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Cleopatra VII Philopator
Bust o Cleopatra VII, Altes Museum, Berlin
Ptolemaic Queen o Egyp
Ring51–30 BC
PredecessorPtolemy XII Auletes
Co-rulersPtolemy XII Auletes
Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator
Ptolemy XIV
Ptolemy XV Caesarion
Born69 BC
Alexandria, Egyp
Dee'd12 August 30 BC (agit 38–39)
Alexandria, Egyp
SpousePtolemy XIII Theos Philopator
Ptolemy XIV
Mark Antony
IssueCaesarion, Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar
Alexander Helios
Cleopatra Selene, Queen o Mauretanie
Ptolemy XVI Philadelphus
Full name
Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator
HoosePtolemaic Dynasty
FaitherPtolemy XII Auletes
MitherCleopatra V o Egyp (presumably)

Cleopatra VII Philopator (in Greek, Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ; (Late 69 BC – August 12, 30 BC), kent tae history as Cleopatra,[1][2] wis last the pharaoh o Auncient Egyp.

She wis a member o the Ptolemaic dynasty o Ancient Egyp, an therefore wis a descendant o ane o Alexander the Great's generals who haed seisit control ower Egyp efter Alexander's daith. Maist Ptolemeis spoke Greek an refused tae learn Egyptian, which is the raison that Greek as well as Egyptian leids wur uised on offeecial court documents lik the Rosetta Stane. Bi contrast, Cleopatra learned Egyptian an representit hersel as the reincarnation o an Egyptian Goddess.

Cleopatra oreeginally ruled jointly wi her faither Ptolemy XII Auletes an later wi her brithers, Ptolemy XIII an Ptolemy XIV, whom she marriet as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummatit a liaison wi Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevatit her son wi Caesar, Caesarion, tae co-ruler in name.

Efter Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned wi Mark Antony in opposition tae Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus (later kent as Augustus). Wi Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II an Alexander Helios, an anither son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Her unions wi her brithers produced nae childer. Efter losin the Battle o Actium tae Octavian's forces, Antony committit suicide. Cleopatra follaed suit, accordin tae tradeetion killin hersel bi means o an asp bite on 12 August 30 BC. She wis briefly ootlived bi Caesarion, who wis declared pharaoh, but he wis suin killed on Octavian's orders. Egyp became the Roman province o Aegyptus.

Tho Cleopatra bore the auncient Egyptian title o pharaoh, the Ptolemaic dynasty wis Hellenistic, haein been foundit 300 years afore bi Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general o Alexander the Great. As sic, Cleopatra's leid wis the Greek spoken bi the Hellenic aristocracy, tho she wis reputit tae be the first ruler o the dynasty tae learn Egyptian. She an' a' adoptit common Egyptian beliefs an deities. Her patron deity wis Isis, an sicweys, durin her reign, it wis believed that she wis the re-incarnation an embodiment o the goddess. Her daith merked the end o the Ptolemaic Kinrick an Hellenistic period an the beginnin o the Roman era in the eastren Mediterranean.

Tae this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Wastren cultur. Her legacy survives in numerous wirks o airt an the mony dramatizations o her story in literature an ither media, includin William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, Jules Massenet's opera Cléopâtre an the 1963 film Cleopatra. In maist depictions, Cleopatra is put forrit as a great beauty an her successive conquests o the warld's maist pouerful men ar taken tae be proof o her aesthetic an sexual appeal. In his Pensées, philosopher Blaise Pascal contends that Cleopatra's classically bonnie profile changed warld history: "Cleopatra's nose, haed it been shorter, the whole face o the warld woud hae been chyngit."

Biography[eedit | eedit soorce]

Accession tae the throne[eedit | eedit soorce]

The identity of Cleopatra's mither is unkent, but she is generally believed tae be Cleopatra V Tryphaena of Egypt, the sister or cousin and wife of Ptolemy XII, or possibly anither Ptolemaic faimily member who wis the dochter of Ptolemy X and Cleopatra Berenice III Philopator if Cleopatra V wis nae the dochter of Ptolemy X an Berenice III. Cleopatra's faither Auletes wis a direct descendant of Alexander the Great's general, Ptolemy I Soter, son of Arsinoe and Lacus, baith of Macedon.

