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date: 06 December 2023

Cleopatra VII, 69–30 bcelocked

Cleopatra VII, 69–30 bcelocked

  • Christelle Fischer-Bovet


Cleopatra VII (69–30 bce), “Thea Philopator” (“father-loving goddess”), “Thea Neotera” (“the younger goddess”), and Philopatris (“loving her country”), ruler of Egypt (52–30 bce), as well as of Cyprus (47–30 bce), Libya, and Coele-Syria (37–30 bce), the last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty of the Ptolemies and the best known of all the Cleopatras, was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (“the new Dionysos”), nicknamed Auletes (“flute-player”), and of his sister Cleopatra VI Tryphaina, or possibly of an Egyptian noblewoman. She ruled first as co-regent with her father (52–51 bce), then jointly with her younger brother Ptolemy XIII, with the Roman people as guardian as requested in Ptolemy XII’s will. She ruled alone in 51/50 bce until she was exiled by her brother (50/49–48 bce) and re-established by Julius Caesar as joint ruler with Ptolemy XIII, then with her younger brother Ptolemy XIV (48–44 bce). After his death, she ruled jointly with Ptolemy XV Caesar, her son by Caesar.

Cleopatra expanded the Ptolemaic empire through her political alliance and relationship with the triumvir Mark Antony, with whom she had twins, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene (born 40 bce), and Ptolemy Philadelphus (born 36 bce). The territories Mark Antony bestowed upon her led the triumvir Octavian to declare war against Cleopatra. He defeated the army Mark Antony and the queen had mobilized at Actium in 31 bce and annexed Egypt after they committed suicide in 30 bce. The life and legacy of Cleopatra have inspired authors and artists across time, from Egyptian representations to Roman authors, the latter generally constructing a negative image of the queen, and from Boccaccio and Shakespeare to paintings, sculptures, and 20th- and 21st-century movies.


  • Near East
  • Roman History and Historiography

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