Born Cleopatra VII Philopator in Alexandria, Egypt in 69BC, but known to all as Cleopatra.
She was the last active pharoah of Ptolomaic Egypt as following her reign Egypt became a province of Rome.
Cleopatra’s father was Ptolomy XII, but who her mother was is unclear. Following her father’s death in 51BC, Cleopatra and her 10 year old brother Ptolomy XIII became joint monarchs.
This rule was not a happy one as both wished to rule alone and not share power; therefore relations were strained. Initially as Cleopatra was older, she undertook much of the work however she fell from power around 48BC and fled Alexandria, leaving Ptolomy to rule alone.
Julius Caesar arrived in Egypt in 48BC in pursuit of Pompey Magnus, but he had been killed on the orders of Ptolomy. Cleopatra wished to form an alliance with Caesar to depose Ptolomy and take the throne for herself. She was smuggled into the palace wrapped up in a carpet, to meet with Caesar.
Caesar fought Ptolomy’s army at the Battle of the Nile and defeated them, Cleopatra then took the throne.
Cleopatra had finally got what she wanted, the rule of Egypt, and she was popular with her people. Her wish was to keep Egypt independent of Rome.
Cleopatra was to become Caesar’s lover and she bore him a son ‘Caesarian’ 9 months later. She was desperate to get Caesar to name her son as his heir but he refused.
Their relationship continued with Cleopatra and Caesarian visiting Caesar in Rome. Indeed they were in Rome when he was assassinated in 41BC. Following this she returned with her son to Egypt.
To protect Egypt, Cleopatra formed an alliance with Marc Antony in 41BC, against Caesar’s legal heir and adopted son Octavian. Cleopatra wanted her son Caesarian named as the next ruler of Rome and she believed that Antony could help her achieve this.
Antony and Cleopatra became lovers and she bore him 3 children, twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II and a son Ptolomy Philadelphus, but still she wanted her son by Caesar, Caesarian as ruler of Rome.
Octavian fought with Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31BC and defeated them, he then marched on Rome.
Following the defeat at Actium, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra then followed suit and committed suicide by a poisonous asp (snake) biting her on the chest. She died on 12 August 30BC.
Cleopatra’s name means ‘she who comes from glorious father’. She was a popular ruler who was loved by her people and she ruled over them for 21 years.
The one thing she had always fought for was now lost as Octavian, following Cleopatra’s death took control of Egypt. It’s independence was now gone and it was to become a province of Rome.