KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn LESSON THIRTY-TWO: Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt

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In today’s lesson, entitled Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, you will be listening to a passage about Cleopatra, one of the most powerful and most famous women in history. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.

cleopatraCleopatra, the Queen of Egypt

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Lesson Thirty-Two PASSAGE ONLY track:

 

         Alexander the Great of Macedonia is one of history’s most successful military commanders. Nearly 2,500 years ago, he created a vast empire that extended from Greece through the Middle East all the way to India. His first major military conquest was just across the Mediterranean Sea from Greece. This was the ancient civilization of Egypt, which Alexander easily defeated in 332 B.C. After establishing the city of Alexandria, Alexander drove on eastward, conquering nation after nation. But in 323 B.C., at the age of 32, he died (somewhat mysteriously) in Persia, and his kingdom was entrusted to his most faithful deputies. Egypt was handed over to Alexander’s advisor, Ptolemy, who declared himself King Ptolemy I. For the next 275 years, Ptolemy’s heirs ruled the country from Alexandria. The most famous member of this royal dynasty was Egypt’s last queen, Cleopatra.

         In 55 B.C., when she was fourteen, Cleopatra became joint regent with her father, Ptolemy XII. The people of Egypt adored her, not only for her great beauty, but also because, unlike the rest of her family who only spoke Greek, she had learned the Egyptian language and embraced local religious beliefs. When Ptolemy XII died in 51 B.C., Cleopatra inherited the throne along with her ten-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII. Cleopatra, however, had no intention of sharing the throne and seized control. But as her brother grew older, he too coveted power. Eventually, he forced Cleopatra from the royal palace and took over as king.

         By then, Rome had succeeded Greece as the world’s greatest empire. In 48 B.C., Roman ruler Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria to try to unite Rome and Egypt. While Caesar was waiting to see Ptolemy, Cleopatra, or so legend has it, snuck into the palace rolled up in a carpet. She then unrolled herself in front of Caesar and pleaded with him to help her win back the throne. Captivated by her charm and beauty, Caesar gave in. He and his troops attacked and defeated Ptolemy and the Egyptian army at the Battle of the Nile. With her brother out of the picture and Caesar at her side, Cleopatra once again became Egypt’s sole ruler. Although romantically involved with Caesar, Cleopatra insisted that Egypt remain independent of Rome. During her reign, she consolidated power by establishing trade with other nations and building up the Egyptian economy.

Hollywood's portrayal of Cleopatra.

Hollywood’s portrayal of Cleopatra.

In 44 B.C., Caesar was assassinated, and Cleopatra quickly took up with Mark Antony, who ruled Rome following Caesar’s death. But Caesar’s legal heir Octavian disputed Antony’s claim to the throne. The two bitter rivals met in the Battle of Actium. Antony was defeated and fled to Alexandria, where, ashamed and depressed, he committed suicide. Devastated by the news of Antony’s death, Cleopatra smuggled a cobra into the palace in a basket of figs, held the snake to her breast, and allowed it to bite her, killing her with its deadly venom.

         But the snakebite theory (made legendary by William Shakespeare and Hollywood) of Cleopatra’s death has recently come under scrutiny. Egyptologists and snake experts now claim that Cleopatra more likely died from a potent drug cocktail rather than from a venomous snakebite. “Not only are cobras too big to conceal in a basket,” explained herpetologist Andrew Gray, “but there’s just a 10% chance you would die from a snake bite. Most bites are ‘dry bites’ that don’t inject venom. Snakes,” he added, “use venom to protect themselves and for hunting—so they conserve their venom and use it in time of need.”

         This may be true, but somehow I prefer the legend, don’t you? It makes a much better story.

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LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Thirty-Two LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:

Today’s listening comprehension questions are of various types. Follow the instructions for each question. Feel free to pause and listen several times if needed.

 

1. Decide if this statement is true or false.

Alexander the Great’s vast empire extended from Greece, across the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt, through the Middle East, and as far east as modern-day China.

 

2. Choose the best answer to complete this sentence.

When Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., Egypt was handed over to_______________________

a) Alexander’s most faithful deputy in Persia.

b) Alexander’s eldest son, who later established a royal dynasty.

c) Queen Cleopatra.

d) Alexander’s advisor Ptolemy, who later declared himself King of Egypt.

 

3. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.

Why did the people of Egypt adore young Cleopatra?

 

4. Choose the true statement.

a) Cleopatra was only fourteen when she inherited the throne from her father, Ptolemy XII.

b) Cleopatra was just ten years old when she inherited the throne, which she shared equally with her older brother, Ptolemy XIII.

c) Cleopatra was eighteen when she inherited the throne along with her ten-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII.

d) Ptolemy XIII, Cleopatra’s younger brother, was never allowed to share the throne with her because he was too young.

