96 Facts About Cleopatra VII


Cleopatra VII Philopator was Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from 51 to 30 BC, and its last active ruler.

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In 58 BC, Cleopatra VII presumably accompanied her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, during his exile to Rome after a revolt in Egypt allowed his rival daughter Berenice IV to claim his throne.

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Cleopatra VII traveled to Rome as a client queen in 46 and 44 BC, where she stayed at Caesar's villa.

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Cleopatra VII carried out the execution of Arsinoe at her request, and became increasingly reliant on Cleopatra for both funding and military aid during his invasions of the Parthian Empire and the Kingdom of Armenia.

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When Cleopatra VII learned that Octavian planned to bring her to his Roman triumphal procession, she killed herself by poisoning, contrary to the popular belief that she was bitten by an asp.

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Cleopatra VII's legacy survives in ancient and modern works of art.

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Cleopatra VII's has become a pop culture icon of Egyptomania since the Victorian era, and in modern times, Cleopatra has appeared in the applied and fine arts, burlesque satire, Hollywood films, and brand images for commercial products.

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Cleopatra VII was the name of Alexander the Great's sister, as well as Cleopatra VII Alcyone, wife of Meleager in Greek mythology.

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In contrast, Cleopatra VII could speak multiple languages by adulthood and was the first Ptolemaic ruler to learn the Egyptian language.

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Cleopatra VII was born in early 69 BC to the ruling Ptolemaic pharaoh Ptolemy XII and an unknown mother, presumably Ptolemy XII's wife Cleopatra VI Tryphaena, the mother of Cleopatra's older sister, Berenice IV Epiphaneia.

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Cleopatra VII distinguished himself by preventing Ptolemy XII from massacring the inhabitants of Pelousion, and for rescuing the body of Archelaos, the husband of Berenice IV, after he was killed in battle, ensuring him a proper royal burial.

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Cleopatra VII allowed Gabinius's largely Germanic and Gallic Roman garrison, the Gabiniani, to harass people in the streets of Alexandria and installed his longtime Roman financier Rabirius as his chief financial officer.

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Cleopatra VII faced several pressing issues and emergencies shortly after taking the throne.

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Cleopatra VII sent the Gabiniani culprits to Bibulus as prisoners awaiting his judgment, but he sent them back to Cleopatra VII and chastised her for interfering in their adjudication, which was the prerogative of the Roman Senate.

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Cleopatra VII's had probably married him, but there is no record of this.

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Cleopatra VII seems to have attempted a short-lived alliance with her brother Ptolemy XIV, but by the autumn of 50 BC Ptolemy XIII had the upper hand in their conflict and began signing documents with his name before that of his sister, followed by the establishment of his first regnal date in 49 BC.

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Cleopatra VII's returned with an army, but her advance to Alexandria was blocked by her brother's forces, including some Gabiniani mobilized to fight against her, so she camped outside Pelousion in the eastern Nile Delta.

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Cleopatra VII initially sent emissaries to Caesar, but upon allegedly hearing that Caesar was inclined to having affairs with royal women, she came to Alexandria to see him personally.

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The resulting siege of the palace, with Caesar and Cleopatra VII trapped together inside, lasted into the following year of 47 BC.

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Cleopatra VII left three legions in Egypt, later increased to four, under the command of the freedman Rufio, to secure Cleopatra's tenuous position, but perhaps to keep her activities in check.

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Cleopatra VII received messages from both Gaius Cassius Longinus, one of Caesar's assassins, and Publius Cornelius Dolabella, proconsul of Syria and Caesarian loyalist, requesting military aid.

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Cleopatra VII's decided to write Cassius an excuse that her kingdom faced too many internal problems, while sending the four legions left by Caesar in Egypt to Dolabella.

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Cleopatra VII sailed up the Kydnos River to Tarsos in Thalamegos, hosting Antony and his officers for two nights of lavish banquets on board the ship.