Centralization o pouer an corruption led the uprisings in an the losses of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, makin Ptolemy's reign the end o the maist calamitous o the dynasty. When Ptolemy went tae Roum wi Cleopatra, Cleopatra VI Tryphaena seized the croun but died shortly afterwards in suspicious circumstances. It is believed, tho nae proven bi historical soorces, that Berenice IV pushiont her sae she coud acome the sole ruler. Regairdless o the cause, she did till Ptolemy Auletes returned in 55 BC, wi Roman support, capturing Alexandria aided bi Roman general Aulus Gabinius. Berenice wis imprisoned and executit shortly efterwards, her aid allegedly bein sent tae the royal court on the decree of her faither, the keeng. Cleopatra wis nou, at age 14, put as jynt regent and deputy tae her faither, awtho her power wis likely tae hae been severely leemitit.

Ptolemy XII died on Mairch 51 BC, sicweys bi his will makin the 18-year-auld Cleopatra and her brither, the 10-year-auld Ptolemy XIII jynt monarchs. The first three years of thair reign war difficult, due tae economic difficulties, faimin, deficient floods o the Nile, and poleetical conflicts. Awtho Cleopatra wis mairit tae her young brither, she quickly made it clear that she haed no intention of sharin power with0 him.

In August 51 BC, relations atween Cleopatra and Ptolemy completely broke doun. Cleopatra dropped Ptolemy's name frae offeecial documents and her face appeared alone on coins, which went against Ptolemaic tradeetion of female rulers bein subordinate tae male co-rulers. In 50 BC Cleopatra came intae a serious conflict wi the Gabiniani, powerful Roman troops of Aulus Gabinius who haed left them in Egypt tae pertect Ptolemy XII efter his restoration tae the throne in 55 BC. This conflict wis ane o the main causes of Cleopatra's faw frae power shortly afterward.

The sole reign of Cleopatra wis finally ended bi a cabal of courtiers, lead bi the eunuch Pothinus, removing Cleopatra frae power and makin Ptolemy sole ruler in circa 48 BC (or possibly earlier, as a decree exists frae 51 BC wi Ptolemy's name alone). She tried tae stairt a rebellion aroond Pelusium, but she wis suin forced tae flee wi her anly remainin sister, Arsinoë.

Relations wi Rome[eedit | eedit soorce]

Assassination o Pompey[eedit | eedit soorce]

While Cleopatra wis in exile, Pompey became embroiled in the Roman ceevil war. In the hairst o 48 BC, Pompey fled frae the forces o Caesar tae Alexandria, seekin sanctuary. Ptolemy, anerlie thirteen year auld at that time, haed set up a throne for hissel on the harbour, frae whaur he watcht as on September 28, 48 BC, Pompey wis murthert bi ane o his umwhile officers, nou in Ptolemaic service. He wis beheidit in front o his wife an childer, who wur on the ship frae which he haed juist disembarked. Ptolemy is thocht tae hae ordered the daith tae ingratiate hissel wi Caesar, sicweys becomin an ally o Roum, tae which Egyp wis in debt at the time, tho this act proved a miscalculation on Ptolemy's pairt. When Caesar arrived in Egyp twa days later, Ptolemy presentit him wi Pompey's severed heid; Caesar wis enraged. Awtho he wis Caesar's poleetical enemy, Pompey wis a Roman consul an the widower o Caesar's anerlie legitimate dochter, Julia (who dee'd in childbirth wi Pompey's son). Caesar seized the Egyptian caipital an imposed hissel as airbiter atween the rival claims o Ptolemy an Cleopatra.

Relationship wi Julius Caesar[eedit | eedit soorce]

Cleopatra an Julius Caesar. Paintin bi Jean-Léon Gérôme

Eager tae tak advantage o Julius Caesar's anger toward Ptolemy, Cleopatra haed hersel smuggled secretly intae the palace tae meet wi Caesar. Ane legend claims she entered past Ptolemy’s guards rolled up in a cairpet. She became Caesar’s mistress, an nine month efter thair first meetin, in 47 BC, Cleopatra gae birth tae thair son, Ptolemy Caesar, nicknamed Caesarion, which means "little Caesar".

At this pynt Caesar abandoned his plans tae annex Egyp, instead backin Cleopatra's claim tae the throne. Efter a war lastin sax month atween the pairty o Ptolemy XIII an the Roman airmy o Caesar, Ptolemy XIII wis drouned in the Nile an Caesar restored Cleopatra tae her throne, wi anither younger brither Ptolemy XIV as her new co-ruler.

