Cleopatra,

Cleopatra,

Pharaoh of Egypt, Advanced


C leopatra VII was the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt and one of the most famous women in history. Cleopatra was born into royalty around 69 BC and her tragic life eventually became the inspiration of a Shakespeare play. Her family ruled Egypt for more than 100 years and at the age of 14, she received her first official position in the Egyptian courts alongside her father, a direct descendant of Alexander the Great’s general.

Cleopatra became the joint Pharaoh of Egypt at the age of 18 after her father passed away. She shared the throne with her 10-year-old brother. The siblings were married as was customary in ancient Egypt, but their relationship took a turn for the worse almost immediately. Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII got into a struggle for power over Egypt which resulted in Cleopatra fleeing the city.

It was around this time that she met Julius Caesar, the leader of Rome and a man who was 31 years her elder. Stories say Cleopatra hid inside a rolled up carpet to meet him. The fruit of their relationship gave them a son and Cleopatra an army to defeat her brother. After four months of battling her brother’s army, Cleopatra reclaimed her throne in Egypt. Her brother ran away from the city of Alexandria and is believed to have drowned in the Nile River during his escape. After becoming the leader of Egypt once again, Cleopatra moved into a house just outside of Rome. She lived there until Caesar’s assassination.

After Caesar’s death, Cleopatra returned to Egypt and sent soldiers to Rome. Cleopatra helped Mark Antony, Rome’s contested ruler, and other Roman leaders defeat Caesar’s killers, then she sailed to Turkey to meet Antony. He promised to protect Egypt and Cleopatra’s rule. The two eventually became a couple and had 3 children, 2 of which were twins. They fought to gain power over Rome and even tried to convince the Romans that Cleopatra’s firstborn son was the rightful heir to Caesar’s throne. These efforts were met without success as the Roman’s saw Cleopatra as a foreigner.  

Octavian, Mark Antony’s old ally, now fought against Mark and Cleopatra for rule over Rome. After many hardships and battles with Octavian, Cleopatra and Mark Antony were separated. It was during this time that Antony received a false report that Cleopatra had been killed. Antony was heartbroken and committed suicide by falling on his sword. Cleopatra having heard the news of Antony’s death ended her own life with the venom of a snake. The couple was later laid to rest together.

Shortly after her death, Egypt became part of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra is remembered for her beauty, charisma, and hunger for power. She died at the age of 39.


Source: https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/cleopatra

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