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|Cleopatra VII Philopator|
|Queen of Ptolemaic Kingdom|
|Reign||51 – 12 August 30 BC (21 years)|
|Predecessor||Ptolemy XII Auletes|
|Successor||Ptolemy XV Caesarion|
|Co-rulers||Ptolemy XII Auletes
Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator
Ptolemy XV Caesarion
Alexandria, Ptolemaic Kingdom
|Died||12 August 30 BC (aged 39)
|Burial||Unknown (probably in Egypt)|
|Spouse||Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator
|Issue||Caesarion, Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar
Cleopatra Selene, Queen of Mauretania
Ptolemy XVI Philadelphus
|Father||Ptolemy XII Auletes|
|Mother||Cleopatra V of Egypt (presumably)|
|Cleopatra VII in hieroglyphs|
The great Lady of perfection, excellent in counsel
The great one, sacred image of her father
Qlwpdrt nṯrt mr(t) jts
The goddess Cleopatra who is beloved of her father
|Part of a series on|
|Ancient Rome and the fall of the Republic|
Cleopatra VII Philopator (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ Cleopatra Philopator; 69 – August 12, 30 BC), known to history as Cleopatra, was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, briefly survived as pharaoh by her son Caesarion. After her reign, Egypt became a province of the recently established Roman Empire.
Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a Greek family of Macedonian origin that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great's death during the Hellenistic period. The Ptolemies spoke Greek throughout their dynasty, and refused to speak Late Egyptian, which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian were used on official court documents such as the Rosetta Stone. By contrast, Cleopatra did learn to speak Egyptian and represented herself as the reincarnation of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes, and later with her brothers Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As queen, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated Caesarion, her son with Caesar, to co-ruler in name. After the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Octavian (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and son Ptolemy Philadelphus (her unions with her brothers had produced no children). Antony committed suicide after losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, and Cleopatra followed suit. According to a popular belief, she killed herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC. She was outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh by his supporters, but he was soon killed on Octavian's orders. Egypt then became the Roman province of Aegyptus.
Cleopatra's legacy survives in numerous works of art, both ancient and modern, and many dramatizations of incidents from her life in literature and other media. These include William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra; George Frideric Handel's opera Giulio Cesare; George Bernard Shaw's play Caesar and Cleopatra; Jules Massenet's opera Cléopâtre; and the films Cleopatra (1934) and Cleopatra (1963). The surviving body of ancient works depicting Cleopatra include statues, sculpted busts, profile portraits on coins, and a Roman wall painting at Pompeii. Although an encaustic painting of Cleopatra was lost shortly after it was discovered at Hadrian's Villa in 1818, a steel engraving was made based on its contemporary archaeological description.
- 1 Etymology of the name
- 2 Biography
- 3 Character and cultural depictions
- 4 Ancestry
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Etymology of the name
The name Cleopatra is derived from the Greek name Κλεοπάτρα (Kleopatra) which meant "she who comes from glorious father" or "glory of the father" in the feminine form, derived from κλέος (kleos) "glory" combined with πατήρ (pater) "father" (the masculine form would be written either as Kleopatros (Κλεόπατρος), or Patroklos (Πάτροκλος)).
Accession to the throne
The identity of Cleopatra's mother is unknown, but she is generally believed to be Cleopatra V Tryphaena of Egypt, the sister-wife of Ptolemy XII Auletes, who was the daughter of Ptolemy X. Cleopatra's father Auletes was a direct descendant of Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy I Soter, son of Arsinoe and Lagus, both of Macedonia in northern Greece.
Centralization of power and political corruption led to uprisings in and the losses of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, making Ptolemy XII Auletes' reign one of the most calamitous of the dynasty. Ptolemy went to Rome with Cleopatra; Cleopatra VI Tryphaena seized the crown but died shortly afterwards in suspicious circumstances. It is believed (though not proven by historical sources) that Berenice IV poisoned her so that she could assume sole rulership. Regardless of the cause, she ruled until Ptolemy Auletes returned in 55 BC with Roman support, capturing Alexandria aided by the Roman general Aulus Gabinius. Berenice was imprisoned and executed shortly afterwards, her head allegedly being sent to the royal court on the decree of her father, the king. Cleopatra now became joint regent and deputy to her father at age 14, although her power would have been severely limited.
Ptolemy XII Auletes died in March 51 BC. His will made 18-year-old Cleopatra and her 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, joint monarchs. The first three years of their reign were difficult due to economic failures, famine, deficient floods of the Nile, and political conflicts. Cleopatra was married to her young brother, but she quickly made it clear that she had no intention of sharing power with him.
In August 51 BC, relations completely broke down between Cleopatra and Ptolemy. Cleopatra dropped Ptolemy's name from official documents and her face alone appeared on coins, which went against Ptolemaic tradition of female rulers being subordinate to male co-rulers. In 50 BC, Cleopatra came into serious conflict with the Gabiniani, powerful Roman troops left behind by Aulus Gabinius to protect Ptolemy XII Auletes after his restoration to the throne in 55 BC. The Gabiniani killed the sons of the Roman governor of Syria, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, when they came to ask the Gabiniani to assist their father against the Parthians. Cleopatra handed the murderers over to Bibulus in chains, whereupon the Gabiniani became bitter enemies of the queen. This conflict was one of the main causes of Cleopatra's fall from power shortly afterward. The sole reign of Cleopatra was finally ended by a cabal of courtiers led by the eunuch Pothinus, in connection with half-Greek general Achillas, and Theodotus of Chios. Circa 48 BC, Cleopatra's younger brother Ptolemy XIII became sole ruler.