Cleopatra VII an her son Caesarion at the Temple o Dendera

Awtho Cleopatra wis 21 year auld whan thay met an Caesar wis 52, thay became lovers durin Caesar’s stay in Egyp atween 48 BC an 47 BC. Cleopatra claimed Caesar wis the faither o her son an wished him tae name the boy his heir, but Caesar refused, chuisin his grandnephew Octavian instead. Durin this relationship, it wis an aa rumored that Cleopatra introduced Caesar tae her astronomer Sosigenes o Alexandria, who first proposed the idea o leap days an leap years.

Cleopatra, Ptolemy XIV an Caesarion visitit Roum in simmer 46 BC, whaur the Egyptian queen residit in ane o Caesar's kintra hooses. The relationship atween Cleopatra an Caesar wis obvious tae the Roman fowk an it wis a scandal, acause the Roman dictator wis awready marriet tae Calpurnia Pisonis. But Caesar even erectit a gowden statue o Cleopatra representit as Isis in the temple o Venus Genetrix (the meethical ancestress o Caesar's faimily), which wis situatit at the Forum Julium. The Roman orator Cicero said in his preserved letters that he hatit the foreign queen. Cleopatra an her entourage wur in Roum whan Caesar wis assassinatit on 15 Mairch 44 BC. She returned wi her relatives tae Egyp. When Ptolemy XIV dee'd – allegedly pushiont bi his aulder sister – Cleopatra made Caesarion her co-regent an successor an gae him the epithets Theos Philopator Philometor (= Faither- an mitherlovin God).

Cleopatra in the Roman Ceevil War[eedit | eedit soorce]

In the Roman ceevil war atween the Caesarian pairty, led bi Mark Antony an Octavian, an the pairty o the assassins o Caesar, led bi Marcus Junius Brutus an Gaius Cassius Longinus, Cleopatra sidit wi the Caesarian pairty acause o her past. Brutus an Cassius left Italy an sailed tae the East o the Roman Empire, whaur thay conquered lairge auries an established military bases. At the beginnin o 43 BC, Cleopatra formed an alliance wi the leader o the Caesarian pairty in the East, Publius Cornelius Dolabella, who recognised Caesarion as her co-ruler. But suin, Dolabella wis encircled in Laodicea an committit suicide (Julie 43 BC).

Cassius then wantit tae invade Egyp tae seize the treasures o that kintra an tae punish the queen for her refusal tae send him supplies an her support for Dolabella. Egyp seemed an easy target acause the land did no hae strang land forces an thare wis faimin an an epidemic. Cassius an aa wantit tae prevent Cleopatra frae bringin reinforcements for Antony an Octavian. But he coud no execute an invasion o Egyp, acause at the end o 43 BC Brutus summoned him back tae Smyrna. Cassius tried tae blockade Cleopatra’s route tae the Caesarians. For this purpose Lucius Staius Murcus moved wi 60 ships an a legion o elite troops intae poseetion at Cape Matapan in the sooth o the Peloponnese. Nivertheless, Cleopatra sailed wi her fleet frae Alexandria tae the wast alang the Libian coast tae jyne the Caesarian leaders, but she wis forced tae return tae Egyp acause her ships wur damaged bi a violent storm an she became ill. Staius Murcus learned o the queen's misfortune an saw wreckage frae her ships on the coast o Greece. He then sailed wi his ships intae the Adriatic Sea.

Cleopatra an Mark Antony[eedit | eedit soorce]

Antony and Cleopatra, bi Lawrence Alma-Tadema
A tetradrachm o Cleopatra VII, Sirie mint
The Death of Cleopatra bi Guido Cagnacci, 1658
The Death of Cleopatra bi Reginald Arthur, 1892

In 41 BC, Mark Antony, ane o the triumvirs who ruled Roum in the pouer vacuum follaein Caesar's daith, sent his intimate friend Quintus Dellius tae Egyp. Dellius haed tae summon Cleopatra tae Tarsus tae meet Antony an answer questions aboot her lealty. Durin the Roman ceevil war she allegedly haed peyed muckle money tae Cassius. It seems that in reality Antony wantit Cleopatra’s promise tae support his intendit war against the Parthians. Cleopatra arrived in great state, an sae charmed Antony that he chuise tae spend the winter o 41 BC–40 BC wi her in Alexandria.

