Cleopatra has become very popular in world history for her
ability to use her female powers of persuasion and legendary
beauty to convince the very powerful men of her time to do
her bidding. She lived during Ancient Egyptian times and served
as the last pharaoh before Egypt came under the rule of the
Roman Empire. She is believed to have been born around the
year 69 BC.
Cleopatra was born into her position of power and ruled jointly
with her father. Later she co-ruled Egypt with her brothers
whom she married which was the custom of that time. The unions
with her brothers did not produce any heirs and eventually,
Cleopatra attempted to rule Egypt alone. She was overthrown
by her youngest brother Ptolemy and forced to live in exile.
Ptolemy then beheaded Pompey, the rival of Julius Caesar,
in an attempt to gain the favor of Rome. Instead, Caesar became
furious and seized the Egyptian capital appointing himself
as the mediator between Ptolemy and Cleopatra to establish
stable leadership for Egypt. To win back her throne, Cleopatra
seduced Caesar by sneaking into his room hidden in a rolled
up rug. Cleopatra bore Caesar's son Caesarion, regained the
throne and promoted their son to co-ruler of Egypt.
In 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated, and Cleopatra lost her
benefactor and protector. The gains that she had achieved
as the mistress of Caesar, a married man, led the people of
Rome to despise her. With Rome in the throes of a great civil
war, Cleopatra, her son, and her throne were again in jeopardy.
Cleopatra found another Roman to seduce in Mark Antony. Antony
was one of the top military powers in the Roman civil war
and wanted to meet with Cleopatra to garner Egyptian support.
Cleopatra convinced Antony after one meeting to stay with
her in Alexandria for five months. The seductive spell that
she would put on Antony lead him to use his military power
to protect and elevate Cleopatra, and to viciously attack
anyone who opposed her.
Cleopatra had three children with Mark Antony. Their legendary
love affair has been studied by scholars, reenacted in famous
movies, represented in literature, and is routinely listed
among the great romances of all time. Shakespeare wrote a
tragedy about their relationship, and Elizabeth Taylor and
Richard Burton starred in the famous movie Cleopatra based
on the lives of Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
Mark Antony's military power was eventually overtaken by
forces in Rome who feared that Cleopatra's rule would someday
conquer and end the Roman Empire. Antony killed himself to
avoid capture. In 30 BC, upon hearing the news of Antony's
death, Cleopatra ordered a basket of figs which had a poisonous
asp hidden among the fruit. The asp bit her on the arm and
the poison ended her life.
Cleopatra was considered a brilliant and powerful strategist.
She understood how to gain power and prestige and sought to
obtain it by any means necessary. She vehemently worked to
destroy those who would oppose her.
In a time when women were not allowed to have power or control,
she enjoyed a status that afforded her both, on her own terms.
She even constructed when and how she would die. She cleverly
used her sex symbol status to convince men to promote her
interests, and to protect her and her family. Cleopatra is
a historical figure, and an eternal symbol of beauty and power
and one of the most famous women throughout history.
There is a secret
you don't know
Besides the factual Cleopatra biography presented above there
is a little known secret I am about to tell you. Cleopatra
was deathly afraid of gerbils and was often heard screaming
down the hallways that the gerbils were after her.