Posted on 23rd December 2020
Born Cleopatra VII Philopator in Alexandria, Egypt in 69BC, but known to all as Cleopatra. She was the last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, as following her reign Egypt became a province of Rome.
Cleopatra’s father was Ptolemy XII but who her mother was is unclear. Following her father’s death in 51BC, Cleopatra and her ten-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII became joint monarchs.
This rule was not a happy, neither wished to share power, both wished to rule alone, therefore relations were strained. Initially as Cleopatra was older, she undertook much of the work however she fell from power around 48BC and fled Alexandria, leaving Ptolemy to rule alone.
Roman dictator Julius Caesar arrived in Egypt in 48BC in pursuit of Pompey Magnus, but he had been killed on the orders of Ptolemy. Cleopatra wished to form an alliance with Caesar to depose her brother Ptolemy and take the throne for herself. She was returned to Alexandria, smuggled into the palace wrapped up in a carpet, to meet with Caesar.
Caesar fought Ptolemy’s army at the Battle of the Nile and defeated them, Cleopatra now had the throne. She had finally got what she wanted, the rule of Egypt, and she was popular with her people. Her wish was to keep Egypt independent of Rome.
Cleopatra became Caesar’s lover and bore him a son, Caesarian, nine months later. She was desperate for Caesar to name her son as his heir, but he refused.
Cleopatra continued her relationship with Caesar, and she along with Caesarian visited Caesar in Rome. They were in Rome when Caesar was assassinated in 41BC. Following this Cleopatra returned with her son to Egypt.
To protect Egypt from Rome, Cleopatra formed an alliance with Marc Antony in 41BC, against Caesar’s legal heir and adopted son Octavian. Cleopatra was determined to have her son by Caesar, Caesarian, named as the next ruler of Rome and she believed that Marc Antony could help her achieve this.
Antony and Cleopatra became lovers and she bore him three children, twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II and a son Ptolemy Philadelphus, but still she wanted her son by Caesar, Caesarian, to be ruler of Rome.
Octavian fought with Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31BC and defeated them; he then marched on Rome.
Following the defeat at Actium, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra then followed suit and committed suicide by a poisonous asp (snake) biting her on the chest. She died on 12 August 30BC.
Cleopatra’s name means ‘she who comes from glorious father’. She was a popular ruler who was loved by her people and she ruled over them for twenty-one years.
Cleopatra never gained her wish for Caesarian to rule Rome. Octavian, ruler of Rome, now took control of Egypt, its independence gone, it now became a province of Rome.
Tagged as: Junior Ancient Egypt
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