Cleopatra was the final ruler of the ancient Ptolemaic dynasty of the Egyptian empire and carried on affairs with both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, both of which helped consolidate her power while causing a succession crisis in Rome. When an army she and Antony raised was defeated by the Romans, she famously committed suicide, allegedly allowing herself to be bitten by a deadly snake.Continue Reading
Cleopatra VII was born into the royal family of Ptolemy and came to power as a teenager, ruling jointly with her two brothers in a regency over Egypt. When her brothers forced her from power, she had herself smuggled into the presence of Julius Caesar in Rome, where she entreated him to restore her authority. In exchange, Cleopatra became Caesar's lover and also promised to repay war debt owed to Rome by the Egyptians. She eventually bore him a son named Caesarion or "Little Caesar."
After being restored to power by the Romans, Cleopatra found herself in the middle of the political crisis following the assassination of Caesar. Joining Mark Antony, she helped to fund his war expeditions to the eastern Roman Empire. Antony, completely seduced by Cleopatra's charms, came to live with her in Alexandria. They had three children together, and Antony even named Caesarion as the rightful heir to be the Roman emperor.
Caesar's Roman-born heir, Octavian, marched on Egypt at the head of a Roman army and defeated a force organized by Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, In the aftermath, Antony chose to fall on his sword. Cleopatra was held under house arrest and elected to kill herself rather than be a spoil of war. According to legend, she did so by allowing herself to be bitten by a poisonous asp.Learn more about Ancient Egypt