Cleopatra Vii

Summary

Cleopatra VII Philopator (in Greek, Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ; January 69 BC – August 12, 30 BC) was the last effective pharaoh of Egypt's Ptolemaic dynasty. She originally shared power with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brothers Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she also married, but eventually gained sole rule. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name. When Caesar had to officay divorce her to become Emperior, he gave to Egypt his heir Octavian Augustus.

Family Ties

Caesarion (son) , Typhus (cousin), Arsinoe IV (sister)

Early History

Cleopatra's mother was Cleopatra V of Egypt; Cleopatra was born of her union with her brother, Ptolemy XII Auletes, who was a direct descendant of Alexander the Great's general, Ptolemy I Soter, son of Arsinoe and Lacus, both of Macedon.
Centralization of power and corruption led to uprisings in and the losses of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, making Ptolemy's reign one of the most calamitous of the dynasty. When Ptolemy went to Rome with Cleopatra, Cleopatra VI Tryphaena seized the crown but died shortly afterwards in suspicious circumstances. It is believed, though not proven by historical sources, that Berenice IV poisoned her so she could assume sole rulership. Regardless of the cause, she did until Ptolemy Auletes returned in 55 BC, with Roman support, capturing Alexandria aided by Roman general Aulus Gabinius. Berenice was imprisoned and executed shortly afterwards, her head allegedly being sent to the royal court on the decree of her father, the king. Cleopatra was now, at age 14, put as joint regent and deputy of her father, although her power was likely to have been severely limited.

Ptolemy XII died in March 51 BC, thus by his will making the 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 12-year-old Ptolemy XIII joint monarchs. The first three years of their reign were difficult, due to economic difficulties, famine, deficient floods of the Nile, and political conflicts. Although Cleopatra was married to her young brother, she quickly made it clear that she had no intention of sharing power with him.
In August 51 BC, relations between Cleopatra and Ptolemy completely broke down. Cleopatra dropped Ptolemy's name from official documents and her face appeared alone on coins, which went against Ptolemaic tradition of female rulers being subordinate to male co-rulers. This resulted in a cabal of courtiers, led by the eunuch Pothinus, removing Cleopatra from power and making Ptolemy sole ruler in circa 48 BC (or possibly earlier, as a decree exists from 51 BC with Ptolemy's name alone). She tried to raise a rebellion around Pelusium, but she was soon forced to flee with her only remaining sister, Arsinoë.

While Cleopatra was in exile, Pompey became embroiled in the Roman civil war. In the autumn of 48 BC, Pompey fled from the forces of Julius Caesar to Alexandria, seeking sanctuary. Ptolemy, only fifteen years old at that time, had set up a throne for himself on the harbour from where he watched as on September 28 48 BC Pompey was murdered by one of his former officers, now in Ptolemaic service. He was beheaded in front of his wife and children, who were on the ship from which he had just disembarked. Ptolemy is thought to have ordered the death to ingratiate himself with Julius Caesar, thus becoming an ally of Rome, to which Egypt was in financial debt at the time. This was a catastrophic miscalculation on Ptolemy's part. When Caesar arrived in Egypt two days later, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey's severed head. Caesar was enraged. Although he was Caesar's political enemy, Pompey was a Consul of Rome and the widower of Caesar's only legitimate daughter, Julia (who died in childbirth with their son). Caesar seized the Egyptian capital and imposed himself as arbiter between the rival claims of

Eager to take advantage of Julius Caesar's anger with Ptolemy, Queen Cleopatra returned to the palace rolled into a Persian carpet and had it presented to Caesar by her servants: when it was unrolled, Cleopatra tumbled out.[8] It is believed that Caesar was charmed by the gesture, and she became his mistress. Nine months after their first meeting, Cleopatra gave birth to their baby, in 47 BC. It was at this point that Caesar abandoned his plans to annex Egypt, instead backing Cleopatra's claim to the throne. After a war lasting six months between the party of Ptolemy XIII and the Roman army of Caesar, Ptolemy XIII was drowned in the Nile and Caesar restored Cleopatra to her throne, with another younger brother Ptolemy XIV as new co-ruler.

Despite a more than thirty-year age difference, Cleopatra and Caesar became lovers during his stay in Egypt between 48 BC and 47 BC. They met when they were 21 (Cleopatra) and 52 (Caesar). On 23 June 47 BC Cleopatra gave birth to a child, Ptolemy Caesar (nicknamed "Caesarion" which means "little Caesar"). Cleopatra claimed Caesar was the father and wished him to name the boy his heir, but Caesar refused, choosing his grandnephew Octavian instead. Caesarion was the intended inheritor of Egypt and Rome, uniting the East and the West.

After the assassination attempt, Caesar cast her out and hed true to Rome.

Rumors

The rumors are very exaggerated about her beauty, but it is her wit and intelligence that truly inspire legends.

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