Cleopatra VII in Wikipedia
Cleopatra VII Philopator (in Greek, Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ; (Late 69 BC – August 12, 30 BC) was the last person to rule Egypt
as an Egyptian pharaoh – after her death Egypt became a Roman province.
She was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt, and therefore was a descendant of one of Alexander the Great's
generals who had seized control over Egypt after Alexander's death. Most Ptolemeis spoke Greek and refused to learn Egyptian,
which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian languages were used on official court documents like the Rosetta Stone.
By contrast, Cleopatra learned Egyptian and represented herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian Goddess.
Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy
XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with
Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in
After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Iulius Caesar
Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another
son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Her unions with her brothers produced no children. After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's
forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on
August 12, 30 BC. She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh, but he was soon killed on Octavian's
orders. Egypt became the Roman province of Aegyptus.
Though Cleopatra bore the ancient Egyptian title of pharaoh, the Ptolemaic dynasty was Hellenistic, having been founded 300
years before by Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general of Alexander the Great. As such, Cleopatra's language
was the Greek spoken by the Hellenic aristocracy, though she was reputed to be the first ruler of the dynasty to learn
Egyptian. She also adopted common Egyptian beliefs and deities. Her patron deity was Isis, and thus, during her reign, it was
believed that she was the re-incarnation and embodiment of the goddess. Her death marked the end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and
Hellenistic period and the beginning of the Roman era in the eastern Mediterranean.
To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture. Her legacy survives in numerous works of art and the many
dramatizations of her story in literature and other media, including William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, Jules
Massenet's opera Cléopâtre and the 1963 film Cleopatra. In most depictions, Cleopatra is put forward as a great beauty and her
successive conquests of the world's most powerful men are taken to be proof of her aesthetic and sexual appeal. In his
Pensées, philosopher Blaise Pascal contends that Cleopatra's classically beautiful profile changed world history: "Cleopatra's
nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed."
Accession to the throne
The identity of Cleopatra's mother is unknown, but she is generally believed to be Cleopatra V Tryphaena of Egypt, the sister
or cousin and wife of Ptolemy XII, or possibly another Ptolemaic family member who was the daughter of Ptolemy X and Cleopatra
Berenice III Philopator if Cleopatra V was not the daughter of Ptolemy X and Berenice III. Cleopatra's father Auletes was a
direct descendant of Alexander the Great's general, Ptolemy I Soter, son of Arsinoe and Lacus, both of Macedon.
Centralization of power and corruption led to uprisings in and the losses of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, making Ptolemy's reign one
of the most calamitous of the dynasty. When Ptolemy went to Rome with Cleopatra, Cleopatra VI Tryphaena seized the crown but
died shortly afterwards in suspicious circumstances. It is believed, though not proven by historical sources, that Berenice IV
poisoned her so she could assume sole rulership. Regardless of the cause, she did until Ptolemy Auletes returned in 55 BC,
with Roman support, capturing Alexandria aided by Roman general Aulus Gabinius. Berenice was imprisoned and executed shortly
afterwards, her head allegedly being sent to the royal court on the decree of her father, the king. Cleopatra was now, at age
14, put as joint regent and deputy of her father, although her power was likely to have been severely limited.
Ptolemy XII died in March 51 BC, thus by his will making the 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 10-year-old Ptolemy
XIII joint monarchs. The first three years of their reign were difficult, due to economic difficulties, famine, deficient
floods of the Nile, and political conflicts. Although Cleopatra was married to her young brother, she quickly made it clear
that she had no intention of sharing power with him.
In August 51 BC, relations between Cleopatra and Ptolemy completely broke down. Cleopatra dropped Ptolemy's name from official
documents and her face appeared alone on coins, which went against Ptolemaic tradition of female rulers being subordinate to
male co-rulers. In 50 BC Cleopatra came into a serious conflict with the Gabiniani, powerful Roman troops of Aulus Gabinius
who had left them in Egypt to protect Ptolemy XII after his restoration to the throne in 55 BC. This conflict was one of the
main causes for Cleopatra's soon following loss of power.
The sole reign of Cleopatra was finally ended by a cabal of courtiers, led by the eunuch Pothinus, removing Cleopatra from
power and making Ptolemy sole ruler in circa 48 BC (or possibly earlier, as a decree exists from 51 BC with Ptolemy's name
alone). She tried to raise a rebellion around Pelusium, but she was soon forced to flee with her only remaining sister,
Relation with Julius Caesar
Assassination of Pompey
While Cleopatra was in exile, Pompey became embroiled in the Roman civil war. In the autumn of 48 BC, Pompey fled from the
forces of Caesar to Alexandria, seeking sanctuary. Ptolemy, only fifteen years old at that time, had set up a throne for
himself on the harbour, from where he watched as on September 28, 48 BC, Pompey was murdered by one of his former officers,
now in Ptolemaic service. He was beheaded in front of his wife and children, who were on the ship from which he had just
disembarked. Ptolemy is thought to have ordered the death to ingratiate himself with Caesar, thus becoming an ally of Rome, to
which Egypt was in debt at the time, though this act proved a miscalculation on Ptolemy's part. When Caesar arrived in Egypt
two days later, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey's severed head; Caesar was enraged. Although he was Caesar's political
enemy, Pompey was a Consul of Rome and the widower of Caesar's only legitimate daughter, Julia (who died in childbirth with
Pompey's son). Caesar seized the Egyptian capital and imposed himself as arbiter between the rival claims of Ptolemy and
Relationship with Julius Caesar
Eager to take advantage of Julius Caesar's anger toward Ptolemy, Cleopatra had herself smuggled secretly into the palace to
meet with Caesar. One legend claims she entered past Ptolemy’s guards rolled up in a carpet. She became Caesar’s mistress,
and nine months after their first meeting, in 47 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to their son, Ptolemy Caesar, nicknamed Caesarion,
which means "little Caesar".
At this point Caesar abandoned his plans to annex Egypt, instead backing Cleopatra's claim to the throne. After a war lasting
six months between the party of Ptolemy XIII and the Roman army of Caesar, Ptolemy XIII was drowned in the Nile and Caesar
restored Cleopatra to her throne, with another younger brother Ptolemy XIV as her new co-ruler.
Although Cleopatra was 21 years old when they met and Caesar was 52, they became lovers during Caesar’s stay in Egypt between
48 BC and 47 BC. Cleopatra claimed Caesar was the father of her son and wished him to name the boy his heir, but Caesar
refused, choosing his grandnephew Octavian instead. During this relationship, it is also rumored that Cleopatra introduced
Caesar to her astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria, who first proposed the idea of leap day and leap years.
Cleopatra, Ptolemy XIV and Caesarion visited Rome in summer 46 BC, where the Egyptian queen resided in one of Caesar's country
houses. The relationship between Cleopatra and Caesar was obvious to the Roman people and it was a scandal, because the
Roman dictator was already married to Calpurnia Pisonis. But Caesar even erected a golden statue of Cleopatra represented as
Isis in the temple of Venus Genetrix (the mythical ancestress of Caesar's family), which was situated at the Forum Julium.
The Roman orator Cicero said in his preserved letters that he hated the foreign queen. Cleopatra and her entourage were in
Rome when Caesar was assassinated on 15 March, 44 BC. She returned with her relatives to Egypt. When Ptolemy XIV died –
allegedly poisoned by his older sister - Cleopatra made Caesarion her co-regent and successor and gave him the epithets Theos
Philopator Philometor (= Father- and motherloving God)...
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