What was Cleopatra VII 's history?

Cleopatra VII was born in 69 BC in Alexandria, which was then the capital of Egypt. Her father was Egypt's pharaoh, Ptolemy XII, nicknamed Auletes or "Flute-Player." Cleopatra's mother was probably Auletes's sister, Cleopatra V Tryphaena. (It was commonplace for members of the Ptolemaic dynasty to marry their siblings.) There was another Cleopatra in the family -- Cleopatra VII's elder sister, Cleopatra VI. Cleopatra VII also had an older sister named Berenice; a younger sister, Arsinoe; and two younger brothers, both called Ptolemy. The family was not truly Egyptian, but Macedonian. They were descended from Ptolemy I, a general of Alexander the Great who became king of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BC. she was a little liar as a kid and enjoyed many personal relation ships with the Roman general Pompey. Berenice was beheaded (her husband was executed, as well). Cleopatra VII was now the pharaoh's oldest child. When her father died in 51 BC, leaving his children in Pompey's care, Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII inherited the throne. Cleopatra was 18 when she became the queen of Egypt. She was far from beautiful, despite her glamorous image today. She is depicted on ancient coins with a long hooked nose and masculine features. Yet she was clearly a very seductive woman. She had an enchantingly musical voice and exuded charisma. She was also highly intelligent. She spoke nine languages (she was the first Ptolemy pharaoh who could actually speak Egyptian!) and proved to be a shrewd politician. In compliance with Egyptian tradition Cleopatra married her brother and co-ruler, Ptolemy XIII, who was about 12 at the time. But it was a marriage of convenience only, and Ptolemy was pharaoh in name only. For three years he remained in the background while Cleopatra ruled alone. Ptolemy's advisors - led by a eunuch named Pothinus - resented Cleopatra's independence and conspired against her. In 48 BC they stripped Cleopatra of her power and she was forced into exile in Syria. Her sister Arsinoe went with her. Determined to regain her throne, Cleopatra amassed an army on Egypt's border. At this time Pompey was vying with Julius Caesar for control of the Roman Empire. After losing the battle of Pharsalos he sailed to Alexandria, pursued by Caesar, to seek Ptolemy's protection. But Ptolemy's advisors thought it would be safer to side with Caesar, and when Pompey arrived he was stabbed to death while the pharaoh watched. Three days later Caesar reached Alexandria. Before he entered the city, Ptolemy's courtiers brought him a gift -- Pompey's head. But Pompey had once been Caesar's friend, and Caesar was appalled by his brutal murder. He marched into the city, seized control of the palace, and began issuing orders. Both Ptolemy and Cleopatra were to dismiss their armies and meet with Caesar, who would settle their dispute. But Cleopatra knew that if she entered Alexandria openly, Ptolemy's henchmen would kill her. So she had herself smuggled to Caesar inside an oriental rug. When the rug was unrolled, Cleopatra tumbled out. It is said that Caesar was bewitched by her charm, and became her lover that very night. When Ptolemy saw Caesar and Cleopatra together the next day, he was furious. He stormed out of the palace, shouting that he had been betrayed. Caesar had Ptolemy arrested, but the pharaoh's army -- led by the eunuch Pothinus and Cleopatra's sister Arsinoe -- laid seige to the palace. In hopes of appeasing the attackers Caesar released Ptolemy XIII, but the Alexandrian War continued for almost six months. It ended when Pothinus was killed in battle and Ptolemy XIII drowned in the Nile while trying to flee. Alexandria surrendered to Caesar, who captured Arsinoe and restored Cleopatra to her throne. Cleopatra then married her brother Ptolemy XIV, who was 11 or 12 years old. Soon after their victory Cleopatra and Caesar enjoyed a leisurely two-month cruise on the Nile. The Roman historian Suetonius wrote that they would have sailed all the way to Ethiopia if Caesar's troops had agreed to follow him. Cleopatra may have become pregnant at this time. She later gave birth to a son, Ptolemy XV, called Caesarion or "Little Caesar." It has been suggested that Caesar wasn't really Caesarion's father -- despite his promiscuity, Caesar had only one other child - but Caesarion strongly resembled Caesar, and Caesar acknowledged Caesarion as his son. After the cruise Caesar returned to Rome, leaving three legions in Egypt to protect Cleopatra. A year later he invited Cleopatra to visit him in Rome. She arrived in the autumn of 46 BC, accompanied by Caesarion and her young brother/husband, Ptolemy XIV. In September Caesar celebrated his war triumphs by parading through the streets of Rome with his prisoners, including Cleopatra's sister Arsinoe. (Caesar spared Arsinoe's life, but later Mark Antony had her killed at Cleopatra's request.) Cleopatra lived in Caesar's villa near Rome for almost two years. Caesar showered her with gifts and titles. He even had a statue of her erected in the temple of Venus Genetrix. His fellow Romans were scandalized by his extra-marital affair (Caesar was married to a woman named Calpurnia). It was rumored that Caesar intended to pass a law allowing him to marry Cleopatra and make their son his heir. It was also rumored that Caesar -- who had accepted a lifetime dictatorship and sat on a golden throne in the Senate - intended to become the king of Rome. On March 15, 44 BC a crowd of conspirators surrounded Caesar at a Senate meeting and stabbed him to death. Knowing that she too was in danger, Cleopatra quickly