Cleopatra's asp

Cleopatra's asp

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Cleopatra's asp. The Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra VII (69-30 BC) committed suicide by the bite of an asp, rather than submit to the victorious forces of Octavian, leader and future Emperor of Rome. However, it is not clear what species of snake was used, with the word asp originating from the Latin word 'aspis'. It is thought that the snake used by Cleopatra was this one, the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), which was worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians. Later theories suggest it was a horned viper (Cerastes cerastes) or a similar species. Artwork from the first volume (first period of 1888) of the French popular science weekly 'La Science Illustree'.

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