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Cleopatra VII managed to clear her name as a supposed supporter of Cassius, arguing she had really attempted to help Dolabella in Syria, and convinced Antony to have her exiled sister, Arsinoe IV, executed at Ephesus.

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Cleopatra VII had his subordinates, such as Publius Ventidius Bassus, drive the Parthians out of Anatolia and Syria.

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Cleopatra VII carefully chose Antony as her partner for producing further heirs, as he was deemed to be the most powerful Roman figure following Caesar's demise.

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Cleopatra VII provided Antony with 200 ships for his campaign and as payment for her newly acquired territories.

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Cleopatra VII attempted to provide him with a military assignment, but Herod declined and traveled to Rome, where the triumvirs Octavian and Antony named him king of Judea.

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Relations between Antony and Cleopatra VII perhaps soured when he not only married Octavia, but sired her two children, Antonia the Elder in 39 BC and Antonia Minor in 36 BC, and moved his headquarters to Athens.

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Cleopatra VII brought her now three-year-old twins to Antioch, where Antony saw them for the first time and where they probably first received their surnames Helios and Selene as part of Antony and Cleopatra VII's ambitious plans for the future.

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Cleopatra VII's received Ptolemais Akko, a city that was established by Ptolemy II.

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Cleopatra VII's was even given the region surrounding Jericho in Palestine, but she leased this territory back to Herod.

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At the expense of the Nabataean king Malichus I, Cleopatra VII was given a portion of the Nabataean Kingdom around the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea, including Ailana .

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Cleopatra VII's was now followed by Octavia and Livia, whose statues were most likely erected in the Forum of Caesar to rival that of Cleopatra's, erected by Caesar.

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In 36 BC, Cleopatra VII accompanied Antony to the Euphrates in his journey toward invading the Parthian Empire.

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Cleopatra VII's then returned to Egypt, perhaps due to her advanced state of pregnancy.

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Antony desired to avoid the risks involved in returning to Rome, and so he traveled with Cleopatra VII back to Alexandria to see his newborn son.

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Antony received these troops but told Octavia not to stray east of Athens as he and Cleopatra VII traveled together to Antioch, only to suddenly and inexplicably abandon the military campaign and head back to Alexandria.

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Antony then held a military parade in Alexandria as an imitation of a Roman triumph, dressed as Dionysus and riding into the city on a chariot to present the royal prisoners to Cleopatra VII, who was seated on a golden throne above a silver dais.

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Cleopatra VII was said to have brainwashed Mark Antony with witchcraft and sorcery and was as dangerous as Homer's Helen of Troy in destroying civilization.

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Pliny the Elder claims in his Natural History that Cleopatra VII once dissolved a pearl worth tens of millions of sesterces in vinegar just to win a dinner-party bet.

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Antony and Cleopatra VII traveled together to Ephesus in 32 BC, where she provided him with 200 of the 800 naval ships he was able to acquire.

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Publius Canidius Crassus made the counterargument that Cleopatra VII was funding the war effort and was a competent monarch.

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Cleopatra VII refused Antony's requests that she return to Egypt, judging that by blocking Octavian in Greece she could more easily defend Egypt.

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Antony and Cleopatra VII had a larger fleet than Octavian, but the crews of Antony and Cleopatra VII's navy were not all well-trained, some of them perhaps from merchant vessels, whereas Octavian had a fully professional force.

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Antony and Cleopatra VII set up their winter headquarters at Patrai in Greece, and by the spring of 31 BC they had moved to Actium, on the southern side of the Ambracian Gulf.

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Antony and Cleopatra VII lost several skirmishes against Octavian around Actium during the summer of 31 BC, while defections to Octavian's camp continued, including Antony's long-time companion Dellius and the allied kings Amyntas of Galatia and Deiotaros of Paphlagonia.

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Antony followed Cleopatra VII and boarded her ship, identified by its distinctive purple sails, as the two escaped the battle and headed for Tainaron.

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Cleopatra VII's was afraid that news about the outcome of the battle of Actium would lead to a rebellion.

