4/23/2012 at 11:10 AM
I've come across a Wikipedia mention of the possibility that Herod's wife, Cleopatra of Jerusalem, might actually have been an affair with Cleopatra of Egypt.
My urge is to discount it completely, but the source cited is Josephus:
Now at first glance this seems highly unlikely, just given the documented extent of their dislike for each other, and, as http://www.geni.com/people/Justin-Swanstr%C3%B6m/6000000007278581048 points out, most of these 'conspiracy theorists' seem to forget how few names circulated amongst the people of that time. Hundreds of people in the historical records were called Mariamne, Salome, Joseph for example. So, two Cleopatras who knew Herod do not constitute evidence of one person.
But then you start to think about how she typically used sex to get political power, and you wonder if it might just have been sufficiently economically expedient for her to manipulate Herod this way.
I'm finding no quick internet back-up for this though. And even the two biographies of her I've got on my bookshelf ignore Josephus's apparent statement that Cleopatra "upon the whole, seemed overcome with love for him (King Herod),"(Antiquities 15.4.2).
Curioser and curioser...