left Rome with her entourage. Before or immediately after their return to Egypt, Ptolemy XIV died, possibly poisoned at Cleopatra's command. Cleopatra then made Caesarion her co-regent. Caesar's assassination caused anarchy and civil war in Rome. Eventually the empire was divided among three men: Caesar's great-nephew Octavian, who later became the emperor Augustus; Marcus Lepidus; and Marcus Antonius, better known today as Mark Antony. In 42 BC Mark Antony summoned Cleopatra to Tarsus (in modern-day Turkey) to question her about whether she had assisted his enemies. Cleopatra arrived in style on a barge with a gilded stern, purple sails, and silver oars. The boat was sailed by her maids, who were dressed as sea nymphs. Cleopatra herself was dressed as Venus, the goddess of love. She reclined under a gold canopy, fanned by boys in Cupid costumes. Antony, an unsophisticated, pleasure-loving man, was impressed by this blatant display of luxury, as Cleopatra had intended. Cleopatra entertained him on her barge that night, and the next night Antony invited her to supper, hoping to outdo her in magnificence. He failed, but joked about it in his good-natured, vulgar way. Cleopatra didn't seem to mind his tasteless sense of humor - in fact, she joined right in. Like Caesar before him, Antony was enthralled. Forgetting his responsibilities, he accompanied Cleopatra to Alexandria and spent the winter with her there. The Greek writer Plutarch wrote of Cleopatra, "Plato admits four sorts of flattery, but she had a thousand. Were Antony serious or disposed to mirth, she had at any moment some new delight or charm to meet his wishes; at every turn she was upon him, and let him escape her neither by day nor by night. She played at dice with him, drank with him, hunted with him; and when he exercised in arms, she was there to see. At night she would go rambling with him to disturb and torment people at their doors and windows, dressed like a servant-woman, for Antony also went in servant's disguise... However, the Alexandrians in general liked it all well enough, and joined good-humouredly and kindly in his frolic and play." Finally, "rousing himself from sleep, and shaking off the fumes of wine," Antony said goodbye to Cleopatra and returned to his duties as a ruler of the Roman empire. Six months later Cleopatra gave birth to twins, Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios. It was four years before she saw their father again. During that time Antony married Octavian's half-sister, Octavia. They had two daughters, both named Antonia. In 37 BC, while on his way to invade Parthia, Antony enjoyed another rendezvous with Cleopatra. He hurried through his military campaign and raced back to Cleopatra. From then on Alexandria was his home, and Cleopatra was his life. He married her in 36 BC and she gave birth to another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Meanwhile, back in Rome, Octavia remained loyal to her bigamous husband. She decided to visit Antony, and when she reached Athens she received a letter from him saying that he would meet her there. However, Cleopatra was determined to keep Antony away from his other wife. She cried and fainted and starved herself and got her way. Antony cancelled his trip, and Octavia returned home without seeing her husband. The Roman people were disgusted by the way Antony had treated Octavia. They were also angry to hear that Cleopatra and Antony were calling themselves gods (the New Isis and the New Dionysus). Worst of all, in 34 BC Antony made Alexander Helios the king of Armenia, Cleopatra Selene the queen of Cyrenaica and Crete, and Ptolemy Philadelphus the king of Syria. Caesarion was proclaimed the "King of Kings," and Cleopatra was the "Queen of Kings." Outraged, Octavian convinced the Roman Senate to declare war on Egypt. In 31 BC Antony's forces fought the Romans in a sea battle off the coast of Actium, Greece. Cleopatra was there with sixty ships of her own. When she saw that Antony's cumbersome, badly-manned galleys were losing to the Romans' lighter, swifter boats, she fled the scene. Antony abandoned his men to follow her. Although it is possible that they had prearranged their retreat, the Romans saw it as proof that Antony was enslaved by his love of Cleopatra, unable to think or act on his own. For three days Antony sat alone in the prow of Cleopatra's ship, refusing to see or speak to her. They returned to Egypt, where Antony lived alone for a time, brooding, while Cleopatra prepared for an invasion by Rome. When Antony received word that his forces had surrendered at Actium and his allies had gone over to Octavian, he left his solitary home and returned to Cleopatra to party away their final days. Cleopatra began experimenting with poisons to learn which would cause the most painless death. She also built a mausoleum to which she moved all of her gold, silver, emeralds, pearls, ebony, ivory, and other treasure. In 30 BC Octavian reached Alexandria. Mark Antony marched his army out of the city to meet the enemy. He stopped on high ground to watch what he expected would be a naval battle between his fleet and the Roman fleet. Instead he saw his fleet salute the Romans with their oars and join them. At this Antony's cavalry also deserted him. His infantry was soon defeated and Antony returned to the city, shouting that Cleopatra had betrayed him. Terrified that he would harm her, Cleopatra fled to the monument that housed her treasures and locked herself in, ordering her servants to tell Antony she was dead. Believing it, Antony cried out, "Now, Antony, why delay longer? Fate has snatched away your only reason for living."