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Cleopatra VII perhaps started to view Antony as a liability by the late summer of 31 BC, when she prepared to leave Egypt to her son Caesarion.

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Cleopatra VII planned to relinquish her throne to him, take her fleet from the Mediterranean into the Red Sea, and then set sail to a foreign port, perhaps in India, where she could spend time recuperating.

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Cleopatra VII had no other option but to stay in Egypt and negotiate with Octavian.

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Separate messages and envoys from Antony and Cleopatra VII were then sent to Octavian, still stationed at Rhodes, although Octavian seems to have replied only to Cleopatra VII.

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Cleopatra VII requested that her children should inherit Egypt and that Antony should be allowed to live in exile in Egypt, offered Octavian money in the future, and immediately sent him lavish gifts.

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Cleopatra VII hid herself in her tomb with her close attendants and sent a message to Antony that she had committed suicide.

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Cleopatra VII was then allowed to embalm and bury Antony within her tomb before she was escorted to the palace.

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When she met with Octavian, Cleopatra VII told him bluntly, "I will not be led in a triumph", according to Livy, a rare recording of her exact words.

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Octavian was said to have been angered by this outcome but had Cleopatra VII buried in royal fashion next to Antony in her tomb.

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Cleopatra VII decided in her last moments to send Caesarion away to Upper Egypt, perhaps with plans to flee to Kushite Nubia, Ethiopia, or India.

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Cleopatra VII's was the chief religious authority in her realm, presiding over religious ceremonies dedicated to the deities of both the Egyptian and Greek polytheistic faiths.

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Cleopatra VII's oversaw the construction of various temples to Egyptian and Greek gods, a synagogue for the Jews in Egypt, and even built the Caesareum of Alexandria, dedicated to the cult worship of her patron and lover Julius Caesar.

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Cleopatra VII was directly involved in the administrative affairs of her domain, tackling crises such as famine by ordering royal granaries to distribute food to the starving populace during a drought at the beginning of her reign.

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Apparent financial troubles led Cleopatra VII to debase her coinage, which included silver and bronze currencies but no gold coins like those of some of her distant Ptolemaic predecessors.

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Cleopatra VII's named her son Ptolemy of Mauretania, in honor of their Ptolemaic dynastic heritage.

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Cleopatra VII is barely mentioned in, the memoirs of an unknown staff officer who served under Caesar.

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Cleopatra VII's gender has perhaps led to her depiction as a minor if not insignificant figure in ancient, medieval, and even modern historiography about ancient Egypt and the Greco-Roman world.

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Plutarch described Cleopatra VII as having had a stronger personality and charming wit than physical beauty.

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Cleopatra VII was depicted in various ancient works of art, in the Egyptian as well as Hellenistic-Greek and Roman styles.

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Contemporary images of Cleopatra VII were produced both in and outside of Ptolemaic Egypt.

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For instance, a large gilded bronze statue of Cleopatra VII once existed inside the Temple of Venus Genetrix in Rome, the first time that a living person had their statue placed next to that of a deity in a Roman temple.

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In regards to surviving Roman statuary, a life-sized Roman-style statue of Cleopatra VII was found near the Tomba di Nerone, Rome, along the and is housed in the, part of the Vatican Museums.

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Since the 1950s scholars have debated whether or not the Esquiline Venus—discovered in 1874 on the Esquiline Hill in Rome and housed in the of the Capitoline Museums—is a depiction of Cleopatra VII, based on the statue's hairstyle and facial features, apparent royal diadem worn over the head, and the uraeus Egyptian cobra wrapped around the base.

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Cleopatra VII's dressed as Aphrodite when meeting Antony at Tarsos.

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Cleopatra VII was the first foreign queen to have her image appear on Roman currency.

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Cleopatra VII had actually achieved this masculine look in coinage predating her affair with Antony, such as the coins struck at the Ashkelon mint during her brief period of exile to Syria and the Levant, which Joann Fletcher explains as her attempt to appear like her father and as a legitimate successor to a male Ptolemaic ruler.

