Cleopatra is often portrayed as a beautiful Egyptian women who used her own political shrewdness and sexual allure to secure and recover her family’s lost empire. She actually almost succeeded by manipulating two of Rome’s greatest sons, Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.

Aa a young women, she co-inherited the Egyptian throne with her younger brother Ptolemy XIII. She didn’t plan on sharing power and for a short while became sole ruler in Egypt. Eventually she was overthrown and exiled by her brother.

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While she was in exile, Julius Caesar arrived in Egypt in pursuit of Pompey The Great (who was killed by the Egyptians). It is here that Caesar got caught up in the affairs of the Egyptians. Not long after, Cleopatra seduced him and he willingly restored Cleopatra to the throne by defeating all her enemies (Cleopatra first smuggled herself before Caesar rolled up in a laundry bag, not a carpet, according to historian Simon Sebag Montefiore). The two were inseparable and Cleopatra in time had a son with Caesar. Just before Caesar’s death(assassination) in Rome, it was rumored that he was going to make himself ‘king’ and Cleopatra his queen. Unfortunately, a cruel twist of fate intervened and Cleopatra found herself fleeing Rome.

Back in Egypt, Cleopatra worked hard at re-establishing her authority, however before long another man entered the scene.

Mark Anthony, like Caesar before him, got caught up in Cleopatra’s web. She was going to use Anthony to help her restore the splendor of her royal dynasty. Things may have worked out with it wasn’t for Octavian (the future Emperor of Rome, Augustus). Octavian defeat Anthony in the famous Battle of Actium, and rather than live a life vanquished, Anthony committed suicide. Whether or not Cleopatra truly loved Anthony, she too, followed him into the afterlife, rather than kneel before Octavian.

In the end, I guess you have to admire Cleopatra, because she gambled everything on her bid for empire. But it wasn’t enough. Cleopatra killed herself by arousing a cobra to bite her in 30 BCE.

Posted by Robert Horvat

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

3 Comments

  1. This is fantastic! Thank you for this.

    Reply

  2. I didn’t include any women in my Fab Five, either, and I thought about it. After all, as a female, I surely could come up with one! I nearly put in Emily Dickinson purely for her incredible poetry, not for anything about her odd life, but I’d already decided I had to include Oscar Wilde and I didn’t want two writers. I may do a “post of the Emilies” on my own blog–her and Emily Hobhouse, of Boer War significance.

    Reply

  3. Great stuff!
    Have you heard of Christine de Pizan? She has a great story and life 🙂

    Reply

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