The Mysterious Death of Cleopatra

Atlantic Productions for the Discovery Channel, first aired December 6, 2004.

For 2,000 years only one verdict has been recorded - suicide by snakebite. Now FBI Criminal Profiler Pat Brown, and a team of experts from fields as diverse as archaeology and toxicology, are re-examining the circumstances of Cleopatra's alleged suicide. Using techniques that are usually the preserve of 21st Century criminal investigations they reconstruct the death scene, go inside the mind of Cleopatra, and reveal the sinister power-games that led to Cleopatra's untimely death.

Bursztajn: People commit suicide when they can't stand being alive, when they're in such intolerable pain that they simply can't continue to live, or if they believe that by dying they will gain something that they can't gain otherwise. The question is, is there anything in Cleopatra's story that fits either.

Bursztajn: There's no family history of committing suicide, even though there is a family history of murder, so this would have been out of character for her.

Bursztajn: What's interesting about Cleopatra is that she doesn't fit the profile of those leaders who when they lose commit suicide, she can go through losses and still persevere. She's a survivor so the idea that she would, in the face of a loss, commit suicide just doesn't hold water.