Relations with Rome
Assassination of Pompey
While Cleopatra was in exile, Pompey became embroiled in Caesar's Civil War. Pompey fled to Alexandria from the forces of Caesar, seeking sanctuary after his defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus in late 48 BC. Ptolemy was thirteen years old at that time, and had set up a throne for himself on the harbor. From there, he watched as Pompey was murdered on September 28, 48 BC, by one of his former officers, now in Ptolemaic service. He was beheaded in front of his wife and children, who were on the ship from which he had just disembarked. Ptolemy is thought to have ordered the death to ingratiate himself with Caesar, thus becoming an ally of Rome, to which Egypt was in debt at the time. This act proved a miscalculation on Ptolemy's part. Caesar arrived in Egypt two days later, and Ptolemy presented him with Pompey's severed head. Caesar was enraged. Pompey was Caesar's political enemy, but he was a Roman consul and the widower of Caesar's only legitimate daughter, Julia, who died during childbirth. Caesar seized the Egyptian capital and imposed himself as arbiter between the rival claims of Ptolemy and Cleopatra.
Relationship with Julius Caesar
Cleopatra was eager to take advantage of Julius Caesar's anger toward Ptolemy and had herself (at the approximate age of 21) secretly smuggled into Caesar's palace to meet with him. Plutarch gives a vivid description in his Life of Julius Caesar of how she entered past Ptolemy’s guards rolled up in a carpet that Apollodorus the Sicilian was carrying. She became Caesar’s mistress and gave birth to their son Ptolemy Caesar in 47 BC, nine months after their first meeting. He was nicknamed Caesarion, which means "little Caesar."
At this point, Caesar abandoned his plans to annex Egypt, instead backing Cleopatra's claim to the throne. Mithridates raised the siege of Alexandria, and Caesar defeated Ptolemy's army at the Battle of the Nile. Ptolemy XIII drowned in the Nile, and Caesar restored Cleopatra to her throne with younger brother Ptolemy XIV as her new co-ruler. When Caesar left Egypt, he left three legions there under the command of Rufio.
Caesar was thirty-one years older than Cleopatra when they met; they became lovers during Caesar’s stay in Egypt between 48 BC and 47 BC. Cleopatra claimed that Caesar was the father of her son and wished him to name the boy his heir; but Caesar refused, choosing his grandnephew Octavian instead. During this relationship, it was also rumored that Cleopatra introduced Caesar to her astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria, who proposed the idea of leap days and leap years. This was not new; they were proclaimed in 238 BC but the reform never took effect. Caesar made this the basis of his reform of the Roman calendar in 45 BC, and the Egyptian calendar was reformed along these lines in 26 BC.
Cleopatra, Ptolemy XIV, and Caesarion visited Rome in mid-46 BC. The Egyptian queen resided in one of Caesar's country houses, which included the Horti Caesaris just outside Rome (as a foreign head of state, she was not allowed inside Rome's pomerium). The relationship between Cleopatra and Caesar was obvious to the Roman people and caused a scandal because the dictator was already married to Calpurnia. But Caesar even erected a golden statue of Cleopatra represented as Isis in the temple of Venus Genetrix (the mythical ancestress of Caesar's family), which was situated at the Forum Julium. Cicero said in his preserved letters that he hated the foreign queen. Cleopatra and her entourage were still in Rome when Caesar was assassinated on 15 March 44 BC, and after his death returned with her relatives to Egypt. When Ptolemy XIV died, allegedly poisoned by his older sister, Cleopatra made Caesarion her co-regent and successor and gave him the epithets Theos Philopator Philometor (Father-loving and mother-loving God).
Cleopatra in the Roman Civil War
In light of her former relationship with Caesar, Cleopatra sided with his party, led by Mark Antony and Octavian, in the civil war against the assassins of Caesar, led by Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger and Gaius Cassius Longinus. Brutus and Cassius left Italy and sailed to the east of the Republic, where they conquered large areas and established military bases. At the beginning of 43 BC, Cleopatra formed an alliance with the leader of the Caesarian party in the east, Publius Cornelius Dolabella, who also recognized Caesarion as her co-ruler. However, by July, Dolabella was encircled in Laodicea and then committed suicide.
Cassius wanted to invade Egypt to seize its treasures and punish Cleopatra for her support for Dolabella. Egypt, famine-stricken, weak militarily on land, and in the throes of an epidemic, seemed an easy target. Cassius also wanted to prevent Cleopatra from bringing reinforcements for Antony and Octavian, but he was prevented from invading Egypt when Brutus summoned him back to Smyrna at the end of 43 BC. Cassius tried to blockade Cleopatra’s route to the Caesarians by positioning 60 ships and a legion of elite troops, commanded by Lucius Staius Murcus, at Cape Matapan in the south of the Peloponnese. Nevertheless, Cleopatra sailed with her fleet from Alexandria to the west along the Libyan coast to join the Caesarian leaders, but she was forced to return to Egypt because her ships were damaged by a violent storm and she became ill. Staius Murcus learned of the queen's misfortune and saw wreckage from her ships on the coast of Greece. He then sailed with his ships into the Adriatic Sea.