 

5. Decide if this sentence is true or false.

By 51 B.C., Rome had succeeded Greece as the world’s greatest empire.

 

6. Restate this false statement to make it true.

Rome’s leader Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria in 48 B.C. to ask Cleopatra to enter a romantic relationship with him.

 

7. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.

What circumstances led to Cleopatra’s regaining control of Egypt after she had been forced out of the royal palace by her brother?

 

8. Choose the best answer to this question.  

How did Cleopatra consolidate her power during her reign as Queen of Egypt?

a) She established trade with other nations and built up the Egyptian economy.

b) She insisted that Julius Caesar allow her to share the throne with him.

c) She broke off all relations with Rome and built up the Egyptian military.

d) She took up with Mark Antony, Rome’s natural heir to Octavian.

 

9. Complete this statement with the better answer.    

According to legend (and to Shakespeare and Hollywood), Cleopatra _______________________________.

a) was devastated to learn that Mark Antony had committed suicide after the Battle of Actium, so she killed herself by allowing a cobra to inject its deadly venom into her breast

b) was depressed to learn of Julius Caesar’s assassination, so she committed suicide by drinking a potent drug cocktail

 

10. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.

According to leading herpetologist (snake expert) Andrew Gray, why are snake bites not nearly as lethal as most people believe?

 

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LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!

You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.

PDF DOWNLOAD:KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn LESSON THIRTY TWO Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

 

 

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KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson THIRTY-TWO

KEY VOCABULARY WORDS

Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.

Egypt was ENTRUSTED to Alexander's most faithful advisor, Ptolemy.

Egypt was ENTRUSTED to Alexander’s most faithful advisor, Ptolemy.

1. ENTRUST

But in 323 B.C., at the age of 32, he died (somewhat mysteriously) in Persia, and his kingdom was ENTRUSTED to his most faithful deputies.

ENTRUST is a verb that means to give someone the responsibility for doing something or for taking care of someone or something. Hand over, assign, grant, and delegate are some near synonyms. To give into the charge/care/custody of and to put into the hands of are some more idiomatic substitutes for ENTRUST.

“It’s your turn to be ENTRUSTED with the class’s pet hamster over the weekend,” the teacher told Liana, “so make sure you take good care of her.”

Parents who ENTRUST their children to nurseries, day-care centers, and pre-schools need to know that their loved ones are in safe hands.

The last time Vivian went away on business and ENTRUSTED her indoor plants to her teenage son Henry, she came home to a houseful of dead plants.

“The voters of this great country have ENTRUSTED me with this awesome responsibility, and I fully intend to live up to their expectations,” the president-elect said in his victory speech.

 

EMBRACING Buddhism.

EMBRACING Buddhism.

2. EMBRACE

The people of Egypt adored her, not only for her great beauty, but also because, unlike the rest of her family who only spoke Greek, she had learned the Egyptian language and EMBRACED local religious beliefs.

In the above sentence, EMBRACE means to enthusiastically accept an idea, set of beliefs, proposal, and so on. Some synonyms include welcome, take up, adopt, receive with open arms, and support.

Our teacher told us that we must learn to EMBRACE change because, as she put it, “You never know what life will throw at you.”

After traveling for several months in Tibet and Nepal, Marty left the Catholic Church and EMBRACED Buddhism.

It is unlikely that the majority of Americans will EMBRACE the Democratic Party candidate’s radically liberal ideas and policies.

A warm EMBRACE.

A warm EMBRACE.

More generally, EMBRACE means to hug someone as a sign of love or friendship, as in:

All the children cheered and EMBRACED one another when they heard that their school had won the inter-village sports competition.

Gavin and Stacey EMBRACED on Euston Station platform just before she boarded the train.

EMBRACE is also a noun.

Donna gave her daughter a warm EMBRACE and wished her a happy birthday.

The young couple, locked in a passionate EMBRACE on the street corner, drew both sneers and cheers from passersby.

Teenagers often COVET the fashionable clothes of their peers.

Teenagers often COVET the fashionable clothes of their peers.

 

3. COVET

But as her brother grew older, he too COVETED power. Eventually, he forced Cleopatra from the royal palace and took over as king.

COVET is a verb that means to want something very badly, especially something that belongs to someone else. Desire, crave, yearn for, dream of, have one’s heart set on, long for, and, more colloquially, hanker for are some good substitutes for COVET.

It’s only natural for young people to COVET the fancy gadgets and fashionable clothes of their peers.

