Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cleopatra VII

Cleopatra VII was one of the great women of Ancient Egypt. In Egypt many times women are not recognized, but Cleopatra was an exception. She accomplished many things in her lifetime.

Cleopatra was a very intelligent women and was the first in the royal family to learn Egyptian. (Kemp, 168)

Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek by birth. She was highly educated and spoke seven languages fluently.
(Heart, 64)

Cleopatra first reigned as co-ruler with her father, Ptolomy XII. When Ptolomy died, Cleopatra and younger brother, Ptolomy XIII, joined monarchs. Their first three years of reign were difficult on account of economic difficulties. Some of these were: famine, flood of the Nile, and political conflicts. The relations that Egypt had been completely broke, and by 48 B.C. Ptolomy XIII had ousted Cleopatra from her power. Cleopatra tired to lead a rebellion, but had no choice except to leave.

Cleopatra was strongly linked to Rome. This started when Pompey, Cleopatra's guardian, had been defeated by Caesar at Pharsalia in August of 48 B.C. Pompey fled to Egypt to find refuge from Ptolomy VII. Ptolomy VII, however, killed him the moment he stepped on shore. He did this in hope of creating an alli with Rome. Instead of being filled with joy Caesar was filled with anger. In cause of this Ptolomy drowned in the Nile river. This meant Cleopatra and Ptolomy XVI were the rulers of Egypt.

Soon after Cleopatra became pregnant with Caesar's baby. On June 23, 47B.C. Cleopatra gives birth to a baby boy, Caesarion. Cleopatra then decides that she would go to Rome with Caesar. The Romans were anxious about this, they did not like the eastern way of life, especially aristocracy. Soon there are rumors that Caesar wants to become king. The aristocracy didn't want this to happen so they murdered Caesar. This meant that if the Romans believed Caesar's testament, that Caesarion would become the ruler of Egypt and Rome. Once Caesar was killed there was a fight for power. Caesarion was not considered a successor. The two people that were fighting for power were Anthony and Octavianus.

Cleopatra then returned to Egypt. When her brother died she made Caesarion ruler with her. Then waited for the political struggle to sort out in Rome. Soon Anthony summoned her, she responded eagerly. Cleopatra soon had Anthony in her hand; he even had three men put to death because she felt that they were threatening her throne. Cleopatra later had three children with him. During the Battle of Actinium there was a terrible tragedy. Anthony received a false report that Cleopatra was dead; he stabbed himself.

Cleopatra was hiding in her tomb. Anthony's body was brought to her right before he died. Upon seeing this she held up a serpent and let it put poison into her body. The great Cleopatra was dead.

After Cleopatra's suicide Egypt fell into Rome hands and was no longer an independent empire. (David, 44)

During her life Cleopatra accomplished great things. She was even "queen" of two empires. Yet she took her own life in a tragic death. Cleopatra changed many things in Egypt and was the last person to rule the rich land of Egypt from the house of the Ptolemy, a family that had ruled Egypt for generations.

David, Rosalie, Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc. New York, 1998.

Heart, george, Ancient Egypt. DK Publishing, Inc. New York, 2004.

Kemp, Barry, Think Like an Egyptian - 100 Hieroglyphs. Penguin Group. New York, 2005.

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