Discover Cleopatra, the queen of the Nile, the woman who had Ancient Egypt at her feet and who fell in love with Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar. Centuries have gone by, and the fascination with Cleopatra persists today.
The Egyptian queen is depicted in popular culture, cinema, and mentioned in school history books, but do you know who she was? How did Cleopatra die, how many children did she have? Discover this and much more about his iconic Egyptian leader and her reign.
Cleopatra was, without a doubt, a very stubborn woman, willing to do anything for her kingdom. She was the last queen of Egypt between 51 and 30 BC.
Cleopatra was born in 69 a.C., and her name signifies "the glory of her father." Her most beloved desire was to restore the greatness of Egypt in the face of an increasingly mighty Roman Empire. Upon the death of her father, she married her stepbrother and ascended to the throne with the name of Cleopatra VII.
Unfortunately, she quickly withdraws from power, and her brother tries to kill her to rule alone. Cleopatra was forced to flee to Syria.
But Cleopatra had not said her last word. Using her charm and intelligence, she managed to convince Julius Caesar, who was about to invade her kingdom, to leave her the throne of Egypt.
The Egyptian queen ultimately had a son with Caesar whom she named Cesarion, and had hoped would become Caesar's successor in the Roman empire. The queen settled in Rome, however, a few years later, Cesar was killed, and she had to return to Egypt.
This situation meant that Octavio, Caesar's adopted son, and Mark Anthony were left to fight over the throne of the Roman Empire.
Caesarion was not the only child Cleopatra had, but he was her firstborn. She also had three more children with Mark Anthony, who, at the time, was dividing the world between himself and Octavio: one will have the West and the other the East.
Unfortunately, for this agreement to be effective, Mark Antony was forced to marry Octavia the Younger, Octavius' elder sister. Octavia made him choose between her and Cleopatra with the understanding that choosing the Egyptian queen would automatically make him an enemy of the Roman Empire.
Mark Antony chose Cleopatra and returned to Egypt as an enemy of Rome. The pair reunited forces and fought against Octavio, but Mark Anthony's troops were defeated. Desperate and believing that Cleopatra had been killed he committed suicide. The revenge was complete when Octavio's forces assassinated Cesarion, Cleopatra's eldest.
Ancient Egypt was devastated and at the mercy of the Roman Empire; Cleopatra had failed in her attempt to recover the essence of what her people were. Before being captured and taken to Rome to be humiliated in public, the great queen sank her hand in a basket with a sacred serpent (an asp) and died because of the poisonous bite.
1. During Cleopatra's reign, the city of Alexandria gave shelter to the pharaohs and was one of the most beautiful places in the world. Luxury was in abundance in Alexandria; it had beautiful temples and a bustling port that featured on all the maps of the time. However, most of the treasures that made it great were destroyed by the earthquakes that shook the region in the fourth century of our era.
2. Cleopatra is the daughter of King Ptolemy XII. The identity of her mother remains unknown to this day.
3. At the age of 10, Cleopatra discovered that pharaohs must fight for the throne, even with people from their own family. Thus, when the crowd rose against her father, Cleopatra witnessed her sister Berenice steal her father's place; but in the end, King Ptolemy regained power and killed his treacherous daughter.
4. Cleopatra was a small girl with high intelligence. She had a real desire to learn and quickly mastered five languages, including Egyptian, something that was not common among kings.
5. The marriage of Cleopatra with her half-brother Ptolemy XIII was a condition of her father so that he could inherit the throne of Egypt.
6. Rome was very interested in Egypt, a territory brimming with riches. Julius Caesar travelled to Alexandria to speak with Cleopatra, but because her brother had banished her, Cleopatra used a different strategy to meet the Roman emperor. The Egyptian queen hid in a fishing bag and entered Caesar's palace without attracting any attention. This allowed her to make an extraordinary appearance before Julius Caesar, who fell prey to the charms of the 21-year old queen.
7. When Cleopatra made her first trip to Rome, all the women wanted to see her. Her exoticism fed their curiosities and inspired Roman fashion and accessories. Cleopatra was famous for her beauty treatments, which were preserved in a manuscript known as "Kosmètikon Kléopatra." Interestingly enough, the book lacks one of Cleopatra's most famous beauty routine: bathing in donkey milk to stay young.
8. The death of Cleopatra still raises questions. To escape the clutches of Octavio, she decided to commit suicide. The tale of the snake is the most widespread, but some authors suggest that she succumbed to a poison that had been passed on to her without the knowledge of the Romans. Her body was never recovered. The death of Cleopatra brought about the demise of the entire Egypt dynasties, thus ending 3000 years of history.