| Pharaoh Ptolomy XII died in year 51 b.C. leaving the throne to his 18 year old daughter,and 12 year old son, Ptolomy XIII. Cleopatra VII was born on 69 b.C. in Alexandria, the capital of Egypt during her time. Cleopatra's family were descendants of Ptolomy I who reigned in Egypt right after Alexander The Great. She had two older sisters, Cleopatra VI and Berenice IV and a younger one, Arsinoe IV. She also had two younger brothers, Ptolomy XIII and XIV. Cleopatra VI died during her childhood and Berenice IV was ordered decapitaded by her own father.
Pompey, a roman leader was left in charge of the royal children. During the decades following Ptolomy XII's death, the Ptolomys were allied to the romans, but these started to expand their kingdom at a fast rate. The Ptolomys had to create a pact so romans would not invade Egypt, but they slowly started taking over anyway, making egyptians pay big contributions and taxes to Rome just to keep them out. According to egyptian law Cleopatra needed a husband figure in order to rule Egypt, no matter what age or relation he was to her. She married her 12 year old brother Ptolomy XIII, shortly after the marriage she started leaving him out of official documents, and even made a coin with her portrait on it.
On state matters, all around Cleopatra was going awry. Rome had already managed to invade, and conquer egyptian-owned land, and the egyptians themselves had homes full of famine. She had a strong heart, this macedonian queen who wanted to turn Egypt into the centre of the world, no matter what the consequences and she almost achieved it. If she tried for her own dreams, or to seek power it is unknown. Many think that she would have saved Alexandria no matter the price.
At a mere 21 years of age Cleopatra had surprised and astonished some of the most powerful court members trough her actions. Once, Syria's governor sent his three sons for help to Alexandria to defeat the Parthians, and what did she do? She ordered her mercenaries to kill all three of them. A group leaded by Theodotus, Pothinus and Achillas preffered her young brother/husband as a competitor over her, believing that he would be easier to influence and after they had become his counselors. Is it thought that because of this intention Cleopatra had fled to Thebes.
From 51 to 49 b.C. Egypt suffered hunger and failed harvests because of scarce annual floods; Ptolomy XIII prohibited grain shipments to be transported out of Alexandria, surely to deprive Cleopatra and her followers from any kind of support. However she managed to form an army composed of arabian soldiers from the east of Pelusium. Later on she, and sister Arsinoe IV moved to Syria.
Meanwhile, Pompey had already been defeated at Pharsalus on year 48 b.C. He headed to Alexandria where he thought Ptolomy XIII would provide shelter. His reputation had been damaged and as soon as he docked, he was stabbed. The pharaoh merely watched. Four days after, Julius Ceasar arrived in Egypt with thirty-two thousand warriors, eight-hundred on chariots and twelve specially trained soldiers wearing the roman insignia. This was considered a symbol of authority, and it clearly revealed his intentions. He had Ptolomy XIII arrested and sent to Pelusium; he started giving out orders. Pothinus brought Ptolomy XII back to Alexandria and Cleopatra had no intentions of being left out either. She enrolled herself in a fine carpet that was taken to the palace as a gift. As it was opened she rolled out of it into the floor. Ceasar was enchanted by her and spent the night with her.
In the morning he would meet again with both rulers; Cleopatra and Ptolomy XIII. The boy inmediatly found out that they had slept together and was enraged, he ran and yelled all around the town saying that he had been betrayed. Of course, Ceasar's guards captured him and returned him to the palace. It is thought that Ceasar had planned to make Cleopatra the ruler of Egypt because she would be like a puppet for Rome. The Alexandrian War started when Pothinus ordered Ptolomy XIII's soldiers to surround Ceasar. During this war some storage yards and parts of the famous library were burned, but at least the lighthouse was saved. The war lasted around six months. Arsinoe IV fled the palace to meet up with Achillas and was proclaimed Queen by the town and Army. Cleopatra never forgave her for it. During the battle Ceasar executed Pothinus, and Achillas was assasinated. Ptolomy XIII drowned in the Nile while trying to escape, thanks to his death Cleopatra VII was now Egypt's sole ruler, and Ceasar restored her position. This did not last long.
