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Cleopatra


Cleopatra VII Philopator   August 12, 30 BC), known to history as Cleopatra,[2][3] was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. She was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Greek[4][5][6][7][8][9] origin that ruled Ptolemaic Egypt after Alexander the Great's death during the Hellenistic period. The Ptolemies, throughout their dynasty, spoke Greek[10] and refused to speak Egyptian, which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian languages were used on official court documents such as the Rosetta Stone.[11] By contrast, Cleopatra did learn to speak Egyptian[12] and represented herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian goddess, Isis.
 
Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name. After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus (her unions with her brothers had produced no children). After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC.[13] She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh by his supporters but soon killed on Octavian's orders. Egypt became the Roman province of Aegyptus.
 
To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture. Her legacy survives in numerous works of art and the many dramatizations of her story in literature and other media, including William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, Jules Massenet's opera Cléopâtre and the 1963 film Cleopatra. In most depictions, Cleopatra is portrayed as a great beauty, and her successive conquests of the world's most powerful men are taken as proof of her aesthetic and sexual appeal. The identity of Cleopatra's mother is unknown, but she is generally believed to be Cleopatra V Tryphaena of Egypt, the sister or cousin and wife of Ptolemy XII Auletes, or possibly another Ptolemaic family member who was the daughter of Ptolemy X and Cleopatra Berenice III Philopator if Cleopatra V was not the daughter of Ptolemy X and Berenice III.[14] Cleopatra's father Auletes was a direct descendant of Alexander the Great's general, Ptolemy I Soter, son of Arsinoe and Lagus, both of Macedon.
 
Centralization of power and corruption led to uprisings in and the losses of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, making Ptolemy XII's reign one of the most calamitous of the dynasty. When Ptolemy went to Rome with Cleopatra, Cleopatra VI Tryphaena seized the crown but died shortly afterwards in suspicious circumstances. It is believed, though not proven by historical sources, that Berenice IV poisoned her so she could assume sole rulership. Regardless of the cause, she did until Ptolemy Auletes returned in 55 BC, with Roman support, capturing Alexandria aided by Roman general Aulus Gabinius. Berenice was imprisoned and executed shortly afterwards, her head allegedly being sent to the royal court on the decree of her father, the king. Cleopatra was now, at age 14, put as joint regent and deputy of her father, although her power was likely to have been severely limited.
 
Ptolemy XII died in March 51 BC, thus by his will making the 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 10-year-old Ptolemy XIII joint monarchs. The first three years of their reign were difficult, due to economic failures, famine, deficient floods of the Nile, and political conflicts. Although Cleopatra was married to her young brother, she quickly made it clear that she had no intention of sharing power with him. In August 51 BC, relations between Cleopatra and Ptolemy completely broke down. Cleopatra dropped Ptolemy's name from official documents and her face appeared alone on coins, which went against Ptolemaic tradition of female rulers being subordinate to male co-rulers. In 50 BC Cleopatra came into a serious conflict with the Gabiniani, powerful Roman troops of Aulus Gabinius who had left them in Egypt to protect Ptolemy XII after his restoration to the throne in 55 BC.
 
The Gabiniani killed the sons of the Roman governor of Syria, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, when they came to ask for the assistance of the Gabiniani for their father against the Parthians. Cleopatra handed the murderers over in chains to Bibulus, whereupon the Gabiniani turned into bitter enemies of the queen.[15] This conflict was one of the main causes of Cleopatra's fall from power shortly afterward. The sole reign of Cleopatra was finally ended by a cabal of courtiers, led by the eunuch Pothinus, in connection with a half-Greek general, Achillas, and Theodotus of Chios. Circa 48 BC, Cleopatra's younger brother Ptolemy XIII became sole ruler.[16]She tried to raise a rebellion around Pelusium, but was soon forced to flee with her only remaining sister, Arsinoë.[17]

Relations with Rome

Assassination of Pompey

While Cleopatra was in exile, Pompey became embroiled in the Roman civil war. After his defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus, in the autumn of 48 BC, Pompey fled from the forces of Caesar to Alexandria, seeking sanctuary. Ptolemy, only thirteen years old at that time, had set up a throne for himself on the harbour, from where he watched as on September 28, 48 BC, Pompey was murdered by one of his former officers, now in Ptolemaic service. He was beheaded in front of his wife and children, who were on the ship from which he had just disembarked. Ptolemy is thought to have ordered the death to ingratiate himself with Caesar, thus becoming an ally of Rome, to which Egypt was in debt at the time, though this act proved a miscalculation on Ptolemy's part. When Caesar arrived in Egypt two days later, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey's severed head; Caesar was enraged. Although he was Caesar's political enemy, Pompey was a Roman consul and the widower of Caesar's only legitimate daughter, Julia, who died in childbirth. Caesar seized the Egyptian capital and imposed himself as arbiter between the rival claims of Ptolemy and Cleopatra
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