Marcus is exactly the kind of basketball player university coaches COVET and seek to recruit.

Logan had long COVETED the chance to play his music in front of a large audience and finally got what he wanted when he performed at the Glastonbury Festival.  

Isn’t it ironic that the career most people end up getting is not the career they COVET?

COVET is often used as an adjective, COVETED, as in:

This year’s winner of children’s literature’s most COVETED prize was a picture book entitled The Boy Who Stole Big Words from the Dictionary.

 

Mary Shelly CONSOLIDATED her position as a published author before she was 23 years-old.

Mary Shelly CONSOLIDATED her position as a published author before she was 23 years-old.

4. CONSOLIDATE

During her reign, she CONSOLIDATED power by establishing trade with other nations and building up the Egyptian economy.

In the passage, CONSOLIDATE is a verb that means to strengthen a person’s position or power.

With the release of her second novel, the 22-year-old writer CONSOLIDATED her position as the country’s leading “must read” young author.

George’s antics at the Halloween party CONSOLIDATED his reputation as the class clown.

Once again, Apple has CONSOLIDATED its hold on the cell-phone market with the release of the iPhone 6.  

The South African rugby team CONSOLIDATED its lead over Argentina with a third unanswered score.

She should have CONSOLIDATED her luggage into two big suitcases!

She should have CONSOLIDATED her luggage into two big suitcases!

CONSOLIDATE can also mean to make something stronger or more solid. Synonyms for this usage include strengthen, stabilize, fortify, and reinforce.

After burglars attempted to break into our house for the third time this year, we CONSOLIDATED our security system.

CONSOLIDATE also means to combine or join things together into one, as in:

Parents are concerned that the government’s plan to cut costs by CONSOLIDATING a number of smaller rural schools will negatively affect their children’s education.

Sally and Eileen met at the library to CONSOLIDATE their research findings and to put together a report to present in class.

Our accountant advised us to CONSOLIDATE all our credit-card loans on to one card that charges a lower interest rate.

 

 

Young Octavian DISPUTED Mark Antony's claim to the Roman throne.

Young Octavian DISPUTED Mark Antony’s claim to the Roman throne.

5. DISPUTE

In 44 B.C., Caesar was assassinated, and Cleopatra quickly took up with Mark Antony, who ruled Rome following Caesar’s death. But Caesar’s legal heir Octavian DISPUTED Antony’s claim to the throne.

In the sentence above, DISPUTE means to argue or disagree strongly with someone about something, especially about who owns or has control over something. DISPUTE can also mean to argue over whether something is true or valid. Synonyms include challenge, contest, object to, question, debate, discuss, and disagree.

Ruth is a very confident young woman and often dares to DISPUTE her professors’ facts and pronouncements.

The batter too vehemently DISPUTED the umpire’s called third strike, so the umpire threw him out of the game.

When the old woman left her entire estate to her young caregiver, the woman’s family DISPUTED the will.

DISPUTE is also a noun that refers to an argument or disagreement between two people, groups, or countries.

Never let a little DISPUTE end a great friendship.

The labor DISPUTE between the teachers and the school district has gone on for more than three weeks, and unfortunately, there is no end in sight.

The DISPUTE between Japan and Russia over the ownership of the Kuril Islands has been going on since the end of World War II.

 

Why do celebrities' private lives have to come under such public SCRUTINY?

Why do celebrities’ private lives have to come under such public SCRUTINY?

6. SCRUTINY

But the snakebite theory (made legendary by William Shakespeare and Hollywood) of Cleopatra’s death has recently come under SCRUTINY.

When something comes under SCRUTINY, as in the sentence above, that thing is being very closely examined.   Inspection, surveillance, and observation are possible synonyms depending on the context.

Even the headmaster of the private boarding school has come under SCRUTINY after two of his students were arrested for hacking into a CIA website.

Why do celebrities’ private lives have to come under such public SCRUTINY? Who cares who is dating or divorcing whom?

The detectives are hoping that the suspect will make a full confession when he is questioned under intense SCRUTINY.

Josh expected to get searched at customs, but he hadn’t anticipated that his travel itinerary would come under such SCRUTINY.

The verb SCRUTINIZE means to look at or examine something very carefully.

Teachers have to SCRUTINIZE their students’ submitted papers very carefully these days because plagiarism has become so easy and thus so rampant.

It was Elisha’s job as line editor at the magazine to SCRUTINIZE articles for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes.  

My dad always told me to SCRUTINIZE the small print before signing any contracts to make sure I knew what I was getting into.  

 

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PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Thirty Two KEY VOCABULARY WORDS