How did Cleopatra rise to and maintain her power? Not much is known about her life since she lived so long ago, but what is known is enough to piece together some of her life story. Cleopatra was a strong and intelligent woman who made it through all the struggle and strife of the ancient world until it became too much for her. Cleopatra’s reign began and ended with tragedy, but was maintained by exploited love connections.
Cleopatra VII Philopator was born in 69 B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt. (“Cleopatra: The Woman…”) Her father was Ptolemy XII. Her mother was speculated to be Cleopatra V Tryphaena, who was possibly her father’s half-sister. (“Cleopatra.”) She had five siblings which included two older sisters, two younger brothers, and a younger sister. Both of her older sisters are suspected to have died before her rule. . (“Cleopatra: The Woman…”)
Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt, but she was of Macedonian Greek descent. Her family had ruled since the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. (Watkins, Thayer H.) There is speculation on whether or not she has African ancestry. The remains of what is believed to be Cleopatra’s younger sister, Princess Arsinoe, were found in Ephesus, Turkey. DNA tests have proven that the remains of the person found had part-African ancestry. It remains unclear whether or not Cleopatra had African ancestry as her mother was described as a “woman of significant status.” (“Cleopatra Had African…”)
In 51 B.C., Cleopatra had to marry her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, and rule Egypt after the death of her father, which occurred from natural causes. Cleopatra was eighteen at the time. There is debate on what age her brother was. Some people argue that he was ten, others say that he was twelve. (“Cleopatra.”)(“Cleopatra: The Woman…”) She had to marry her brother because, under Egyptian law, a woman cannot rule alone. She had to have a consort. During the first years of their reign together, Cleopatra dropped his name from all official papers and her portrait was minted on coins. There were many problems at the beginning of her reign. Anarchy spurred in foreign Egyptian-rule lands and famine broke out in Egypt because the Nile was not flooding. (“Cleopatra: The Woman…”) In 49 B.C., Cleopatra was forced to flee to Syria after Pothinus, Achillas, and Theodotus, who were Ptolemy XIII’s advisors, sought to overthrow her. They convinced the Egyptian people that Cleopatra was the cause of the famine that they were experiencing. (“Cleopatra.”)(“Cleopatra VII’s Childhood…”) She smuggled herself into the royal palace in a rug to plead her case with Julius Caesar. Cleopatra and Caesar became lovers. Ptolemy XIII discovered this and declared war on Caesar. Caesar overpowered Ptolemy XIII’s army and Ptolemy XIII drowned in the Nile River while trying to escape. (Cleopatra: The Woman…”)
After Ptolemy XIII’s death, Caesar restored Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIV, her youngest brother, as rulers of Egypt. In 47 B.C., Cleopatra gave...