He went to his room and opened his coat, exclaiming that he would soon be with Cleopatra. He ordered a servant named Eros to kill him, but Eros killed himself instead. "Well done, Eros," Antony said, "you show your master how to do what you didn't have the heart to do yourself." Antony stabbed himself in the stomach and passed out on a couch. When he woke up he begged his servants to put him out of his misery, but they ran away. At last Cleopatra's secretary came and told him Cleopatra wanted to see him.

Overjoyed to hear Cleopatra was alive, Antony had himself carried to her mausoleum. Cleopatra was afraid to open the door because of the approach of Octavian's army, but she and her two serving women let down ropes from a window and pulled him up. Distraught, Cleopatra laid Antony on her bed and beat her breasts, calling him her lord, husband and emperor. Antony told her not to pity him, but to remember his past happiness. Then he died. When Octavian and his men reached her monument Cleopatra refused to let them in. She negotiated with them through the barred door, demanding that her kingdom be given to her children. Octavian ordered one man to keep her talking while others set up ladders and climbed through the window. When Cleopatra saw the men she pulled out a dagger and tried to stab herself, but she was disarmed and taken prisoner. Her children were also taken prisoner and were treated well. Octavian allowed Cleopatra to arrange Antony's funeral. She buried him with royal splendor. After the funeral she took to her bed, sick with grief. She wanted to kill herself, but Octavian kept her under close guard. One day he visited her and she flung herself at his feet, nearly naked, and told him she wanted to live. Octavian was lulled into a false sense of security. Cleopatra was determined to die - perhaps because she had lost Mark Antony, perhaps because she knew Octavian intended to humiliate her, as her sister Arsinoe had been humiliated, by marching her through Rome in chains. With Octavian's permission she visited Antony's tomb. Then she returned to her mausoleum, took a bath, and ordered a feast. While the meal was being prepared a man arrived at her monument with a basket of figs. The guards checked the basket and found nothing suspicious, so they allowed the man to deliver it to Cleopatra. After she had eaten, Cleopatra wrote a letter, sealed it, and sent it to Octavian. He opened it and found Cleopatra's plea that he would allow her to be buried in Antony's tomb. Alarmed, Octavian sent messengers to alert her guards that Cleopatra planned to commit suicide. But it was too late. They found the 39-year old queen dead on her golden bed, with her maid Iras dying at her feet. Her other maid, Charmion, was weakly adjusting Cleopatra's crown. "Was this well done of your lady, Charmion?" one of the guards demanded. "Extremely well," said Charmion, "as became the descendent of so many kings." And she too fell over dead. Two pricks were found on Cleopatra's arm, and it was believed that she had allowed herself to be bitten by an asp (a kind of poisonous snake) that was smuggled in with the figs. As she had wished, she was buried beside Antony. Cleopatra was the last pharaoh; after her death Egypt became a Roman province. Because Caesarion was Julius Caesar's son and might pose a threat to Octavian's power, Octavian had the boy strangled by his tutor. Cleopatra's other children were sent to Rome to be raised by Octavia. Cleopatra Selene married King Juba II of Mauretania and had two children, Ptolemy and Drusilla. No one knows what happened to Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus.