Queen Cleopatra VII was the last person to rule Ancient Egypt before it was taken over by the Roman Empire. She is supposed to have been very beautiful and is famous for her love affairs with the Roman generals Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Cleopatra was not a true Egyptian; she was a member of the ruling Ptolemaic dynasty. The dynasty had been founded by the Greek warrior Ptolemy, who was one of Alexander the Great’s generals. After Alexander’s death in 323 bc Ptolemy made himself King Ptolemy I of Egypt. By tradition, all the kings of the dynasty were named Ptolemy, and Cleopatra was the daughter of Ptolemy XII. When he died in 51 bc, Cleopatra and her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, became joint rulers of Egypt. In 48 bc Ptolemy XIII forced his sister off the throne and made himself the only ruler.
JULIUS CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA
Cleopatra was saved by the arrival of the Roman general Julius Caesar, who fell in love with her. His soldiers defeated and killed her brother, and Caesar proclaimed Cleopatra to be the sole ruler of Egypt. She later visited him in Rome but she returned to Egypt after he was murdered in 44 bc. At first Cleopatra refused to take sides in the wars that followed Caesar’s death, but in 41 bc she met the Roman general Mark Antony and he too fell in love with her.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
In 35 bc Antony married Cleopatra and they lived in Egypt. In the following year he proclaimed that they were the joint rulers of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. The Romans could not tolerate this and Octavian (who later became Emperor Augustus) declared war on Antony and Cleopatra. After Octavian won the Battle of Actium in 31 bc both Antony and Cleopatra killed themselves. Legend says that Cleopatra died from poison or that she was bitten by an asp—a venomous snake.