Often known simply as Cleopatra, this ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra VII Philopater, was the last Pharaoh of Egypt, last of the Ptolemy dynasty of Egyptian rulers. She is also known for her relationships to Julius Caesar and to Marc Antony.
Dates: 69 BCE - August 30, 30 BCE
Occupation: Pharaoh of Egypt (ruler)
Also Known as: Cleopatra Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII Philopater; Cleopatra Philadelphus Philopator Philopatris Thea Neotera
Cleopatra VII was the descendant of Macedonians who were established as rulers over Egypt when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 323 BCE.
Much of what we know about Cleopatra was written after her death when it was politically expedient to portray her as a threat to Rome and its stability.
Thus, some of what we know about Cleopatra may have been exaggerated or misrepresented by those sources. Cassius Dio, one of the ancient sources that tell her story, summarizes her story as "She captivated the two greatest Romans of her day, and because of the third she destroyed herself."
During Cleopatra"s early years, her father tried to maintain his failing power in Egypt by bribing powerful Romans. Ptolemy XII was reportedly the son of a concubine instead of a royal wife.
When Ptolemy XII went to Rome in 58 BCE, his wife, Cleopatra VI Tryphaina, and his eldest daughter, Berenice IV, assumed the rulership jointly. When he returned, apparently Cleopatra VI had died, and with the help of Roman forces, Ptolemy XII regained his throne and executed Berenice. Ptolemy then married his son, about 9 years old, to his remaining daughter, Cleopatra, who was by time about eighteen.
Cleopatra apparently attempted to rule alone, or at least not equally with her much-younger brother. In 48 BCE, Cleopatra was pushed out of power by ministers. At the same time, Pompey -- with whom Ptolemy XII had allied himself -- appeared in Egypt, chased by forces of Julius Caesar. Pompey was assassinated by Ptolemy XIII"s supporters.
A sister of Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII declared herself ruler as Arsinoe IV.