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 name.
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
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."
1.1 Accession to the throne
1.2 Relation with Julius Caesar
1.3 Cleopatra in the Roman Civil War
1.4 Cleopatra and Mark Antony
2 Character and cultural depictions
6 Further reading
7 External links
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
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, Arsinoe...