Cleopatra: The Lover & Fighter

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Cairo, Egypt --- Ancient Egyptian relief of Cleopatra VII (69-30 B.C.)  Undated photograph, retouched.    BPA 2 #6378 --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

My inspiration of the week: Cleopatra

Cleopatra was born in 69 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. When her father died, he left his kingdom to eighteen year old Cleopatra and her twelve year old brother. Early on, Cleopatra was overthrown in favor of her younger brother by people believing he would be easier to manipulate. Cleopatra fled but soon began building an army from the Arab tribes.

At some point, Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria and took over the palace. He summoned Cleopatra’s brother who was away. Not wanting to be left out, Cleopatra had herself smuggled in through enemy lines rolled in a carpet and delivered to Caesar. Cleopatra and Caesar became lovers. War broke out that led to many deaths including Cleopatra’s brother, who drowned in the Nile while trying to flee, thereby securing her position as Pharaoh.

During the year 46 BC, Caesar returned to Rome and brought Cleopatra with him. In 44 BC, he was assassinated by his senators and fearing for her life and the life of her child with Caesar, Cleopatra fled Rome to return home to Alexandria.

Cleopatra was invited by Mark Antony to Tarsus in 41 BC. In a very calculated move, she made a grand entrance upon her arrival which bewitched Mark Antony instantly. They soon became lovers. This affair would continue for many years. In 32 to 31 BC, Antony finally divorced his wife, Octavia. This forced the Western part of the world to recognize his relationship with Cleopatra.

In 30 BC, as Octavian’s forces entered Alexandria, the distraught Antony committed suicide by falling on his own sword. Cleopatra followed him in death after Octavian’s forces captured Egypt. She committed suicide so as not to suffer humiliation at his hands. Cleopatra died on August 12, 30 BC at the age of 39. She would be the last Egyptian Pharaoh. After her death, Caesarion, her son with Caesar, was strangled and her other children were raised by Antony’s wife, Octavia.

Cleopatra was a born leader whose charisma, intelligence, and ambition pushed her to become a fairly successful monarch. She was able to remain a passionate woman but also a powerhouse leader.