History of Cleopatra

May 11, 2010

History of Cleopatra


Queen Cleopatra of Egypt is the most well known of all the ancient egyptian queens. Cleopatra was born in Alexandria in 69 B.C. during the reign of the Ptolemy family to Ptolemy XII. Cleopatra appears to have been a popular name in the family, as her mother bore the name as well as an older sister, making the new daughter Cleopatra the Seventh, although she is rarely referred to as such. Cleopatra and her family were not Egyptian, but rather Macedonian, descended through a general of Alexander the Great. Cleopatra would become the first ruler of her family who could actually speak the Egyptian language.
           

Queen Cleopatra of Egypt married her then 12 year old brother. The marriage was not truly legitimate, however and considering the young age of her new husband and co-inheritor of the throne, Cleopatra rule Egypt independently and as she wished. This lasted for only three short years before Cleopatra received the same fate as her father and was exiled, along with another younger sister. Her 15 year old brother and husband remained to rule Egypt. Cleopatra escaped to Syria, however she did not intend to give up without a fight.

The events that soon followed are quite legendary. Cleopatra's brother, Ptolemy, became involved with a bitter war between Julius Caesar, and a former friend, Pompey. Ptolemy took sides with Caesar and had Pompey killed, hoping to curry favor with the Roman leader. The plan backfired on him. Julius Caesar was so enraged by the murder of Pompey; he immediately took control of the Egyptian palace and ordered Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and Ptolemy to present themselves to him.

The history of Cleopatra is one that has been the subject of novels and movies and is filled with deception, intrigue and romance. The historical biography of Cleopatra suggests she obtained the throne of Egypt through some rather violent means. When her father was briefly exiled following a rebellion, an older sister took the throne. Following their father's return and reclaim of the throne, the sister was put to death. The second of the three women in the family to carry the same name, Cleopatra VI, died around the same time as well; although the cause remains a mystery. This left Cleopatra the Seventh as the oldest child in her family, with a brother who was several years younger. About four years later, their father died and Cleopatra took control of the throne. She was only about 17 years old at the time.

Queen Cleopatra

Cleopatra on the terraces of Philae

Queen Cleopatra had been encamped just on the other side of the Egyptian and Syrian border. When she received the news that she was to enter Egypt and report to Caesar, she astutely realized she would be easy prey for supporters of her brother's regime. In a scene that has been replayed in countless movies, Cleopatra allowed herself to be smuggled into Egypt in a rug. The affair between Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and Caesar is thought to have begun when she was presented to him, wrapped in the rug. For more than 3 years the couple enjoyed a scandalous affair and Cleopatra gave birth to a son. Following the birth of the child, she joined Julius Caesar in Rome, but quickly departed when he was killed, fearing for her own life.

Absolute chaos ensued in the Roman Empire following the assassination. One of the three men poised to take the throne of Rome, Mark Anthony ordered Cleopatra back to Rome for questioning. Once again displaying her political savvy and intelligence, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt made plans to seduce Mark Anthony. She donned the garb of Venus, the Goddess of Love and was completely successful in her attempt to seduce her would be inquisitor. Of all the costumes Egyptian Cleopatra has been portrayed in, this is the most famous. The full costume of Cleopatra, dressed as Venus, is vividly remembered when Elizabeth Taylor wore a reproduction in her famous portrayal of the queen. The film was so successful in memorializing the queen and her seductive costume, that historical Cleopatra costumes have remained popular ever since.

The queens of Egypt, for the most part, have been relegated to less fame behind their regal husbands, however, many have quite interesting histories in their own right.

The queens of Egypt include a woman who dressed as a man, another who is still famed today for her beauty and many who stand out in the history of Egypt for their unique contributions.

Cleopatra, the most famous queen of Egypt, has become a legend. Queen Cleopatra of Egypt is well regarded as holding the title of the last pharaoh of Egypt, before the land fell into the hands of the aggressive Roman Empire. Like some of the other queens of Egypt, she inherited the throne at the death of her father, when she was only 18 years old, along with her brother, younger than the new queen by six years. Like many other queens of Egypt, Cleopatra married her brother, however it is believed this marriage was only a salute to Egyptian tradition. Cleopatra immediately took hold of the throne and proceeded to lead the nation on her own. One of the more interesting facts about Cleopatra is that she was the first ruler of her dynasty, consisting of the Ptolemy family, to actually be able to speak the Egyptian language, along with eight others. She was known to be extremely intelligent and cunning. The end for Cleopatra came when supporters of her younger brother and husband decided she was far too independent and exiled her to Syria. It was through her attempts to regain control of the throne that she met both Julius Ceasar and Mark Anthony, both of whom became her lovers.

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