanity, and ignored it, to his great regret in the Elysian Fields, where he is forced to ride a horse through plains of sunny golden grain while carrying a severed head, perhaps his own.