Saturday 17 September 2016


As a daughter of Ptolemy XII of Egypt, Cleopatra VII belonged to the Ptolemaic Dynasty, set up by the first Ptolemy, one of the generals of Alexander the Great. The Romans supported the Ptolemaic monarchs in return for financial favors.


When Cleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, died in 51 BC, Cleopatra, as the eldest surviving daughter, ascended the throne with a younger brother. According to the tradition, the king and queen were brother and sister as well as husband and wife, so she was expected to marry her brother Ptolemy XIII. 

Her brother, wanting to keep power to himself, exiled Cleopatra. In 48 BC, when the Roman political and military leader Julius Caesar led a military campaign to Egypt, Cleopatra feared for her life and fell in love with him. He defeated an Egyptian army led by one Cleopatra's sisters, Arsinoe IV. In the same campaign, Ptolemy XIII drowned - pulled into Nile by weight of his body armour made of gold. After his death, Cleopatra began to rule Egypt with her youngest brother Ptolemy XIV.

Arsinoe IV

Cleopatra gave birth to Caesarion, which may have been biological son of Caesar. After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she organized assassination of Ptolemy XIV, replacing him with her son Ptolemy XV(Caesarion). For next three years, Cleopatra was careful to avoid power struggle that broke out in Rome after Caesar's death.

By 42 BC, Mark Antony and Octavian(future emperor Augustus) were in control of Rome. Antont and Cleopatra meets at Tarsus,Turkey and become lovers. In 40 BC, she bears twins, Alexander Helios  and Cleopatra Selene, fathered by Mark AntonyWhen Antony's wife, Fulvia, died in 40 BC, he married Octavian's sister Octevia, sealing a peace deal with him. In 37 BC, Antony visited Egypt and being in love with Cleopatra, married her while still been married to Octavian's sister.

In 37 BC, seated on golden thrones, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, proclaimed themselves as living gods - she Isis and he Dionysus/Osiris and their children as rulers of the land, currently dominated by Rome. After this, Octavian had no difficulty in persuading the Roman senate to declare a war against Cleopatra.

The Death of Cleopatra by Juan Luna 1881

After her defeat by the Romans at Battle of Actium, fought off the coast of Greece, she fled to Egypt followed by Antony. Antony was besieged at Alexandria and was killed. Cleopatra learning about his fate killed herself to avoid being taken prisoner of war supposedly by a snake bite. Octavian honoured her last wish to be buried near Mark Antony. Her eldest son Caesarion was executed but lives of rest of her children were spared.

Cleopatra and Isis
This limestone stele shows Cleopatra(left) breast feeding her son while making an offering to the goddess Isis. She later claimed to be reincarnation of Isis. Daughter of the Earth and Sky, and sister-wife of god Osiris, Isis was the principle goddess of Ancient Egypt. (The Realm of Osiris)

Goddess Isis

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