She now had to marry her other brother Ptolomy XIV to please her people, and the egyptian priests. Ceasar just couldn't have gone through all this trouble for an adventurous affair, surely he desired to put his hands on Egypt's abundant resources, but her intelligence and ancestry were quite interesting to him as well. Cleopatra got pregnant by Ceasar quickly, and having a succesor for Egypt's throne made him very proud. They both took a two month cruise on the Nile and stopped in Dendera where Cleopatra was worshiped as pharaoh. Ceasar would never have that honor. He only left the boat to deal with important business matters. It is said that they would have gone up to Ethiopia if their troops would have agreed to accompany them.
Ceasar Ptolomy was born on the 23rd of June, year 47 b.C. During summer of that year Ceasar returned to Rome where he was given various honors including a ten year dictatorship and a golden chair in the senate. These celebrations lasted two months, but he had left four legions in Alexandria to protect Cleopatra, so he sent for her and her assistants. The romans were enfuriated when he established her in his own housing complex for nearly two years, and her social manners did not help her either. She started proclaiming herself as the new Isis which also offended some, and caused alot of talking. Cleopatra VII lived in full luxury and ordered a golden statue made of her, Ceasar put it in Venus Genetrix's temple. He also dared to declare Ceasar Ptolomy (also called Ceasarion) his son, and planned to marry Cleopatra, ignoring the roman laws against bigamy and marriage to foreigners. He bathed her with gifts and titles.
Anyway, this met it's end when the Great Ceasar was stabbed outside the senate walls by some of his own senators in 44 b.C. They obviously saw him as a threat to the "Republic". Rumors were being spread that he was planning to make himself emperor of Rome, make a law that permitted him to declare Ceasarion as his only succesor, and marry Cleopatra VII while he was still married to Calpurnia.
This death caused the division of Rome between Octavian, Lepidus and Marc Anthony. After her lover's assasination, Cleopatra fled Rome and went back to Alexandria believing that both her life and Ceasarion's were in danger. It was too late for Ceasar, and he didn't get to put them in his will, so Cleopatra got Ptolomy XIV killed, and established Ceasarion as her co-regent at the age of four. She found Egypt suffering with plage and famine, the water canals had not been taken care of during her absence which led to bad harvests and low floods. It took two years to recover from this negligence.
Hopeful to obtain a secure recognition for Ceasarion as pharaoh from Ceasar's lieutenant Dolabella, Cleopatra sent him the four legions Ceasar had left her. Unfortunately, the legions were captured and it caused Dolabella to commit suicide on 43 b.C. Her immediate plan was to unite with Marc Anthony and Ceasar's nephew Octavian with a float of ships after Dolabella's death, but they were stopped by a inopportune violent storm. Cleopatra VII observed who would be the next great power in Rome, and it turned out to be Lepidus and Octavian. She knew whom she would have to deal with. Ceasarion finally got his recognition in 42 b.C., but his mother's main objective was to get it from Octavian. But, of course that he knew of her friendship with Dolabella. Cleopatra VII was later on invited by Marc Anthony to Tarsus; actually Turkey in year 41 b.C. She already knew how to catch him, his ambition, his vulgarity, his obsession for women, his lack of sophistication and his love for wine and pleasure. And last but not least, his limited tactic and strategic habilities. Although Egypt was on the brink of bankrupcy Cleopatra managed to prepare a spectacle for him that nobody could have done in a lifetime. She navigated with silver oars, a golden stern, and purple veils. Boys dressed as Cupid fanned her, her female servants steered the boat as marine nymphs, and she was dressed as Aphrodite/Venus. Alot considered this an offense, but it was a vulgar reception for a vulgar man.
