(I thought that it might be interesting to see how an Arabic Christian writer of the 10th century, Eutychius, also known as Sa’id al-Bitriq, the patriarch of Alexandria, saw the events of the time of Christ. I think we may all have some fun trying to recognise the names from the Arabic transcriptions!)
1. In the fourth year of the reign of Cleopatra, there reigned over the city of Rome a king named Ghābiyūs Qaysar for four years. After him then reigned, over Rome, a king called Yūliyūs Qaysar for three years (1). After him, there reigned in the city of Rome Awghustus Qaysar son of Mūnarkhus, in the eleventh year of the reign of Cleopatra.
Caesar Augustus extended his dominion over the world and made kings subject to him. When Cleopatra heard of Caesar Augustus she was dismayed, and felt a great fear. She therefore strengthened her kingdom by erecting a wall from Nubia to al-Farama (2), on the east bank of the Nile, and a wall from Nubia to Alexandria on the west bank of the Nile. Today [that] wall is called “Hayt al-‘Ağūz” (3). Cleopatra then lived at Alexandria in Egypt and had a lieutenant named Anthony. Caesar Augustus heard about her and decided to subject her to his dominion. Then Augustus learned that the Jews of Ūrashalīm had refused obedience to him, and that the kingdom of Judah had not been ruled by the family of David since the time of their deportation at the hands of Bakhtanassar. The Jews, in fact, do not recognize anyone as their king, even today, unless he is one of the descendants of David. At that time there was a priest descended from David, named Aristūbal, who ruled the Jews instead of a king. Augustus sent his general named Bitiyūs (4), who laid siege to Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] and conquered it. He bound Aristobulus, priest of the Jews, together with a group of his men, and he sent them to Rome after imposing a personal tribute on the Jews. Then he went away from them. Among the Jews there arose serious disorder, and they elected as priest, instead of Aristobulus, his brother called Irqān (5). Irqān had become friends with a man of Ascalon, named Antibatrus (6). A native of Cyprus (7), he was a servant of the temple of idols and the father of Hirūdus.
The priest Hyrcanus appointed Herod, son of Antipater, to hunt down thieves, he being a very rude man. But some residents of the Ghawr (8) made a raid on Bayt al-Maqdis, captured the priest Hyrcanus and killed Antipater, father of Herod. The city was thus without an administrator and headless. Herod ingratiated himself with the Rums [Romans] who resided in Bayt al-Maqdis, and gave them great wealth, thus becoming governor and leader of Bayt al-Maqdis. Then Herod learned that Caesar Augustus, king of Rum, was on his way to Egypt in search of Cleopatra. He met him in ar-Ramlah (9) bringing many gifts and he made with him a covenant of friendship. When he arrived in Egypt, Augustus had Anthony, Cleopatra’s lieutenant, killed, and he went to Alexandria in search of Cleopatra to seize her, and expose her to ignominy and show her at Rum. When Cleopatra heard that Caesar Augustus had killed her lieutenant Anthony, and had occupied Egypt, fearing to be exposed to mockery, and preferring to die, killed herself to avoid dishonour once she had fallen into his hands. But she called two of her handmaidens, one named Abra, who combed her hair and made her beautiful, and the other named Mitriya, who cut her nails and dressed her, and commanded them to go into the garden and bring her the snake was called bāsīlidah (10). That done, she tried it at first on the two maids who, bitten, died instantly. Seeing that the viper caused death swiftly, [Cleopatra] took the crown, and she put on her head, every ornament of gold and silver, gems, corundum and chrysolido she had, then put on her royal robes, took the snake and pulled it to her left breast, because she knew that the heart is on the left side. The snake bit her and [Cleopatra] died instantly. When Caesar Augustus saw her, he was astonished by what she had done, and the fact that she had preferred death to a life of slavery and humiliation. They say that when King Caesar Augustus went in to her, he found her with her left hand grasping the crown, as to not have it fall from the head, and found her seated on a throne. Others have said that, she wanting to die, injured her arm with a knife, to bring out the blood, and then took some snake venom that she had with her and putting it on the wound, she died instantly. This took place in the twelfth year of the reign of Caesar Augustus. Thus ended the reign of Cleopatra.
To be continued…