Cleopatra and Mark Antony
Mark Antony was one of the triumvirs who ruled Rome in the power vacuum following Caesar's death. He sent his intimate friend Quintus Dellius to Egypt in 41 BC, to summon Cleopatra to him in Cilician Tarsus, ostensibly in order to answer questions about her loyalty--during the Roman civil war, she allegedly had paid much money to Cassius. It seems that, in reality, Antony wanted Cleopatra’s promise to support his intended war against the Parthians. Cleopatra arrived in great state, and (at the approximate age of 28) so charmed Antony that he chose to spend late 41 BC to early 40 BC with her in Alexandria.
To safeguard herself and Caesarion, she had Antony order the death of her sister, Arsinoe IV, who had been banished to the Temple of Artemis in Roman-controlled Ephesus for her role in leading the Siege of Alexandria (47 BC). The execution was carried out in 41 BC on the steps of the temple, and this violation of temple sanctuary scandalised Rome. Cleopatra also retrieved her strategos (military governor) of Cyprus Serapion, who had supported Cassius against her wishes.
On 25 December 40 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to twins fathered by Antony, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II. Four years later, Antony visited Alexandria again en route to make war with the Parthians. He renewed his relationship with Cleopatra and, from this point on, Alexandria was his home. He married Cleopatra according to the Egyptian rite (a letter quoted in Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars suggests this), although he was married at the time to Octavia the Younger, sister of his fellow triumvir Octavian. He and Cleopatra had another child, Ptolemy Philadelphus.
Cleopatra and Caesarion were crowned co-rulers of Egypt and Cyprus at the Donations of Alexandria in late 34 BC, following Antony's conquest of Armenia. Alexander Helios was crowned ruler of Armenia, Media, and Parthia; Cleopatra Selene II was crowned ruler of Cyrenaica and Libya; and Ptolemy Philadelphus was crowned ruler of Phoenicia, Syria, and Cilicia. Cleopatra was also given the title of "Queen of Kings" by Antonius. Her enemies in Rome feared that she "was planning a war of revenge that was to array all the East against Rome, establish herself as empress of the world at Rome, cast justice from Capitolium, and inaugurate a new universal kingdom." Caesarion was showered with many additional titles, including god, son of god, and King of Kings, and was depicted as Horus. Egyptians thought that Cleopatra was a reincarnation of the goddess Isis, as she called herself Nea Isis.
Relations between Antony and Octavian had been disintegrating for several years; they finally broke down in 33 BC, and Octavian convinced the Senate to levy war against Egypt. In 31 BC, Antony's forces faced the Romans in a naval action off the coast of Actium. Cleopatra was present with a fleet of her own. According to Plutarch, Cleopatra took flight with her ships at the height of the battle, and Antony followed her. Following the Battle of Actium, Octavian invaded Egypt. As he approached Alexandria, Antony's armies deserted to Octavian on August 1, 30 BC. To finance her war against Octavian, Cleopatra took gold from the tomb of Alexander the Great, which had been previously robbed.
There are a number of unverifiable stories about Cleopatra. One of the best known is that she playfully bet Antony, at one of the lavish dinners which they shared, that she could spend ten million sestertii on a dinner. He accepted the bet. The next night, she had a conventional, unspectacular meal served; he was ridiculing this, when she ordered the second course — only a cup of strong vinegar. She then removed one of her priceless pearl earrings, dropped it into the vinegar, allowed it to dissolve, and drank the mixture. The earliest report of this story comes from Pliny the Elder and dates to about 100 years after the banquet described would have happened. The calcium carbonate in pearls does dissolve in vinegar, but slowly unless the pearl is first crushed.
The ancient sources, particularly the Roman ones, are in general agreement that Cleopatra killed herself, at age 39, by inducing an asp (Egyptian cobra) to bite her. The oldest source is Strabo, who was alive at the time of the event and might even have been in Alexandria. He says that there are two stories — that she applied a toxic ointment or that she was bitten by an asp on her breast — but he said in his writings that he was not sure whether Cleopatra poisoned herself or was murdered. Several Roman poets writing within ten years of the event mention bites by two asps, as does Florus, a historian, some 150 years later. Velleius, sixty years after the event, also refers to an asp. Other authors have questioned these historical accounts, stating that it is possible that Augustus had her killed. In 2010, German historian Christoph Schaefer challenged all other theories, declaring that the queen had actually died from drinking a mixture of poisons. After studying historical texts and consulting with toxicologists, the historian concluded that the asp could not have caused the quick and pain-free death claimed by most sources, since the asp venom paralyses parts of the body, starting with the eyes, before causing death. Living when and where she did, Cleopatra would have known of the violent and painful effects of an asp's venomous bite, so it is unlikely that it was the cause of her death. Also, the asp's bite is not always fatal. Schaefer and his toxicologist Dietrich Mebs have theorized that Cleopatra used a mixture of hemlock, wolfsbane, and opium.
Plutarch, writing about 130 years after the event, reports that Octavian succeeded in capturing Cleopatra in her mausoleum after the death of Antony. He ordered his freedman Epaphroditus to guard her to prevent her from committing suicide, because he allegedly wanted to present her in his triumph. However, Cleopatra was able to deceive Epaphroditus and kill herself nevertheless. Plutarch states that she was found dead, her handmaiden Iras dying at her feet, and handmaiden Charmion adjusting her crown before she herself fell. He then goes on to state that an asp was concealed in a basket of figs that was brought to her by a rustic and, finding it after eating a few figs, she held out her arm for it to bite. Other stories state that it was hidden in a vase and that she poked it with a spindle until it got angry enough to bite her on the arm. Finally, he indicates that, in Octavian's triumphal march back in Rome, an effigy of Cleopatra with an asp clinging to it was part of the parade.
Classical sources say that Cleopatra was bitten on the arm, but she is more usually depicted in medieval and Renaissance iconography with asps at her breast, a tradition followed by Shakespeare.
Plutarch tells us of the death of Antony. When his armies deserted him and joined with Octavian, he cried out that Cleopatra had betrayed him. She locked herself in her monument with only her two handmaidens, fearing his wrath, and sent messengers to tell Antony that she was dead. Believing them, Antony stabbed himself in the stomach with his sword, and lay on his couch to die. Instead, the blood flow stopped, and he begged any and all to finish him off. Another messenger came from Cleopatra with instructions to bring him to her, and he consented, rejoicing that Cleopatra was still alive. She would not open the door, but tossed ropes out of a window. After Antony was securely trussed up, she and her handmaidens hauled him up into the monument. This nearly finished him off. After dragging him in through the window, they laid him on a couch. Cleopatra tore off her clothes and covered him with them. She raved and cried, beat her breasts, and engaged in self-mutilation. Antony told her to calm down, asked for a glass of wine, and died upon finishing it.
Caesarion, Cleopatra's son by Caesar, was proclaimed pharaoh by the Egyptians after Alexandria fell to Octavian. Caesarion was captured and killed, his fate reportedly sealed when one of Octavian's advisers paraphrased Homer: "It is bad to have too many Caesars." This ended the Hellenistic line of Egyptian pharaohs and, in fact, the line of all Egyptian pharaohs. The three children of Cleopatra and Antony were spared and taken back to Rome, where they were taken care of by Antony's wife Octavia Minor. Octavian arranged the marriage of the daughter, Cleopatra Selene, to Juba II of Mauretania.
Character and cultural depictions
Cleopatra was regarded as a great beauty, even in the ancient world. In his Life of Antony, Plutarch remarks that "judging by the proofs which she had had before this of the effect of her beauty upon Caius Caesar and Gnaeus the son of Pompey, she had hopes that she would more easily bring Antony to her feet. For Caesar and Pompey had known her when she was still a girl and inexperienced in affairs, but she was going to visit Antony at the very time when women have the most brilliant beauty." Later in the work, however, Plutarch indicates that "her beauty, as we are told, was in itself neither altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her." Rather, what ultimately made Cleopatra attractive were her wit, charm and "sweetness in the tones of her voice."
Cassius Dio also spoke of Cleopatra's allure: "For she was a woman of surpassing beauty, and at that time, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most striking; she also possessed a most charming voice and knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to everyone. Being brilliant to look upon and to listen to, with the power to subjugate everyone, even a love-sated man already past his prime, she thought that it would be in keeping with her role to meet Caesar, and she reposed in her beauty all her claims to the throne."
These accounts in Roman historiography influenced later cultural depictions of Cleopatra, which typically present her using her charms to influence the most powerful men in the Western world. Cleopatra was also renowned for her intellect. Plutarch writes that she could speak at least nine languages and rarely had need of an interpreter.
Depictions in ancient art
Cleopatra was depicted in various ancient works of art, in the Egyptian as well as Hellenistic-Greek and Roman styles. Surviving works include statues, busts, reliefs, and minted coins, as well as an ancient carved cameos, such as one depicting Cleopatra and Mark Antony in Hellenistic style, now in the Altes Museum, Berlin. Contemporary images of Cleopatra were produced both in and outside of Ptolemaic Egypt. For instance, a large gilded bronze statue of Cleopatra once existed inside the Temple of Venus Genetrix in Rome, the first time that a living person had their statue placed next to that of a deity in a Roman temple. It was erected there by Julius Caesar and remained in the temple at least until the 3rd century AD, its preservation perhaps owing to Caesar's patronage, although Augustus did not remove or destroy artworks in Alexandria depicting Cleopatra. In regards to surviving Roman statuary, a life-sized Roman-style statue of Cleopatra was found near the Tomba di Nerone, Rome along the Via Cassia and is now housed in the Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican Museums. The historian Plutarch, in his Life of Antony, claimed that the public statues of Mark Antony were torn down by Augustus, but those of Cleopatra were preserved following her death thanks to her friend Archibius paying the emperor 2,000 talents to dissuade him from destroying hers.
Since the 1950s scholars have debated whether or not the Esquiline Venus—discovered in 1874 on the Esquiline Hill in Rome and housed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Capitoline Museums—is a depiction of Cleopatra, based on the statue's hairstyle and facial features, apparent royal diadem worn over the head, and the uraeus Egyptian cobra wrapped around the base. Detractors of this theory argue that the facial features on the Berlin bust and coinage of Cleopatra differ and assert that it was unlikely she would be depicted as as the naked goddess Venus (i.e. the Greek Aphrodite). However, she was depicted in an Egyptian statue as the goddess Isis. The Esquiline Venus is generally thought to be a mid-1st-century AD Roman copy of a 1st-century BC Greek original from the school of Pasiteles.
Coins of Cleopatra dated to the period of her marriage to Mark Antony, which also bear his image, portray the queen as having a very similar aquiline nose and prominent chin as that of her husband. These similar facial features followed an artistic convention that represented the mutually-observed harmony of a royal couple. Her strong, almost masculine facial features in these particular coins are strikingly different from the smoother, softer, and perhaps idealized sculpted images of her in either the Egyptian or Hellenistic styles. Her facial features on minted currency are perhaps similar to that of her father Ptolemy XII Auletes or even her Ptolemaic ancestor Queen Arsinoe II (316 - 260 BC). It is likely, due to political expediency, that Antony's visage was made to conform not only to hers but also to those of her Macedonian Greek ancestors who founded the Ptolemaic dynasty, to familiarize himself to her subjects as a legitimate member of the royal house. The inscriptions on the coins are written in Greek, but also in the nominative case of Roman coins rather than the genitive case of Greek coins, in addition to having the letters placed in a circular fashion along the edges of the coin instead of across it horizontally or vertically as was customary for Greek ones. These facets of their coinage represent the synthesis of Roman and Hellenistic culture, and perhaps also a statement to their subjects, however ambiguous to modern scholars, about the superiority of either Antony or Cleopatra over the other. Diana E. E. Kleiner argues that Cleopatra, in one of her coins minted with the dual image of her husband Antony, made herself more masculine-looking than other portraits and more like an acceptable Roman client queen than a Hellenistic ruler.
A silver tetradrachm minted sometime after her marriage with Antony in 37 BC depicts her wearing a royal diadem and a 'melon' hairstyle. The combination of this hairstyle with a diadem are also featured in two surviving sculpted marble busts. This hairstyle, with hair braided back into a bun, is the same as that worn by her Ptolemaic ancestors Arsinoe II and Berenice II (266 - 221 BC) in their own coinage. After her visit to Rome in 46-44 BC it became fashionable for Roman women to adopt this elaborate hairstyle, but it was abandoned for a more modest, austere look during the conservative rule of Augustus.
Of the surviving Greco-Roman-style busts of Cleopatra, the sculpture known as the 'Berlin Cleopatra', located in the Antikensammlung Berlin collection of the Altes Museum, possesses her full nose, whereas the bust known as the 'Vatican Cleopatra', located in the Vatican Museums, is damaged with a missing nose. Both the Berlin Cleopatra and Vatican Cleopatra have royal diadems, similar facial features, and perhaps once resembled the face of her bronze statue housed in the Temple of Venus Genetrix. Both busts are dated to the mid-1st century BC and were found in Roman villas along the Via Appia in Italy, the Vatican Cleopatra having been unearthed in the Villa of the Quintilii. Francisco Pina Polo writes that Cleopatra's coinage present her image with certainty and asserts that the sculpted portrait of the Berlin bust is confirmed as having a similar profile with her hair pulled back into a bun, a diadem, and a hooked nose. A third sculpted portrait of Cleopatra accepted by scholars as being authentic survives at the Archaeological Museum of Cherchel, Algeria. This portrait features the royal diadem and similar facial features as the Berlin and Vatican busts, but has a more unique hairstyle and may even depict Cleopatra Selene II, daughter of Cleopatra VII who married king Juba II of Mauretania.
Other possible but disputed busts of Cleopatra include one in the British Museum, London, made of limestone, which perhaps only depicts a woman in her entourage during her trip to Rome. The woman in this bust has facial features similar to other portraits (including the pronounced aquiline nose), but lacks a royal diadem and sports a different hairstyle. However, the British Museum bust could potentially represent Cleopatra at a different stage in her life and may also betray an effort by Cleopatra to discard the use of royal insignia (i.e. the diadem) to make herself more appealing to the citizens of Republican Rome. Duane W. Roller speculates that the British Museum bust, along with those in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, the Capitoline Museums, Rome, and in the private collection of Maurice Nahmen (1868-1948), while having similar facial features and hairstyles as the Berlin bust but lacking a royal diadem, most likely represent members of the royal court or even Roman women imitating Cleopatra's popular hairstyle.
