Cleopatra VII's main accomplishment in her lifetime was rising to power, returning to power, and seducing two of Rome's greatest leaders in order to keep her kingdom free from Roman control. Her short life is the subject of many literary works, including the movie "Cleopatra," starring Elizabeth Taylor.
When 18-year-old Cleopatra and her 10-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII took the throne, custom mandated that they marry. Ptolemy exiled the queen in 48 B.C. to Syria, where she formed an army and convinced Julius Caesar to side with her and defeat her brother. She gave Caesar a son, which he never acknowledged because he was married at the time.
Following Caesar's assassination, Cleopatra formed another alliance with Mark Antony, who was fighting for control of Rome with Caesar's son. Although they had three boys together, they failed in their opposition to Octavian and both ended up killing themselves in separate incidents in 42 B.C.
Cleopatra's life remains a mystery. Some say she was merely a seductress while others maintain she was an astute politician. The fact that her main goal involved maintaining power at all costs remains closed to debate. She overcame a traitorous brother and a society that did not welcome female rulers to become one of the most famous women in history.