10 Things to Know About Cleopatra

Cleopatra was a very influential figure.
Cleopatra was a very influential figure.

Cleopatra is known as a Hellenistic ruler of Egypt. The following are ten reasons she is still spoken of today.

1.    Last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, due to her life, and her liaisons with Caesar and Mark Anthony, and the fact that she had children with them, the West and East were aligned.

2.    Pharaoh that ended an era.

Cleopatra was the Pharaoh who was the last rules of the Hellenistic Era. Her rule marked the beginning of the Roman Era in the eastern Mediterranean.

3.    Relations with Gaius Julius Caesar

One of the reasons she was so well known is that Cleopatra became a mistress of Julius Caesar and had Caesars’ son. This son co-ruled with Cleopatra until after Cleopatra’s death. Their association caused political conflict, and caused a shift in political loyalties that would change the face of history and the era of pharaohs who ruled Egypt.

4.    Securing the Throne

Cleopatra successfully secured the throne with the help of Caesar who once planned to annex Egypt, but instead aligned with Cleopatra and supported her during a short civil war. The person standing in the way of Cleopatra taking the throne was Ptolemy XIII, was drowned in the Nile.  Cleopatra assumed her place as pharaoh and her younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, became the new co-ruler. Her securing of the throne was wreaking with scandal and subterfuge.

5.    A Greek Pharaoh

When Alexander the Great ruled, over 300 years before Cleopatra’s time Greek speaking aristocracy took over the rule of Egypt. Although Cleopatra was an Egyptian pharaoh, her main language was Greek, but she was the first in those 300 years to have learned the Egyptian language, and adopt Egyptian beliefs and deities. In other words, being a Greek pharaoh was not new, but being a Greek pharaoh that embraced Egypt was.

6.    A Great Beauty

One of the big things Cleopatra is remembered for is her great beauty.  Cleopatra was a woman of great beauty who used that beauty to help secure her authority, and make political alliances, which can be seen by her personal associations with several of the world’s most powerful men at the time.  She was the kind of woman who used what she was given to get what she wanted. Her sexual appeal, while not her only benefit, was a huge advantage to her while she secured the throne.

7.    Relations with Mark Anthony

Cleopatra was an influential figure, and there was much question about where her loyalties were. In 42 BC, Mark Antony summoned Cleopatra to meet with him in order to answer questions about where her loyalties were. Cleopatra impressed Anthony, and they had children together–twins, a boy and a girl. Four years later the two again came into contact, and this time they married. They then had another child, a son named, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Mark Anthony was a well known ruler, and her ties to him alone give her a place in history.

8.    The Suicide of Cleopatra

One of the reasons that Cleopatra is so famous is because of her death. According to ancient sources, Cleopatra committed suicide. It is said that Cleopatra poisoned herself by allowing an asp to bite her in the arm. Cleopatra was later found dead, with her handmaidens Iras and Charmion dying at her feet.  This picture of death had been depicted time and again, and there are several valuable pieces of art that depict the scene of Cleopatra’s last moments alone with her handmaids. This art has perpetuated her reputation and her story.

9.    After Cleopatra

After Cleopatra died there was a huge struggle for power of Egypt, which puts her in the limelight, despite the fact that she was no longer alive. Cleopatra’s son by Caesar, Caesarion, was proclaimed pharaoh by the Egyptians following Cleopatra’s death. However, Octavian had already won claim to the throne. So, Caesarion was captured and executed.  This act ended the line of Egyptian pharaohs, and started a new era.

10.    Ancestry and Inbreeding

Another reason that Cleopatra was famous is that there was a high degree of inbreeding among the family line and ancestry of Cleopatra, while this alone was not rare, Cleopatra’s propensity for powerful men made her exploits more interesting.

Learn more with these Cleopatra websites.

Cite This Page

"10 Things to Know About Cleopatra." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 26 Feb. 2009. Web. 27 Aug. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/go/1150/cleopatra/ >.

Cleopatra: A Life
Cleopatra: A Life
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