Marc Anthony loved the idea of being with a Ptolomeic woman, his wife, and lover both belonged to the middle class. Marc Anthony and Cleopatra spent 41 and 40 b.C.'s winter season together. It was said that she could get anything from him, including the execution of her sister Arsinoe IV. She wasn't of that much influence to him later though, Marc Anthony took Cyprus from Cleopatra VII but he needed the money and power and she could be very generous if something in return came with it. On spring, 40 b.C. Marc Anthony left Cleopatra and went home, he did not see each other in four years. His wife Fluvia was having problems with Octavian, and she fled to Greece where she had a bad confrontation with Marc Anthony. She got very sick, and died there. Marc Anthony patched things up with Octavian by marrying his sister Octavia; a beautiful and intelligent woman that had not long before been left a widow with three children.
Later Cleopatra gave Marc Anthony twins, and Octavia gave him a girl; if she had a boy who knows if history had been completely different. Marc Anthony mantained the idea of putting his hands on the Ptolomys treasures, and when he finally did, the percent of interest in Rome went from 12 to 4%. Octavia then gave him another daughter; he kept evading her company. The first thing he did when he arrived at Antioch was to send for Cleopatra, and his twins were oficially recognized. They were named: Alexander Helios, and Cleopatra Selene. Marc Anthony gave them the Cicilian Coast, and the lands of Cyrpus, Phoenicia, Judea, Coele-Judea and Arabia. This enabled Egypt to access a great reservoir of lumber from the Cicilian Coast.
This abundance caused the construction of a great float. Marc Anthony had planned a campaign against the Parthians, so obviously he needed Cleopatra VII's aid, unfortunately he was defeated in 36 b.C. He had another son with Cleopatra and when he got back to Syria she welcomed him with food, clothing and provisions. In reality, he became more endebted than ever. Octavia was heading to him with the same provisions, at the same time as Cleopatra was, but Marc Anthony sent her a message telling her to go back and to not advance anymore. This added more fury to Octavian, so he tried to provoke his sister's husband to war by constantly sending troops and floats; at this point war was just inevitable. Marc Anthony would have been able to fix things with Octavian, and his wife if he had returned to Rome that same year; Octavia actually remained loyal to him during all of it. In 34 b.C. he ordered a campaign to Armenia and was victorious, and economically rewarded, he celebrated his victory with a parade around Alexandria with Cleopatra VII as the New Isis and him as the New Dionysius. A few days later a more formal ceremony was done, in which titles were given to Cleopatra's sons and daughters while Marc Anthony sat on the throne. Ceasarion remained co-regent next to his mother. He was named "King of Kings", and Cleopatra "Queen of Kings"; a position higher than that of her first son. Twin Alexander Helios was named "Great King of the Seleucid Empire", and Cleopatra Selene "Queen of Cyrenaica and Crete". Marc Anthony and Cleopatra VII's last son Ptolomy Philadelphus was named "King of Syria and Asia" at a mere two years of age.
Cleopatra had the dream of being the ruler of the world, and she was very close to achieving it. From 32 to 31 b.C Marc Anthony got divorced, which obliged everyone to accept his relationship with Cleopatra VII. He made a coin with her name and portrait; the silver denar. This meant the end of his relationship with the roman empire so Octavian didn't hesitate to declare war to Cleopatra. Marc Anthony's name didn't appear in the declaration. Numerous false accusations were made against Cleopatra; that she was a "drunk foreigner" was the most common one. These were surely made because of envy and fear of her and Marc Anthony. Some thought they would start a new wave of conquest around the world while Cleopatra presided from Alexandria.
