Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kings & Queens: Queen Cleopatra Start & End

Cleopatra's family ruled Egypt for more than 100 years before she was born around 69 B.C. The stories and myths surrounding Cleopatra's tragic life inspired a number of books. The era began when Alexander's general, Ptolemy, took over as ruler of Egypt, becoming King Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. Over the next three centuries, his descendants would follow in his path. At its height, Ptolemaic Egypt was one of the world's great powers.
Around this same time, the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey was consuming Rome. Pompey eventually sought refuge in Egypt, but on orders by Ptolemy, was killed.
In pursuit of his rival, Julius Caesar followed Pompey into Egypt, where he met and eventually fell in love with Cleopatra. In Caesar, Cleopatra now had access to enough military muscle to dethrone her brother and solidify her grip on Egypt as sole ruler. Following Caesar's defeat of Ptolemy's forces at the Battle of the Nile, Caesar restored Cleopatra to the throne. Soon after, Ptolemy XIII fled and drowned in the Nile. 

In 47 B.C. Cleopatra bore Caesar a son, whom she named Caesarion. However, Caesar never acknowledged the boy was his offspring, and historical debate continues over whether he was indeed his father.

Just like Caesar before him, Antony was embroiled in a battle over Rome's control. His rival was Caesar's own great-nephew, Gaius Octavius,Cleopatra had her own motivations, as well. In exchange for her help, she sought the return of Egypt's eastern empire, which included large areas of Lebanon and Syria. 

In the year 34 B.C., Antony returned with Cleopatra to Alexandria with a triumphant flair. Crowds swarmed to the Gymnasium to catch a glimpse of the couple seated on golden thrones that were elevated on silver platforms. Beside them sat their children. Antony antagonized his rival by declaring Caesarion as Caesar’s real son and legal heir, rather than Octavian, whom the revered Roman leader had adopted. Octavian, however, fought back, declaring he’d seized Antony’s will, and told the Roman people that Antony had turned over Roman possessions to Cleopatra and that there were plans to make Alexandria the Roman capital. 


In the year 31 B.C., Cleopatra and Antony combined armies to try to defeat Octavian in a raging sea battle at Actium, on Greece’s west coast. The clash, however, proved to be a costly defeat for the Egyptians, forcing Antony and Cleopatra to flee back to Egypt. 


Antony soon returned to the battlefield, where he was falsely informed that Cleopatra had died. Upon hearing the news, the despondent Roman leader committed suicide by stabbing himself. Cleopatra followed her lover’s demise by ending her life as well by being bitten by an Egyptian cobra. She died on August 12, 30 B.C. The two were buried together, as they had wished, and Egypt 
became a province of the Roman Empire.


Cleopatr's tomb:

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