What Were Cleopatra's Religious Beliefs?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 5, 2020 11:49:25 AM ET

Cleopatra, the last of the Greek Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, idealized and promoted the traditional Egyptian deities of Osiris, Isis and Horus. She presented herself to her subjects as the reincarnation of Isis, the Egyptian goddess. Her last romantic and political consort, the Roman triumvir, Mark Antony, was similarly deified as a reincarnation of the Egyptian god Osiris.

Following the Greek conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great and beginning with Ptolemy I Soter's dynasty in 323 B.C., the Ptolemaic rulers cultivated an advantageous blending of their own Hellenistic customs with traditional Egyptian religious beliefs. This practice helped to legitimize the new Greek and Macedonian rulers as belonging to the line of succession of previous Egyptian Pharaohs. Cleopatra was, however, the only Ptolemaic ruler to learn the Egyptian language. The Ptolemaic dynasty ended with its defeat by Roman forces in the battle of Actium and Cleopatra's subsequent death by suicide in 30 B.C.