Native Egyptian art
The Bust of Cleopatra in the Royal Ontario Museum represents a bust of Cleopatra in the Egyptian style. Dated to the mid-1st-century BC, it is perhaps the earliest depiction of Cleopatra as both a goddess and ruling pharaoh of Egypt. This sculpture also has pronounced eyes that share similarities with Roman copies of Ptolemaic sculpted works of art. The Dendera Temple complex near Dendera, Egypt, contains Egyptian-style carved relief images along the exterior walls of the Temple of Hathor depicting Cleopatra and her young son Caesarion as a fully-grown adult and ruling pharaoh making offerings to the gods. Augustus had his name inscribed there following the death of Cleopatra. A large Ptolemaic black basalt statue measuring 41 in (1.04 m) in height, located now at the Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, Russia, is thought to represent Arsinoe II, wife of Ptolemy II, but recent analysis has indicated that it could depict her descendant Cleopatra VII due to the three uraei adorning her headdress, an increase from the two used by Arsinoe II to symbolize her rule over Lower and Upper Egypt. The woman in the basalt statue also holds a divided, double cornucopia (dikeras), which can be seen on coins of both Arsinoe II and Cleopatra VII. In his Kleopatra und die Caesaren (2006), Bernard Andreae contends that this basalt statue, like other idealized Egyptian portraits of the queen, does not contain realistic facial features and hence adds little to the knowledge of her appearance.
In the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus at Pompeii, Italy a mid-1st century BC Second-Style wall painting of the goddess Venus holding a cupid near massive temple doors is most likely a depiction of Cleopatra VII as Venus Genetrix with her son Caesarion. The commission of the painting most likely coincides with the erection of the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar in September 46 BC, where Julius Caesar had a gilded statue erected depicting Cleopatra. It is also likely that this particular statue formed the basis of her depictions in both sculpted art as well as this painting at Pompeii. The woman in the painting wears a royal diadem over her head and is strikingly similar in appearance to the Vatican Cleopatra bust, which bears possible marks on the marble of its left cheek where a cupid's arm may have been torn off. The room with the painting was walled off by its owner, perhaps in reaction to the murder of Caesarion in 30 BC by order of Augustus, when public depictions of Cleopatra's son would have been unfavorable with the new Roman regime. Behind her golden diadem crowned with a red jewel is a translucent veil with crinkles that suggest the 'melon' hairstyle favored by the queen. Her skin is ivory white, her face round, her nose long and aquiline, and her large round eyes are deep-set, features that were common in both Roman and Ptolemaic-Egyptian depictions of deities. Roller affirms that "there seems little doubt that this is a depiction of Cleopatra and Caesarion before the doors of the Temple of Venus in the Forum Julium and, as such, it becomes the only extant contemporary painting of the queen."
In 1818 a now lost encaustic painting was discovered in the Temple of Serapis at Hadrian's Villa near Tivoli, Lazio, Italy that depicted Cleopatra committing suicide with an asp biting her bare chest. A chemical analysis performed in 1822 confirmed that the medium for the painting was composed of one-third wax and two-thirds resin. The thickness of the painting over Cleopatra's bare flesh and her drapery were reportedly similar to the paintings of the Fayum mummy portraits. A steel engraving published by John Sartain in 1885 depicting the painting as described in the archaeological report shows Cleopatra wearing authentic clothing and jewelry of Egypt in the late Hellenistic period, as well as the radiant crown of the Ptolemaic rulers, as seen in their portraits on various coins minted during their respective reigns.
After Cleopatra committed suicide, Augustus commissioned a painting to be made in her likeness and paraded it in her stead during his triumphal procession in Rome. It is known that Julius Caesar previously paid a Greek artist Timomakos 80 talents for an encaustic painting that later adorned a temple. The death portrait painting of Cleopatra was ostensibly taken from Rome along with the bulk of artworks and treasures used by Emperor Hadrian to decorate his private villa, including the temple where the painting was found.
In a 1949 publication, Frances Pratt and Becca Fizel rejected the idea proposed by some scholars in the 19th and early 20th centuries that the painting was perhaps done by an artist of the Italian Renaissance. Pratt and Fizel highlighted the Classical-style of the painting as preserved in textual descriptions and the steel engraving. They argued that it was unlikely for a Renaissance-period painter to have painted works with encaustic materials, conducted thorough research into Hellenistic-period Egyptian clothing and jewelry as depicted in the painting, and then precariously placed it in the ruins of the Egyptian temple at Hadrian's Villa. The painting's discovery at the site of these Roman ruins supports the theory that it was an ancient Roman work of art.
The high degree of inbreeding amongst the Ptolemies is also illustrated by Cleopatra's immediate ancestry, of which a reconstruction is shown below. Through three uncle–niece marriages and three sister–brother marriages, her family tree collapses to a single couple at four, five or six generations back (counting through different lines).
It has often been said that "there was not one drop of Egyptian blood in the Ptolemaic line", and that the Romans, in all their anti-Cleopatra propaganda, made no mention of any illegitimacy against her.
|Ancestors of Cleopatra VII of Egypt|
Several persons appear multiple times in Cleopatra's ancestry. For instance, her mother was her father's niece and thus not only her mother but also her cousin. This family tree attempts to present those relationships in a more easily-understood format.
|Ptolemy V Epiphanes||Cleopatra I|
|Ptolemy VI Philometor||Cleopatra II|
|Ptolemy VIII Physcon||Cleopatra III|
|Cleopatra Selene of Syria||Ptolemy IX Lathyros||Cleopatra IV|
|Ptolemy X Alexander I||Berenice III|
|Cleopatra V||Ptolemy XII Auletes|
- Raia, Ann R.; Sebesta, Judith Lynn. (September 2017). "The World of State". College of New Rochelle. Accessed 6 March 2018.
