(69 BC – August 12, 30 BC) (aged 39)
Unique distinction: The most ever famous queens of all times in ancient Egypt, the first ruler of the dynasty to learn Egyptian, the last Pharaoh of Egypt.
Quotes: 1. My honour was not yielded, but conquered merely. 2. Celerity is never more admired than by the negligent. 3. All strange and terrible events are welcome, but comforts we despise. 4. Eternity was in our lips and eyes. 5. I am fire and air; my other elements I give to baser life. 6. Be it known that we, the greatest, are misthought. 7. I have Immortal longings in me. (Quotes from “Antony and Cleopatra” by William Shakespeare). 8. A woman too must make the barren land fruitful. She must make life grow where there was no life. 9. There are never enough hours in the days of a queen, and her nights have too many.(Quotes from film “Cleopatra”, 1963).
Achievements and contributions:
The main contribution to (what is known): Queen of Egypt from 51-30 BC, one of the great romantic rulers of all times famous for her beauty, charm and willpower.
Contributions: She also adopted common Egyptian beliefs and deities. Her patron goddess was Isis, and thus during her reign, it was believed that she was the re-incarnation and embodiment of the goddess of wisdom.
Cleopatra’s death marks the end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Hellenistic period and the beginning of the Roman era in the eastern Mediterranean.
As such Cleopatra’s language was the Greek spoken by the Hellenic aristocracy, though she was reputed to be the first ruler of the dynasty to learn Egyptian.
Possibly the young Queen of Egypt saved her county from absorption into the expanding Roman Empire.
She was famous for her beauty, wit, a character in which “political power and female sexuality were securely combined”. Cleopatra was charming, seductive and at the same time smart, and a quick-witted woman who was fluent in nine languages.
She clearly had personal courage and magnetism, and she wielded sufficient power to be feared by the Romans.
Plutarch wrote of Cleopatra: “Her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her; but converse with her had an irresistible charm, and her presence, combined with the persuasiveness of her discourse and the character which was somehow diffused about her behaviour towards others, had something stimulating about it”.
These accounts influenced later cultural depictions of Cleopatra, which typically present her using her charms to influence the most powerful men in the Western world.
Major works: Queen of Egypt saved her county from absorption into the expanding Roman Empire.
Reign and personal life:
Education: Cleopatra was well-educated and clever and could speak various languages
Reign: 51 BC–12 August 30 BC;
Co-rulers: Ptolemy XIII (51 BC–47 BC);
Ptolemy XIV (47 BC–44 BC);
Caesarion (44 BC–30 BC).
Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt from 51-30 BC, one of the great romantic rulers of all times famous for her beauty, charm and willpower.
She was the last of the Ptolemies, the Macedonian-descended pharaohs who ruled Egypt beginning in 304 B.C.
Her whole life was a sophisticated struggle for power in which she skillfully used her natural intelligence, charm and beauty. She ruled with her two brother-husbands, Ptolemy XIII (r. 51 – 47 BC) and Ptolemy XIV (r. 47 – 44 BC), both of whom she had killed, and with her son, Ptolemy XV, or Caesarion (r. 44 – 30 BC).
When her father died in March 51 BC, 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 12-year-old Ptolemy XIII became joint monarchs.
In 50 BC Cleopatra came into a serious conflict with the powerful Roman troops of Aulus Gabinius and soon lost power. She tried to raise a rebellion around Pelusium, but she was soon forced to flee with her only remaining sister, Arsinoë.
By the time of civil war Rome, in 48 BC, Pompey fled from the forces of Caesar to Alexandria. By the order of fifteen years old Ptolemy, Pompey was beheaded in front of his wife and children. When Caesar arrived in Egypt two days later, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey’s severed head. While Pompey was Caesar’s enemy, he was enraged and Cleopatra saw the opportunity to use his anger toward Ptolemy. When they met Caesar was impressed by Cleopatra’s intelligence and undeniable beauty, and helped Cleopatra to become the sole ruler of Egypt.
Ptolemy XIII died fighting Caesar, who restored Cleopatra to the throne. Cleopatra married another younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, but was effectively sole ruler.
In 46 B.C Caesar invited her to Rome. She was with Caesar in Rome when he was assassinated on 15 March, 44 BC.
In April Cleopatra returned to Alexandria, where Ptolemy XIV had died under mysterious circumstances. Soon she made her little son Caesarion her partner on the throne.
After 37 B.C. she and Antony were in permanent association, and by 32 B.C., when Rome declared war on Cleopatra, the association was seen as a threat to the Roman empire and to Octavian.
After their defeat in the sea battle at Actium (31 B.C.), Cleopatra and Antony sought peace terms from Octavian, but without success. Alexandria was surrendered in 30 B.C. Thereafter Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide.
Nine months after their first meeting, in 47 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to their baby. He was named Ptolemy Caesar, and nicknamed Caesarion, which means “little Caesar”.
In 41 B.C. she agreed to meet with Mark Anthony at Tarsus in Cilicia and her royal ship was prepared to take her to him. A legend says that Cleopatra dressed as Venus, the Roman goddess of love. She filled her ship with so many rose petals that the Romans knew of her fragrance before they could see her ship. She charmed him and later gave birth to twins, Cleopatra Selene II (Moon) and Alexander Helios (Sun).
Cleopatra hoped to tie him emotionally to her, but Antony left Egypt in the spring of 40. He returned to Rome and married Octavian’s half-sister, Octavia. They had two daughters. In 37 BC he hurried through his military duties and raced back to Cleopatra. He married her in 36 BC and she gave birth to another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. In 31 BC Cleopatra tried to negotiate with Octavian for the recognition of her children as her successors in Egypt. But as his price, Octavian demanded the death of Antony, and Cleopatra refused.
After Antony committed suicide, Cleopatra soon followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC.
Her son Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh, soon was killed on Octavian’s orders.
Dio Cassius spoke about the attractiveness of Cleopatra: “She was a woman of extraordinary beauty and in the prime of her youth, she struck with her charm. She also had the most enchanting voice and the knowledge of how to please everyone.”
In addition to Greek and Egyptian, she knew Hebrew, Ethiopian, Aramaic, Persian and Latin.