Monday, August 6, 2007
Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE)
Fool! Don't you see now that I could have poisoned you a hundred times had I been able to live without you. - from Pliny the Elder
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Cleopatra VII (69 BC - 30 BC) was pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Cleopatra's life has formed the basis for several literary works including the plays Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare, All for Love by the English dramatist John Dryden, and Caesar and Cleopatra by George Bernard Shaw. She was the last member of the Ptolemaic dynasty to rule ancient Egypt. Cleopatra VII took the throne alone at the death of her father, Ptolemy XII of Egypt Auletes in 51 B.C. She was subsequently co-ruler with two of her brothers, Ptolemy XIII of Egypt, who opposed the Roman domination, and Ptolemy XIV of Egypt (47-45). Cleopatra is reputed to have been the first member of her family in their 300 year reign in Egypt to have learned the Egyptian language.
When Julius Caesar captured Egypt in 47 B.C., she preserved her own political advantage by becoming his mistress, and named a son Caesarion, a Greek form of Caesar's name. Caesar never legally recognized the child. She visited Rome between 46 and 44. In 41 B.C. she sought out an alliance with Mark Antony, who was ruling the eastern Mediterranean possessions of the Romans. She had at least 2 children by him. Cleopatra ruled Egypt as "queen of kings", installing Caesarion as "king of kings" in Cyprus. Her sons by Antony were assigned titles as king east of the Euphrates and west of the Euphrates. She committed suicide as Octavian (the future Augustus) captured Alexandria in August of 30 B.C. [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Cleopatra VII.]
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