- "Cat. 22 Tetradrachm Portraying Queen Cleopatra VII". Art Institute of Chicago. Accessed 6 March 2018.
- Grout, James. (April 1, 2017). "Was Cleopatra Beautiful?". Encyclopaedia Romana. University of Chicago. Accessed 6 March 2018.
- Polo, Francisco Pina (2013). "The Great Seducer: Cleopatra, Queen and Sex Symbol" in Silke Knippschild and Marta Garcia Morcillo (eds), Seduction and Power: Antiquity in the Visual and Performing Arts, 183-197. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-44119-065-9, pp. 184-186.
- Roller, Duane W. (2010). Cleopatra: a biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195365535, pp. 174-175.
- Walker, p. 129.
- T.C. Skeat, "The Last Days of Cleopatra: A Chronological Problem", The Journal of Roman Studies, 43 (1953), pp. 98–100 .
- *Western civilisation:ideas, Politics, and society by Marvin Perry, Margaret C Jacob, Myrna Chase, James R Jacob page 132: ”Cleopatra (69- 30 BC), the Greek queen of Egypt, belonged to the Ptolemaic family, the Macedonian Greeks who ruled Egypt during the Hellenistic Age”. *The Civilization of Rome by Donald R. Dudley, Page 57: ”In Egypt the Greek dynasty of the Ptolemies was the successor to the native Pharaohs, exploiting through a highly organized bureaucracy the great natural resources of the Nile Valley”. *The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Cleopatra VII was born to Ptolemy XII Auletes (80–57 BC, ruled 55–51 BC) and Cleopatra, both parents being Macedonian Greeks." *Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt by Kathryn Bard, page 488 “Ptolemaic kings were still crowned at Memphis and the city was popularly regarded as the Egyptian rival to Alexandria, founded by the Macedonian Greeks”; Page 687: "During the Ptolemaic period, when Egypt was governed by rulers of Greek descent…” *Cleopatra: A Sourcebook (Oklahoma Series in Classical Culture) by Prudence J. Jones (Author) page14: “They were members of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Macedonian Greeks, who ruled Egypt after the death of its conqueror, Alexander the Great.” *Women in Hellenistic Egypt by Sarah B. Pomeroy, page 16 “while Ptolemaic Egypt was a monarchy with a Greek ruling class."
- Cleopatra: the life of an Egyptian queen By Gary Jeffrey, Anita Ganeri page 6 :” Throughout their dynasty, the Ptolemies held onto their Greek culture and continued to speak Greek as their main language.”.
- "Radio 4 Programmes - A History of the World in 100 Objects, Empire Builders (300 BC - 1 AD), Rosetta Stone". BBC. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
- Plutarch, Antony 27
- "Cleopatra VII". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
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- "Kleopatros: Meaning & History". Behind the Name.com. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- Fletcher, Joann (2008). Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend. New York: Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-058558-7, image plates and captions between pp. 246-247.
- Huss, Werner (1990). "Die Herkunft der Kleopatra Philopator". Aegyptus. 70 (1/2): 191–203. doi:10.2307/41216791. assumes instead that Cleopatra's mother was a high-born Egyptian woman who possibly had become the second wife of Ptolemy XII after he had repudiated Cleopatra V.
- Valerius Maximus 4.1.15
- Anderson, Jaynie (2003). Tiepolo's Cleopatra. Macmillan Education AU. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-876832-44-5.
- Peter Green (1990), Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 661–664, ISBN 0-520-05611-6
- Parallel Lives - The Life of Julius Caesar, 49
- So dramatic is the report of Plutarch (Caesar 49.1–3) that it is doubted by some scholars. Cleopatra had to be smuggled in secretly because Ptolemy XIII had blocked all entries to Alexandria, making it impossible for his half-sister to come into the city.
- "Cleopatra VII". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
- De Bello Alexandrino28–32
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 42.43
- De Bello Alexandrino 33
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 42.44
- Suetonius, Caesar 35.1
- Suetonius, Caesar 76.3
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 43.27.3
- Cicero, Letters to Atticus 15.15.2
- Appian, Civil Wars 2.102.424
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 51.22.3
- Cicero (Letters to Atticus 14.8.1, written on 16 April 44 BC) says that he was very glad that the Queen fled.
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 15.89
- Porphyry, Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (FGrH) 260 F 2, 16-17
- stele BM 377 (15 February 42 BC) and others
- Appian, Civil Wars 4.61.262–263
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 47.30.4 and 47.31.5
- Appian, Civil Wars 4.63; 4.74; 4.82; 5.8
- Plutarch, Life of Antony 25-29; Appian, Civil Wars 5.8-11; Cassius Dio, Roman History 48.24
- BBC documentary, Cleopatra portrait of a killer
- Appian, Civil Wars 5.9.35
- Syme, p. 270.
- Syme, p. 274.
- Stanley Mayer Burstein (30 December 2007), The Reign of Cleopatra, University of Oklahoma Press, p. 20, ISBN 978-0-8061-3871-8, retrieved 31 March 2011
- Plutarch, Life of Antony 54.9
- 'Actium', The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, third edition, edited by M. C. Howatson. Oxford University, 2011.
