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Cleopatra lived from 69 BC to 30 BC in ancient Egypt. Her full name was Cleopatra VII Philopator and she was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. The name Cleopatra comes from the Greek name Κλεοπάτρα (Kleopatra) which means “she who comes from glorious father” or “glory of the father”. She was a member of the Ptolemy dynasty and she was the seventh person in that dynasty to be named Cleopatra. She was a daughter of Ptolemy XII. The Ptolemys were not of Egyptian ancestry but were Macedonian Greek. Cleopatra also had two brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. As was customary in ancient Egyptian times, the daughters and sons of the ruling family often married one another. This was so they could continue to control and rule Egypt for many generations within the same royal family. Eventually, Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XII dies in 51 BC. Upon his death he wanted the throne to pass to Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII. As a result, Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII married and ruled Egypt together. Cleopatra was determined to rule on her own and her brother’s guardians knew this. As a result, they revolted against her and made her leave Alexandria in 49 BC.
Cleopatra, still wanted to rule Egypt by herself, and so she decided to make a plan to create a relationship with Julius Caesar, a Roman leader, to help her make this come true. In 48 BC, Cleopatra made an impression on Caesar, not because of her beauty, but most likely because of the audacity of her plan of approaching him to help her to take over and rule Egypt. It may also have helped that Cleopatra at the time was one of the richest women in the world if not the richest.
In 47 BC, Cleopatra become Caesar’s mistress and Caesar uses his army to defeat her ruling brother Ptolemy XIII. Caesar then makes Cleopatra and her younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, the new rulers of Egypt. A year later, Cleopatra gives birth to Caesar’s child whom they name Ptolemy Caesar but also call him Caesarion. Cleopatra joins Caesar in Rome along with their son and her brother Ptolemy XIV. In 44 BC, Caesar is assassinated because his enemies in the senate saw him getting too powerful. Shortly after that, Cleopatra leaves Rome and returns to Egypt with her son and her brother. Soon after her brother, Ptolemy XIV, dies of poisoning. Many think that this poisoning was ordered by Cleopatra so that she could make her son, Caesarion a co-ruler as Ptolemy XV.
In 42 BC, Mark Antony, leader of the Roman forces wanted to attack the Persian Empire and asked for Cleopatra to join him. He did this because he needed her help both financially and militarily. Cleopatra, having lost the protection Caesar provided, needed another Roman leader to protect her. They form a partnership and she helps Mark Antony with his battles and secures protection for her continued rule of Egypt. She even has Mark Antony send orders to have her younger sister, Arsinoe killed in Rome as she was a rival for her throne. Eventually, Mark Antony and Cleopatra have twins, a boy named Alexander Helios and a girl named Cleopatra Selene. In 37 BC, Mark Antony marries Cleopatra in Antioch. At this time Mark Antony and Octavian, Julius Caesar’s adopted son, are battling each other for rule over the Romans while attempting to still expand the Roman empire. Over the next several years their relationship grew worse and worse.
In 31 BC, they ended up fighting one another at the Battle of Actium. Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s forces were defeated by Octavian and as a result, he commits suicide. Cleopatra realizes that Octavian will always see her as just an enemy so she sends her son Caesarion away and then intends to commit suicide. Before she can do this though, she is taken captive by Octavian’s forces. Cleopatra is still intent on committing suicide and somehow convinces someone to bring her an asp, a poisonous snake. She then allowed the snake to bite her and as a result she died. More recent studies in 2010 surmise that she died by drinking a mixture of poisons. Regardless, Cleopatra died on August 12, 30 BC.
After Cleopatra’s death her son Caesarion, was declared pharaoh by his supporters. However, he was killed by Octavian’s forces shortly after taking the throne. Soon after that, Egypt was taken over by Octavian and it became the Roman province of Aegyptus.
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