The Turkish minister of tourism recently instructed his officers not to use the belly dance to attract visitors, on the grounds that it put the emphasis on an activity unrelated to the achievements of Turkey as a modern nation.
As far as we know, Egypt has not followed suit. The belly dance remains a legitimate attraction. How could it be otherwise when the whole world knows that it was Cleopatra’s belly dance that induced Julius Ceasar to spend time with her in provincial Alexandria instead of looking after his affairs in metropolitan Rome, the navel of the world. (Left: Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra)
Caesar was the first tourist for whom the belly dance worked. It would be foolish to give it up as a tourist attraction.
But, as far as Caesar and Cleopatra are concerned, let us face it – it is only a legend.
Incidentally, who exactly was the non-legendary Cleopatra?
She was not a descendent of the Pharaohs. She was the third daughter of Ptolomy Xll. Ptolomy I had been the Macedonian general who inherited Egypt from Alexander the Great. Alexander had conquered it from the Persians more than three hundred years before Cleopatra’s birth. Ethnically, she was Macedonian. At her Hellenistic court Greek was spoken. Egypt was a Greek word.
Egypt in Egyptian was “Kemet.” Cleopatra was the first ruler of the Ptolomean dynasty to learn Egyptian and even adopt Isis as her patron goddess.
Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph in perfect, classical Egyptian. But there is nothing in the legend to suggest that she performed a belly dance for him.