Who Was Cleopatra | History Of Cleopatra the Great | Biography, Beauty, History, Death, & Facts

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Who Was Cleopatra | History Of Cleopatra the Great | Biography, Beauty, History, Death, & Facts

Who Was Cleopatra | History Of Cleopatra the Great | Biography, Beauty, History, Death, & Facts

Cleopatra VII Philopator was a
world-renowned leader and one of the most prominent Macedonian Greek Dynasty
figures of all time. Her appointment as Queen of Egypt was merely a reflection
of an intelligent, powerful woman who was remembered as much for her good deeds
and leadership as for her esoteric background, scholarly traits, and romances
with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. We’ll walk you through Cleopatra’s birth,
life, and death as the final ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt.

The Story of Cleopatra’s Birth

Ptolemy XII, Egypt’s ruler and King for nearly 40 years,
gave birth to Cleopatra. While the exact date and details of her birth are
unknown, history dates her birth to 69 BC. Cleopatra was born in Alexandria,
Egypt, and raised in the Palace of Alexandria, where she received a Hellenistic
Greek education from Philostratus, also known as “the Athenian” – a
prominent Greek sophist. Cleopatra learned the arts of oration and philosophy
from her mentor. She was educated in nine languages: Greek, Egyptian, Median
(or ancient Iranian), Parthian (an Iranian derivative of Aramaic), Syriac,
Ethiopian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Troglodytae. Scholars are unsure which languages
she could speak fluently, but it is known that she could speak ancient Greek
and Egyptian. Cleopatra was so fluent in the barbaric tongues that she rarely
needed an interpreter – a skill set that complimented her headstrong
personality. For this was a leader who did not require advice, acted
independently of her advisors, and took advantage of every opportunity that
presented itself.


Cleopatra’s Childhood and Early Years

Cleopatra's Childhood and Early Years

Cleopatra’s learned position led to her participation in a
variety of spiritual and societal rites, such as the journey to Hermonthis to
oversee the installation of a sacred Buchis bull serving as a conduit to the EgyptianGod Montu. This was her first act as Queen of Egypt. However, her grand rites
were not performed before Ptolemy XII, and the majority of the royal family had
been exiled in lieu of the family doing nothing in response to their King’s
brother, Ptolemy of Cyprus, committing suicide after being overthrown by Roman
forces. Cleopatra’s older sister, Berenice IV, rose to power and claimed the
throne in 58 BC, while her father was driven out of Egypt due to insurgency.

Her father, however, had not given up and had instead sought
the assistance of Roman forces. Ptolemy XII arrived with the Roman Aulus
Gabinius’ forces, who had marched on Alexandria in 55BC. By 51 BC, he had
reclaimed the throne from Berenice IV and her Pontic husband Archelaus.

Egypt is ruled by siblings.

Ptolemy XII

Ptolemy XII, suffering from massive debt and having reduced
the value of Egyptian currency by at least 50%, was no longer regarded as the
King of Egypt, but rather as a Roman statesman. His only redeeming feature was
how he managed to secure the Egyptian throne in his will after his sudden
natural death late in the year 51 BC. After her father died, 18-year-old
Cleopatra VII ascended to the throne, following in the footsteps of countless
leaders before her. She initially ruled alongside her 10-year-old brother
Ptolemy XIII. In Egyptian tradition, the two were coronated as Egypt’s rulers
together. Later disagreements resulted in a very Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII
were embroiled in a bitter feud by 48 BC. The rivalry between the two siblings
was always fierce, with Ptolemy XIII being far more easily swayed by the state
and his regent’s power-hungry advisors.


Exile of Cleopatra and Civil War

In the spring of 48 BC, Ptolemy XIII and his regent
Ponthinus attempted to depose Cleopatra. Her position as Queen was growing
stronger, with Cleopatra appearing on minted currency while her younger brother
was not even mentioned on state documents. Ptolemy XIII, aided by his regent,
forced Cleopatra to flee to Syria, sparking a civil war. During this time, their
other sister, Arsinoe IV, claimed the throne. With his popularity dwindling,
Ptolemy XIII joined forces with Arsinoe IV to depose Cleopatra VII. The Roman
civil war brought Cleopatra and Caesar together for the first time and resulted
in some of history’s most famous battles, including the eventual burning of the
Library of Alexandria and the Siege of Alexandria itself in 47 BC.


Caesar and Cleopatra Fall in Love

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar was one of Rome’s greatest generals at the
time, on the trail of his arch-rival, Pompey, who had fled to Alexandria in the
hopes of regrouping his forces. Instead of seeking sanctuary, Pompey was
promptly beheaded by Ptolemy, infuriating Caesar, who had hoped to one day ally
with his statesman again. Cleopatra snuck into Julius Caesar’s chambers while
camped on the island of Antirhodos in Alexandria’s Portus Magnus. Cleopatra,
21, won Caesar’s devotion and support by using her charismatic brilliance,
superior education, and outright audacity. During their first secret meeting,
the two are said to have fallen madly in love.