Tae safeguard hersel an Caesarion, she haed Antony order the daith o her sister Arsinoe, who wis livin at the temple o Artemis in Ephesus, which wis unner Roman control. The execution wis carried oot in 41 BC on the steps o the temple, an this violation o temple sanctuary scandalised Roum. Cleopatra haed an aa executit her strategos o Cyprus, Serapion, who haed supportit Cassius against her wishes.

On 25 December 40 BC, Cleopatra gae birth tae twins faithered bi Antony, Alexander Helios an Cleopatra Selene II. Fower years later, Antony visitit Alexandria again en route tae mak war wi the Parthians. He renewed his relationship wi Cleopatra, an frae this pynt on Alexandria wad be his hame. He marriet Cleopatra accordin tae the Egyptian rite (a letter quotit in Suetonius suggests this), awtho he wis at the time marriet tae Octavia Minor, sister o his fellae triumvir Octavian. He an Cleopatra haed anither bairn, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

At the Donations o Alexandria in late 34 BC, follaein Antony's conquest o Armenie, Cleopatra an Caesarion wur crouned co-rulers o Egyp an Cyprus; Alexander Helios wis crouned ruler o Armenie, Media, an Parthie; Cleopatra Selene II wis crouned ruler o Cyrenaica an Libie; an Ptolemy Philadelphus wis crouned ruler o Phoenicie, Sirie, an Cilicie. Cleopatra wis an aa gien the title o "Queen o Keengs" bi Antonius. Her enemies in Roum feared that Cleopatra "wis plannin a war o revenge that wis tae array aw the East against Rome, establish hersel as empress o the warld at Rome, cast juistice frae Capitolium, an inaugurate a new universal kinrick." Caesarion wis no anerlie elevatit haein coregency wi Cleopatra, but an aa proclaimed wi mony titles, includin god, son o god an keeng o keengs, an wis depictit as Horus. Egyptians thocht Cleopatra tae be a reincarnation o the goddess Isis, as she cried hersel Nea Isis.

Relations atween Antony an Octavian, disintegratin for several years, feenally broke doun in 33 BC, an Octavian convinced the Senate tae levy war against Egyp. In 31 BC Antony's forces faced the Romans in a naval action aff the coast o Actium. Cleopatra wis present wi a fleet o her awn. Popular legend states that whan she saw that Antony's poorly equipped an manned ships wur losin tae the Romans' superior vessels, she teuk flicht an that Antony abandoned the battle tae follae her, but nae contemporary evidence states this wis the case. Follaein the Battle o Actium, Octavian invadit Egyp. As he approached Alexandria, Antony's airmies desertit tae Octavian on 1 August 30 BC.

Daith[eedit | eedit soorce]

The auncient soorces, parteecularly the Roman anes, are in general agreement that Cleopatra killed hersel bi inducin an Egyptian cobra tae bite her. The auldest soorce is Strabo, who wis alive at the time o the event, an micht even hae been in Alexandria. He says that thare are twa stories: that she applee'd a toxic ointment, or that she wis bitten bi an asp. Several Roman poets, writin athin ten years o the event, aw mention bites bi twa asps, as daes Florus, a historian, some 150 years later. Velleius, saxty years efter the event, an aa refers tae an asp. Ither authors hae questioned thir historical accoonts, statin that it is possible that Augustus haed her killed.

In 2010, the German historian Christoph Schaefer challenged aw ither theories, declarin that the queen haed actually been pushiont an dee'd frae drinkin a mixture o poisons. Efter studyin historical texts an consultin wi toxicologists, the historian concludit that the asp coud no hae caused a slow an pain-free daith, syne the asp (Egyptian cobra) venom paralyses pairts o the body, stairtin wi the een, afore causin daith. Schaefer an his toxicologist Dietrich Mebs decidit Cleopatra uised a mixture o hemlock, wolfsbane an opium.

Plutarch, writin aboot 130 years efter the event, reports that Octavian succeedit in capturin Cleopatra in her mausoleum efter the daith o Antony. He ordered his freedman Epaphroditus tae guard her tae prevent her frae committin suicide, acause he allegedly wantit tae present her in his triumph. But Cleopatra wis able tae deceive Epaphroditus an kill hersel nivertheless. Plutarch states that she wis foond deid, her handmaiden Iras dyin at her feet, an anither handmaiden, Charmion, adjusting her croun afore she hersel fell. He then goes on tae state that an asp wis concealed in a basket o figs that wis brocht tae her bi a rustic, an, fyndin it efter eatin a few figs, she held oot her airm for it tae bite. Ither stories state that it wis hidden in a vase, an that she poked it wi a spindle till it got angry enough tae bite her on the airm. Feenally, he indicates that in Octavian's triumphal mairch back in Roum, an effigy o Cleopatra that haed an asp clingin tae it wis pairt o the parade.

