Cleopatra VII by shannen hartley

Geography and topography

Cleopatra was a daughter of Ptolemy XII (Auletes). Her mother was believed to be Cleopatra V Tryphaena. Cleopatra VII was born in Egypt 70 or 69 B.C, growing up in the palace of Alexandria. She was descended from a lineage of Greek kings and queens who had ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years. By the time of Cleopatra’s rise to power, the state of Egypt was crumbling around her due to outside pressures from Rome, loss of lands, and famine at home.

Background and rise to prominence

At the age of 18 Cleopatra ascended to the throne with her younger brother Ptolemy XIII. The first three years of their reign were difficult due to economic failures, famine, deficient floods of the Nile, and political conflicts. Cleopatra was married to her young brother, but she quickly made it clear that she had no intention of sharing power with him. Cleopatra ruled alone until her brother’s adviser's led by Pothinus began conspiring against her. In 48 B.C. they removed Cleopatra from power and she was forced into exile in Syria. Later she raised an army of mercenaries and returned the following year to face her brother’s forces at Pelusium.

Caesar and Cleopatra

After the Roman general Pompey was murdered, Ptolemy XIII welcomed the arrival of Pompey’s rival, Julius Caesar, to Alexandria. In order to help her cause, Cleopatra sought Caesar’s support, reportedly smuggling herself into the royal palace to plead her case with him. The relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra grew from their mutual longing for power and money. Caesar wanted the riches found in Cleopatra's court, while she longed for power in Rome. Contrary to legend, Caesar did not stay long in Egypt with Cleopatra. The relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra grew for their mutual longing for power and money. However Caesar did not stay long in Egypt with Cleopatra

Mark Antony and Cleopatra

After Caesar's assassination, Cleopatra set her sights on the dashing Roman general Marc Antony. The two began an affair, resulting in twins in 40 B.C. and appointed his new wife ruler of Egypt, Cyprus, Crete, and Cyria. The first meeting after Julius Caesar’s death proved a luxurious one. There were scented flowers in Cleopatra’s barge, where she dressed like a Roman goddess. After losing a major battle at sea, Antony and Cleopatra were forced to flee to Egypt in 31 B.C. In desperation, Cleopatra spread rumors of her own suicide. Antony, thinking his lover already dead, stabbed himself with a sword but was then brought to die in Cleopatra’s arms. Cleopatra was captured but managed to kill herself via a poisonous snakebite.


In the centuries following her death, Cleopatra and her life have captivated historians, storytellers, and the general public. She has been the inspiration for Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra (1607). Her story resonates because she was such a huge icon in a male dominated society. Cleopatra held the country together and proved to be as powerful as any other male leader.

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