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Arguments in favor of it depicting Cleopatra include the strong connection of her house with that of the Numidian royal family, Masinissa and Ptolemy VIII Physcon having been associates, and Cleopatra's own daughter marrying the Numidian prince Juba II.

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In 1818 a now lost encaustic painting was discovered in the Temple of Serapis at Hadrian's Villa, near Tivoli, Lazio, Italy, that depicted Cleopatra VII committing suicide with an asp biting her bare chest.

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The portrait painting of Cleopatra VII's death was perhaps among the great number of artworks and treasures taken from Rome by Emperor Hadrian to decorate his private villa, where it was found in an Egyptian temple.

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Adrian Goldsworthy writes that, despite these representations in the traditional Egyptian style, Cleopatra VII would have dressed as a native only "perhaps for certain rites" and instead would usually dress as a Greek monarch, which would include the Greek headband seen in her Greco-Roman busts.

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Possible sculpted head of Cleopatra VII wearing an Egyptian-style vulture headdress, discovered in Rome, either Roman or Hellenistic Egyptian art, Parian marble, 1st century BC, from the Capitoline Museums.

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In modern times Cleopatra VII has become an icon of popular culture, a reputation shaped by theatrical representations dating back to the Renaissance as well as paintings and films.

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The Renaissance humanist Bernardino Cacciante, in his 1504 Libretto apologetico delle donne, was the first Italian to defend the reputation of Cleopatra VII and criticize the perceived moralizing and misogyny in Boccaccio's works.

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Cleopatra VII appeared in miniatures for illuminated manuscripts, such as a depiction of her and Antony lying in a Gothic-style tomb by the Boucicaut Master in 1409.

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Early prints depicting Cleopatra VII include designs by the Renaissance artists Raphael and Michelangelo, as well as 15th-century woodcuts in illustrated editions of Boccaccio's works.

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Cleopatra VII was followed by William Shakespeare, whose Antony and Cleopatra, largely based on Plutarch, was first performed in 1608 and provided a somewhat salacious view of Cleopatra in stark contrast to England's own Virgin Queen.

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In Victorian Britain, Cleopatra VII was highly associated with many aspects of ancient Egyptian culture and her image was used to market various household products, including oil lamps, lithographs, postcards and cigarettes.

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The French dramatist Victorien Sardou and Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw produced plays about Cleopatra, while burlesque shows such as F C Burnand's Antony and Cleopatra offered satirical depictions of the queen connecting her and the environment she lived in with the modern age.

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Also based on Shakespeare's play was Samuel Barber's opera Antony and Cleopatra VII, commissioned for the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House.

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Cleopatra VII became appreciated outside the Western world and Middle East, as the Qing-dynasty Chinese scholar Yan Fu wrote an extensive biography of her.

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Colbert's character of Cleopatra VII served as a glamour model for selling Egyptian-themed products in department stores in the 1930s, targeting female moviegoers.

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Cleopatra VII belonged to the Macedonian Greek dynasty of the Ptolemies, their European origins tracing back to northern Greece.

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Cleopatra VII's was presumably the daughter of Cleopatra VI Tryphaena, the sister-wife of Ptolemy XII who had previously given birth to their daughter Berenice IV.

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Cleopatra VII I Syra's father Antiochus III the Great was a descendant of Queen Apama, the Sogdian Iranian wife of Seleucus I Nicator.

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Duane W Roller speculates that Cleopatra could have been the daughter of a theoretical half-Macedonian-Greek, half-Egyptian woman from Memphis in northern Egypt belonging to a family of priests dedicated to Ptah, but contends that whatever Cleopatra's ancestry, she valued her Greek Ptolemaic heritage the most.

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Claims that Cleopatra VII was an illegitimate child never appeared in Roman propaganda against her.

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Cleopatra VII V was expelled from the court of Ptolemy XII in late 69 BC, a few months after the birth of Cleopatra VII, while Ptolemy XII's three younger children were all born during the absence of his wife.

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