Introduction - CleopatraWhen it comes to ancient Egyptian Pharaohs there is none more famous than the last Pharaoh of this great civilization; Cleopatra. She has been the subject of numerous books, plays, and movies including William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra and the 1963 movie Cleopatra staring Elizabeth Taylor. On this page you will find a list of information that serves as a short biography about this great ruler with a focus on the facts as opposed to the many myths about her. This information includes who Cleopatra was, why she is famous, and how she became the last Egyptian Pharaoh. Whether you are kid writing a history assignment or and adult who wants to learn more about this great ruler you should find the below information interesting.
Click here for a great selection of Amazon.com books about Cleopatra.
Interesting Cleopatra Facts
- Cleopatra's full name was Cleopatra VII Philopator.
- She was born in 69 BC and died on August 12th of 30 BC most likely by committing suicide.
- She is regarded as the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt but in fact her son Caesarion actually followed her as pharaoh. Soon after Cleopatra's death Caesarion was killed by Roman soldiers on orders from Octavian (Augustus Caesar).
- Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. This dynasty ruled ancient Egypt from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC up until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC.
- It is often asked; was Cleopatra really beautiful? Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately there are no surviving sculptures of this great Pharaoh; however the fact that she was able to seduce and persuade two of the most powerful men in Rome to help her, Julius Caesar followed by Mark Antony, might indicate she processed great beauty.
- Octavian (Augustus Caesar) allowed Cleopatra and Mark Antony to be buried together which is believed to be somewhere near Alexandria. However the tomb of Cleopatra has never been found.
Facts about Cleopatra's Rise to Power
- Cleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII, was the pharaoh when she was born.
- Upon her father's death in 51 BC the 18 year old Cleopatra became ruler of Egypt along with her 10 year old brother Ptolemy XIII. Brother and sister married, as was customary, at that time in history.
- The joint monarchy of Cleopatra and her brother (and husband) did not go well and eventually resulted in her exile and her brother becoming sole ruler of Egypt around 48 BC.
- While she was in exile a Roman civil war broke out with Julius Caesar eventually defeating his rival Pompey. Pompey fled to Egypt seeking protection. Instead of protection he was executed on the order of Cleopatra's brother; who hoped this would please Julius Caesar.
- The execution of his military rival Pompey actually enraged Julius Caesar. He seized control of Alexandria which at that time was the capital of Egypt.
- Cleopatra took advantage of the situation and snuck into Caesar's palace where she would meet with him and become his mistress. She became pregnant and in 47 BC gave birth to a son who was named Ptolemy Caesar (nickname Caesarion). This was a huge scandal in ancient Rome because Caesar was already married.
- Julius Caesar would help Cleopatra regain control of ancient Egypt in the struggle her brother Ptolemy XIII would drown in the Nile River after the battle of the Nile.
- Cleopatra once again took control of Egypt. She named her other brother Ptolemy XIV as co-ruler, but she maintained complete control.
Facts about Cleopatra's Downfall and Death
- On March 15th of 44 BC Julius Caesar was assassinated. Cleopatra was in Rome that day and returned to Egypt soon after; no doubt wondering what the future would hold now that the powerful man who helped her regain the throne of Egypt was gone.
- In a Roman Civil War, which was sparked by Caesar’s death, Cleopatra sided with Mark Antony and Octavian who led the Caesarian party. The opposing side, known as the Liberatores, were led by Caesar's killers Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus. Mark Antony and Octavian would prevail in this war.
- Cleopatra and Mark Antony had formed more than a military alliance they became lovers eventually getting married and having several children together.
- After defeating Julius Caesar's assassins Mark Antony and Octavian eventually found themselves fighting each other for control of Rome. Cleopatra sided with Antony.
- In 31 BC the combined forces of Antony and Cleopatra faced Octavian's forces at the great naval battle of Actium. Antony and Cleopatra's navy was destroyed and they were forced to flee back to Egypt.
- It is generally believed that Antony was misinformed that Cleopatra had died and upon hearing the news committed suicide. Which was soon followed by Cleopatra actually killing herself. It is said she had a poisonous cobra bite her. Although there have been suggestions that she drank a poisonous drink or pricked herself with a poisonous needle. There are also theories that Octavian forced her to commit suicide or actually had her killed.
- After his victory Octavian took the title Augustus and became the first Roman Emperor.