Theda Bara as Cleopatra
Theda Bara in the 1917 Silent Film "Cleopatra" Image by Eric Perlin from Pixabay

Cleopatra, unlike Louis, bathed daily in perfumed waters with exfoliating soaps. Cleopatra always used the sense of smell to her advantage. All the royals and aristocrats of that time removed their body hair, bathed and applied perfumed oils and pomades from head to toe on a regular basis. Even the slaves that rowed her gilded barge wore perfumed so that the body heat and sweat released the perfume molecules into the air. When Cleopatra was to meet Mark Anthony, she orchestrated the meeting with great attention to every detail. She chose their meeting to be right before dusk as the setting sun would reflect as rose gold on the Nile. She had the sails of royal golden barge saturated with a kingdom’s worth of priceless sandalwood essential oil and oils extracted from intensely fragrant roses at their very height of bloom. The melodic sound of oars kept the beat for her many musicians in barges trailing behind her. A soft breeze penetrated her sails flowing ahead, it was an indescribable aroma of pure romance and seduction. Anthony breathed the fragrant air that registered in his brain faster than the taste of honey or a soft caress. He became instantly transfixed by such an erotic aromatic beauty in the air. He was so completely aroused by the time he could see the dazzling gold barge, or hear the seductive and hypnotizing lute, drums and the rhythmical splashing oars, that Cleopatra had worn him over hook line and sinker before she ever uttered a word to the man.

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