Anyhow; Octavian defeated Marc Anthony in Actium (now Greece) on September the 2nd of year 31 b.C. Marc Anthony thought Cleopatra had betrayed him because their naval troops had joined Octavian instead of fighting for him, his cavalry escaped, and his infantry was destroyed. After the defeat, in 30 b.C. Marc Anthony went back to Alexandria yelling that he had been betrayed by Cleopatra VII. Thinking he would hurt, or kill her she ran to her mausoleum and ordered her servants to inform him that she was dead. When he heard this he shouted: "Now, why wait more. Destiny has taken away the only reason I had to live!", he went to his room and ripped his shirt off saying he would soon be with his love. He ordered Eros, (one of his servants) to kill him, but he killed himself to avoid killing his master. Marc Anthony then said: "Very well Eros, you have showed your master to do what he did not dare". Marc Anthony stabbed himself in the stomach and rested on a sofa, his other servants arrived and found their master dying. He told them to end his anguish but they just ran away. Cleopatra's secretary went to Marc Anthony's room and found him there, he told him that Cleopatra wasn't dead, and wanted to see him. Excited that she was not dead he was carried to her mausoleum where she was locked; Cleopatra was fearful of opening the doors because Octavian and his troops were not far from taking Alexandria, so she and her servants lowered a rope from a window and the dying, glorious Marc Anthony was brought up. Distracted, Cleopatra rested him on her breasts and called him her lord and master, husband and emperor. Marc Anthony told her not to pity him, but to remember their happiness, and he died.
When Octavian got there a few minutes later she refused to let them in, demanding that her empire be left to her children. Octavian ordered that she be entertained while they put up ladders to enter through the window. When the first soldiers managed to get in, Cleopatra got hold of a dagger and tried to stab herself the same way as her beloved, but was disarmed and arrested with her children. Octavian permitted her to plan Marc Anthony's funeral, and she did it spendorously. When it was all over she went sad and depressed to her bed, distressed and anxious to end her life, but Octavian had her watched closely. One day he entered her room and the queen trew herself at his feet nearly naked claiming she wanted to live. It was donde to give him a false sense of security that she was not going to kill herself. Cleopatra was determined to die maybe because she had lost her Marc Anthony or because she thought she would be humiliated by Octavio in the same way she had her sister Arsinoe IV; shown as a slave on processions in the lands that she ruled over and Rome. One day she asked Octavio for permission to visit Marc Anthony's grave then she bathed and ordered a great banquet. While it was being prepared a man arrived at the door and with a basket full with figs that would be needed for the banquet. The guards inspected the basket and did not see anything suspicious so it was taken to Cleopatra VII. After she ate she wrote a letter to Octavio and sent it to him, it was opened, she was asking Octavio to bury her next to her love Marc Anthony, alarmed he sent messangers to his guards telling them that Cleopatra was planning to kill herself. When they got there they found the thirty-nine year old Queen laying on her golden bed; Iras one of her two loyal servants dying at Cleopatra's feet. Her other faithful servant Charmion was weakly fixing a crown on Cleopatra's head. A guard ask her if this had been planned by her mistresm she replied: "Yes, and well done as she was descendant of so many pharaohs", and she fell dead. Two punctures were found in the Queen's body, some say it was on her breasts. Cleopatra VII let an asp; an egyptian cobra, bite and poison her. The venemous snake had been hidden in the fig basket, her wish was obeyed and was burried with Marc Anthony. After her death on August the 12th, 30 b.C. Egypt was made into a Roman province, just added to their empire. According to egyptian mithology anyone who died like Cleopatra VII died was offered eternal life. The only other figure whose story is so memoreable was Alexander The Great who was also a macedonian and ambitious ruler. After his mother's death Cesarion was strangled by his tutor by Octavio's orders but Marc Anthony and Cleopatra VII's twins and youngest son were raised by Octavia. Cleopatra Selene married King Juba II of Mauretania and had two children Drusilia and another Tolomeo. Alexander Helios and Tolomeo Philadelphus were possibly killed because of being seen as threats to Octavio. Cleopatra's death marked the end of the egyptian monarchs, the Tolomeos were of macedonian origin but ruled as egyptian pharaohs. She was the last Great Pharaoh of Egypt. As you may already know she was very devote to her country, intelligent as her only Cesar, she knew nine languages to perfection and was the only Tolomeo who knew the egyptian language. Also a good mathematician and great business woman. Marc Anthony on the other hand almost made Cleopatra nuts with his ignorance and excesivity but she knew how to deal with him the best way she could and as we can see she knew what she was doing. Cleopatra VII defended her country very well, was born a leader and became a ambitious monarch that earned alot more than suicide.