Egypt’s Queen Is Crowned

Ptolemy XIII died during the Battle of the Nile in 47 BC,
making Cleopatra the ruler once more, but this time alongside her other brother
Ptolemy XIV. Ptolemy XIII is said to have drowned in the Nile River after
becoming overwhelmed by Caesar’s superior strategy and tactical capabilities.
Julius Caesar now had complete control of Egypt, and he promptly reinstated
Cleopatra VII as co-ruler with her 13-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIV Theos Philopator
II. Ptolemy Caesar, also known as Caesarion, was born to Caesar’s child, Queen
Cleopatra, just a year laterCleopatra and her joint-ruler brother were declared
“friend and ally of the Roman people” in 46 BC while residing in the
Horti Caesaris – Caesar’s villa, a status hotly contested by the Roman
populace. Despite all efforts to win Cleopatra’s favour, unrest reigned in the
Roman senate, leading to Julius Caesar’s assassination.


Caesar’s Ascension

Caesar's Ascension

Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times and died near the Theatre
of Pompey on the Ides of March (March 14th) 44 BC. The plot was led by Roman
senators Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, and Marcus
Junius Brutus, who claimed Caesar planned to impose totalitarianism and
overthrow the state. With no living legitimate children, Caesar’s grand-nephew
Octavius assumed his position as political heir and beneficiary of two-thirds
of Caesar’s estate under Roman-state law. Octavian Julius Caesar, using his
uncle’s adopted name, now ruled Rome amid a tense battle for rulership and
power. The armies of Mark Antony and Octavian, the new Caesar, were the two
most powerful factions vying for control.

Rule of Cleopatra and Mark Antony

Rule of Cleopatra and Mark Antony

Cleopatra met Mark Antony after being summoned to Tarsus in
41 BC. This was not their first meeting; they had met before, in 55 BC during
an Egyptian campaign, and again in 48 BC. During this meeting, Antony fell for
the Egyptian queen, drawn to her by more than just her beauty, as both parties
benefited from a union. Cleopatra saw their relationship as an opportunity to
seize power in both Egypt and Rome, while Mark Antony was clearly captivated by
the allure of the wealthiest woman in the world and what one of Rome’s most
important clients could bring. With the general by her side, Cleopatra ordered
the assassination of her half-sister, Arsinoe, eliminating any possibility of
usurpation. Antony and Cleopatra spent the entire winter season together in 41
BC, and their twin children Alexander Helius and Cleopatra Selene II were born
in 40 BC.


Mark Antony’s Failings and Fall

Using the wealth accumulated from his relationship with
Cleopatra, Antony launched numerous campaigns to increase his power, the most
disastrous of which was his Parthian campaign, in which an estimated 80,000 soldiers
died in vain. By 34 BC, Antony and Cleopatra had divided Roman and Parthian
lands between Cleopatra and her children. This is known as the ‘Donations of
Alexandria,’ and it was also during this time that Caesarion was declared to be
Caesar’s legitimate son and heir. Outraged by the act, Octavian revoked
Antony’s civil powers and declared war on Cleopatra right away. The naval
Battle of Actium in Preveza, Greece, on September 2, 31 BC, dealt a crushing
defeat to Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s forces. With Egypt invaded and
Alexandria’s forces vastly outnumbered, Mark Antony’s armies surrendered, and
Antony himself was assassinated. He could only do it one way. reclaim his
honour as a Roman was to end his own life.


The Death of Cleopatra

The Death of Cleopatra

Octavian paraded Cleopatra through the streets in triumphant
celebration of Antony’s defeat, dressed in royal robes and seated on a golden
couch with a diadem on her forehead. Cleopatra committed suicide at the age of
39, after reigning for 22 years as queen and 14 years as Mark Antony’s consort.
While debated, it is widely assumed that Cleopatra died as a result of an asp
bite brought to her on her request and hidden in a basket of figs, while other
historians believe she committed suicide with a vial or ointment of poison.
Cleopatra’s death marked the end of the Roman Republic’s final war.. On August
29, 30 BC, just 18 days after his mother’s suicide, Caesarian was captured and
executed by Octavian’s forces. This event marked the end of the Egyptian rule
of the Ptolemaic dynasty as well as the Hellenistic period of history. Egypt
was then made a province of the Roman Empire, and Octavian was renamed
‘Augustus’ in 27 BC, becoming one of Rome’s most successful, but divisive,

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