Surprising Facts About Cleopatra

Surprising Facts About Cleopatra

Oct 29, 2020Ionut

Who hasn't heard about the one and only Cleopatra? She was known for her beauty and romantic liaisons with some of the most powerful men, but also for her political affairs. Cleopatra spent three decades caring for Egypt however she could, and separating her real-life story from the mythology surrounding her is more difficult than you'd think.

Queen from an Early Age

Without exact proof regarding the history of the life of Cleopatra, there's really no way to know the specific situation surrounding the beginning of the life of the famous young ruler. There is some information about her though, thanks to the Greco-Roman scholar Plutarch, but even so, her life story takes some real effort to be glued together.

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Her Family

She was born around 69 B.C.E. to Ptolemy XII, and it's quite possible that her mother was Ptolemy's half-sister, Cleopatra V Tryphaena. Right after her father died in 51 B.C.E, the throne was taken by the young teenage Cleopatra and her then 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII.

Cast Away

It didn't take long before problems appeared in the royal court. Almost immediately after Cleopatra increased her power and gained more influence to the throne, her brother's advisors pushed her out of Egypt, most likely because they knew she could exert her will better than he could.

Julius Caesar

During the same period that she was making her move towards the Egyptian throne, Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria, and everyone wanted to be on his side. Rather than let her brother charm Caesar, Cleopatra made her way to Alexandria in disguise, apparently wrapped in a carpet, and unveiled herself to Caesar, who became fascinated by the young beauty.

Caesar's Help

Caesar played an important role in reinstating Cleopatra as Egypt's ruler, although she had to share the throne with her 13-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIV, which wasn't what she really wanted. But very shortly after, Cleopatra gave birth to Ptolemy Caesar, better known as "Little Caesar." 

She Was of Greek Descent

It comes as no surprise that Cleopatra had Greek roots. Most rulers of Alexandria were of Greek descent as well. But Cleopatra chose to speak the Egyptian language and follow Egyptian traditions and customs. She also had an artwork of herself made in the traditional Egyptian manner, which portrayed her as "she who loves her country," which might mean that she is one of the first politicians to use patriotism to gain the approval of her people. 

Mark Antony

After Caesar was removed from the throne of Rome in 44 B.C.E., Cleopatra had set her eyes on Mark Antony who was a general that played a major role in transitioning Rome from a republic into the famed Roman Empire. She was still trying to stay on Rome's good side, even after Caesar was out of the picture. 

Supporting Antony

Cleopatra had shown her support for Antony's rule from the beginning. After she sent four Roman legions to assist Antony's bid for the Roman government over Brutus and Cassius, he invited the famous Egyptian ruler to the city of Tarsus to have a meeting and discuss future affairs. 

Spending the Winter Together

What followed next was an incredible time shared with each other. Antony spent the winter of 41–40 B.C.E. in Alexandria living the life. The couple even went as far as forming a partying club called "The Inimitable Livers" during their time together. 

Antony's Departure

Right after Antony's departure from Egypt, Cleopatra gave birth to the twins, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. He went back to Rome to prove his allegiance to Fulvia's family and try to sustain his Roman roots and influence in his land. 

Asking for Help

There is an undeniable fact about Cleopatra's rule. She transformed Egypt into a very prosperous nation. So it comes as no surprise that, in 37 B.C.E, Antony turned to Egypt in order to ask for funds to pay for his ongoing conflict against Parthia in exchange for Cyprus, Crete, Libya, Jericho, and large portions of Syria and Lebanon.

Defeat

During the time that he was raising money in Egypt, Antony and Cleopatra have had another child and named him Ptolemy Philadelphos. Regardless of her help, all the support in the world would apparently not be enough to help in Anthony's conflict against Parthia. 

Octavia's Answer

What followed next could be somewhat expected. The neglected wife, Octavia, began spreading propaganda across Rome that Cleopatra had Antony under her spell and made him abandon his homeland forever for the sake of the Egyptian ruler. 

Taking Action

After all this, it only took two years until Antony was stripped of his titles. And on top of that, Octavia went to war with Cleopatra because of all she did together with Antony. Their actions led two nations to war and a giant conflict was born of their political clash. 

Cleopatra Led a Fleet

Cleopatra was actually in charge of leading several Egyptian ships into the battle alongside Antony’s fleet, but they were really no threat to the Octavian’s navy. The war over really fast, and Cleopatra and Antony saw no other choice but to escape the battle and flee back to Egypt.

The End

Cleopatra and Antony decided to take their own lives in 30 B.C. after the Roman army chased them back toward Alexandria. While Antony's way of doing it is well known, Cleopatra’s method is not so certain and much more debated by everyone. 

A Legend

Cleopatra is undeniably a legend that stood out the test of time when it comes to her life story and her political affairs, as well as the romantic ones. Her achievements are incredible no matter how you look at them, and she is still talked about to this day. 

How many of these facts did you know about Cleopatra and how many surprised you. Do you admire her even more now, or do you feel like her choices weren't maybe the best? Let us know in the comments section and visit our website for more content like this. 

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