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The Rule of Cleopatra VII Philopator

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Cleopatra VII 69-30 BC is the last queen of Hellenistic Egypt from the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty. She was glorified by the dramatic love story with the Roman commander Mark Antony. In the last years of her rule, Egypt was conquered by Rome.

Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt for 21 years consistently in co-management with her brothers (they are traditionally formal husbands) Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, then in actual marriage with Roman commander Mark Antony. She was the last independent ruler of Egypt before the Roman conquest, and often, although not quite correctly, is considered the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. She became widely known for her love affair with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. With Caesar, she had a Caesarion, and with Antony two sons and a daughter.

Personality and appearance

The true appearance of Cleopatra is not easy to discern. There are no reliable images that accurately, without idealization, would convey hear physical appearance. Profiles on coins show a woman with wavy hair, large eyes, a prominent chin and a nose with a hump. On the other hand, it is known that Cleopatra was charming, attractive, used it very well for seduction, and she also had a charming voice and a brilliant, sharp mind. Cleopatra clearly had a good education, which, superimposed on her natural mind, produced excellent results.

The Path to the Throne

The will of Ptolemy XII transferred the throne to Cleopatra and her younger brother Ptolemy XIII, who was then about 9 years old, and with whom she was married, as according to the Ptolemaic custom, a woman could not reign alone. Among the co-rulers, the struggle began immediately. Cleopatras first moves were to remove her younger brother, but then the latter took revenge. The turning point was the flight of the Roman senator Pompey to Egypt and his assassination by Ptolemy’s supporters.

Cleopatra and Caesar

Caesar, who in the pursuit of Pompey landed in Egypt, was enraged by this violence on a Roman commander. Caesar tried to replenish his treasury with the help of debts that Ptolemy XII made. Caesar announced his intention to act as an arbiter in the dispute of the kings. Caesar was interested in Cleopatra, who could become a puppet that owed him power.

Soon after his arrival, he summoned Cleopatra to his place in Alexandria. The 52-year-old Caesar was captivated by a young queen. When the next morning, Caesar announced this to the 13-year-old king – he ran out of the palace in a fury and, tearing off his diadem, began to shout to the gathered people that he had been betrayed. Caesar at that moment managed to calm him down. However, the situation for Caesar complicated. As a result, Caesar in September 48 BC was besieged and cut off from reinforcements in the royal district of Alexandria. The rebels were defeated on January 15, 47 BC at the Mareotian Lake, when King Ptolemy fled, he drowned in the Nile. Cleopatra became the undisputed ruler of Egypt under the Roman protectorate.

Caesar was killed as a result of the conspiracy on March 15, 44 BC. Cleopatra left Rome. Soon after, the 14-year-old Ptolemy XIV, Cleopatra co-ruler died. The birth of a son Cesarion gave Cleopatra a formal co-ruler. The war between the assassins of Caesar, Cassius and Brutus on the one hand, and his heirs Anthony and Octavian on the other, demanded from the queen of resourcefulness. The East was in the hands of the assassins of Caesar. In 42 BC Republicans were defeated at Philippi. The situation for Cleopatra immediately changed.

Cleopatra and Antony

In the division of the Roman world, Anthony got the East. Antony decides to implement the Caesar project – a great campaign against the Parthians. Cleopatra, learning about the character of Antony wanted to seduce him and Antony was completely fascinated by her. So began the love story, which lasted ten years, one of the most famous in history. We can not judge what was the share of political calculation in the relationship.  Cleopatra needed Antony to implement her plans. Anthony only with the help of Egyptian money could maintain his huge army.

End and death

Octavian wanted a war against Egypt and Mark Antony so that he can become the only ruler of Rome. On the part of Antony and Cleopatra, a fleet of 500 ships was prepared for the war, 200 of them Egyptian. Antony led the war languidly, indulging together with Cleopatra in the feasts and festivities.  Cleopatras stay in the camp of Antony, her constant intrigues against everyone in whom she saw her detractors, served Antony badly, prompting many of his supporters to run over to the enemy.

Agrippa managed to block the fleet of Antony and Cleopatra. Their troops began to feel a lack of food. Cleopatra insisted on a sea breakthrough. On the military council, this opinion prevailed. The result was a sea battle at the Actium on September 2, 31 BC When Cleopatra was frightened that the victory was slipping away, she decided to flee with her entire fleet. Antony ran after her. His defeated fleet surrendered to Octavian, and then the demoralized land army surrendered without a fight.

Cleopatra with trusted servants locked herself in the building of her own tomb. Anthony was given false news about her suicide. Anthony rushed to his sword. Soon he was dragged into the tomb, and he died in the arms of Cleopatra, who was crying over him. Cleopatra herself, holding the dagger in her hand, showed a willingness to die, but entered into negotiations with the envoy of Octavian, allowed him to enter the building of the tomb. Apparently, Cleopatra still had a weak hope of seducing Octavian, or at least to agree with him and to keep the kingdom. Octavian showed less submissiveness to seduction than Caesar and Anthony.

Cleopatra ordered a letter to be sent to Octavian. He received a letter in which he found complaints and a request to bury her along with Antony, and he immediately sent people to her. They found Cleopatra dead, in a royal dress, on a golden bed.

Sources:

  • Pierre Dex. Cleopatra.
  • Suetonius , “Divine Julius”, “Augustus”
  • Bengtson G. Rulers of the Hellenistic Age
  • Grant M. Cleopatra: The Last of the Ptolemies
  • Egorov AP Antony and Cleopatra: Rome and Egypt: Meeting of Civilizations
  • Fletcher D. Cleopatra the Great: A woman standing behind a legend.
  • Fran I. Cleopatra, or the Inimitable
  • Shavo M. The daily life of Egypt in the time of Cleopatra.
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