Suetonius, writin aboot the same time as Plutarch, an aa says Cleopatra dee'd frae an asp bite.

Shakespeare gae us the feenal pairt o the image that haes come doun tae us, Cleopatra clutchin the snake tae her breast. Afore him, it wis generally agreed that she wis bitten on the airm.

Plutarch tells us o the daith o Antony. When his airmies desertit him an jynt wi Octavian, he cried oot that Cleopatra haed betrayed him. She, fearing his wrath, locked hersel in her monument wi anerlie her twa handmaidens an sent messengers tae tell Antony that she wis deid. Believin them, Antony stabbed hissel in the painch wi his swuird, an lay on his couch tae dee. Instead, the bluid flow stopped, an he begged ony an aw tae finish him aff. Anither messenger came frae Cleopatra wi instructions tae bring him tae her, an he, rejoicin that Cleopatra wis still alive, consentit. She wadna open the door, but tossed ropes oot o a windae. Efter Antony wis securely trussed up, she an her handmaidens hauled him up intae the monument. This nearly feenished him aff. Efter draggin him in throu the windae, thay laid him on a couch. Cleopatra tore aff her claes an covered him wi them. She raved an cried, beat her breasts an engaged in sel-mutilation. Antony tauld her tae calm doun, asked for a gless o wine, an dee'd upon finishin it.

The site o thair mausoleum is uncertain, tho it is thocht bi the Egyptian Antiquities Service, tae be in or near the temple o Taposiris Magna soothwast o Alexandria.

Cleopatra's son bi Caesar, Caesarion, wis proclaimed pharaoh bi the Egyptians, efter Alexandria fell tae Octavian. Caesarion wis captured an killed, his fate reportedly sealed whan ane o Octavian's advisers paraphrased Homer: "It is bad tae hae ower mony Caesars." This endit no juist the Hellenistic line o Egyptian pharaohs, but the line o aw Egyptian pharaohs. The three childer o Cleopatra an Antony wur spared an taken back tae Roum whaur thay wur taken care o bi Antony's wife, Octavia Minor. The dochter, Cleopatra Selene, wis marriet throu arrangements o Octavian tae Juba II o Mauretanie.

Character an cultural depictions[eedit | eedit soorce]

Statue o Cleopatra as Egyptian goddess; Basalt, seicont hauf o the first century BC. Hermitage, Saunt Petersburg

Cleopatra wis regardit as a great beauty, even in the auncient warld. In his Life of Antony, Plutarch remarks that "judgin bi the proofs which she haed haed afore this o the effect o her beauty upon Caius Caesar an Gnaeus the son o Pompey, she haed hopes that she wad mair easily bring Antony tae her feet. For Caesar an Pompey haed kent her when she was still a girl an inexperienced in affairs, but she wis goin tae visit Antony at the vera time when weemen hae the maist brilliant beauty". Later in the wirk, housomeivver, Plutarch indicates that "her beauty, as we are tauld, was in itsel no aathegither incomparable, nor such as tae strike those who saw her." Rather, what ultimately made Cleopatra attractive wur her wit, chairm an "sweetness in the tones o her voice."

Cassius Dio an aa spoke o Cleopatra's allure: "For she wis a wumman o surpassin beauty, an at that time, when she wis in the prime o her youth, she wis maist strikin; she an aa possessed a maist chairmin voice an knawledge o hou tae make hersel agreeable tae ivery ane. Being brilliant tae look upon and to listen to, wi the pouer tae subjugate ivery ane, even a love-satit man awready past his prime, she thought that it wad be in keepin wi her role tae meet Caesar, an she reposed in her beauty aw her claims tae the throne."

Thir accoonts influenced later cultural depictions o Cleopatra, which teepically present her uisin her chairms tae influence the maist pouerful men in the Wastren warld.

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. Gill, N.S. "Cleopatra". About.com.[deid airtin]
  2. "Cleopatra VII". History.com.

Freemit airtins[eedit | eedit soorce]

General[eedit | eedit soorce]

Paintins[eedit | eedit soorce]