- "Alexander the Great, King of Macedon". Archaeology. July 16, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Ullman, Berthold L. (1957), "Cleopatra's Pearls", The Classical Journal, 52 (5): 193–201.
- Strabo, Geography, XVII 10
- Note that an unnamed editor of the respected Loeb Classical Library translation stated that the "twin snakes" mentioned in the text are simply a "symbol of death."Virgil, Aeneid, VIII 696–697
- Horace, Odes, I 37
- Sextus Propertius, Elegies, III 11
- Florus, Epitome of Roman History, II 21
- Velleius Paterculus, Compendium of Roman History, II 87
- For a possible poetic allusion to the asp, see Wallace Stevens' In the Carolinas
- Everitt, Anthony (2007), Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor, New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, pp. 194–195, ISBN 0-8129-7058-6
- Melissa Gray (2010-06-30). "Poison, not snake, killed Cleopatra, scholar says - Cleopatra died a quiet and pain free death, historian alleges". CNN. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
- Plutarch, Life of Antony 79.6 and 85.4–6; Cassius Dio, Roman History 51.11.4–5 and 51.13.3–5
- Plutarch, Parallel Lives, LXXXV 2–3 (Life of Antony)
- Plutarch, ibid., LXXXVI 3. See also Cassius Dio, Roman History, LI 21
- Suetonius, On the Life of the Caesars, Augustus, XVII 4
- Plutarch, loc. cit.
- Cassius Dio, op. cit., LI 14
- Galen, De Theriaca ad Pisonem, CCXXXVII, who says she bit herself, rather than an asp biting her.
- Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, V ii
- "Cleopatra". The Walters Art Museum.
- Plutarch, ibid.
- "Dig 'may reveal' Cleopatra's tomb". BBC News. 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Plutarch, Life of Antony 81.4 – 82.1; Cassius Dio, Roman History 51.15.5; Suetonius, Augustus 17.5
- Plutarch, Life of Antony 87.1–2; Cassius Dio, Roman History 51.15.6; Suetonius, Augustus 17.5 and Caligula 26.1
- "The Beauty of Cleopatra". University of Chicago. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
- Ashton, Sally-Ann (2008). Cleopatra and Egypt. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-1390-8, pp. 83-85.
- Polo, Francisco Pina (2013). "The Great Seducer: Cleopatra, Queen and Sex Symbol" in Silke Knippschild and Marta Garcia Morcillo (eds), Seduction and Power: Antiquity in the Visual and Performing Arts, 183-197. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-44119-065-9, pp. 186, 194 footnote #10.
- "She could pass from one language to another; so that there were few of the barbarian nations that she answered by an interpreter; to most of them she spoke herself, as to the Ethiopians, Troglodytes, Hebrews, Arabians, Syrians, Medes, Parthians, and many others, whose language she had learnt; which was all the more surprising because most of the kings, her predecessors, scarcely gave themselves the trouble to acquire the Egyptian tongue, and several of them quite abandoned the Macedonian." Plutarch, Antony, 27.3-4
- Roller, Duane W. (2010). Cleopatra: a biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195365535, p. 176.
- Varner, Eric R. (2004). Mutilation and Transformation: Damnatio Memoriae and Roman Imperial Portraiture. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-13577-4, p. 20.
- Grout, James (April 1, 2017). "Basalt Statue of Cleopatra". Encyclopaedia Romana. University of Chicago. Accessed 7 March 2018.
- Roller, Duane W. (2010). Cleopatra: a biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195365535, p. 175.
- Ashton, Sally-Ann (2008). Cleopatra and Egypt. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-1390-8, p. 83.
- Kleiner, Diana E. E. (2005). Cleopatra and Rome. Cambridge, MA: the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01905-9, p. 144.
- Walker, Susan; Higgs, Peter (2017) . "Portrait Head". British Museum (collection online). Accessed 6 March 2018.
- Polo, Francisco Pina (2013). "The Great Seducer: Cleopatra, Queen and Sex Symbol" in Silke Knippschild and Marta Garcia Morcillo (eds), Seduction and Power: Antiquity in the Visual and Performing Arts, 183-197. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-44119-065-9, pp. 185-186.
- Kleiner, Diana E. E. (2005). Cleopatra and Rome. Cambridge, MA: the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01905-9, p. 155.
- Kleiner, Diana E. E. (2005). Cleopatra and Rome. Cambridge, MA: the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01905-9, pp. 155-156.
- Roller, Duane W. (2010). Cleopatra: a biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195365535, pp. 175-176
- Ashton, Sally-Ann (Spring 2002). "Identifying the ROM's "Cleopatra"". Routunda. Toronto: 39.
- Ashton, Sally-Ann (Spring 2002). "Identifying the ROM's "Cleopatra"". Routunda. Toronto: 36.
- Kleiner, Diana E. E. (2005). Cleopatra and Rome. Cambridge, MA: the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01905-9, p. 87.
- Roller, Duane W. (2010). Cleopatra: a biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195365535, pp. 176-177.
- Polo, Francisco Pina (2013). "The Great Seducer: Cleopatra, Queen and Sex Symbol" in Silke Knippschild and Marta Garcia Morcillo (eds), Seduction and Power: Antiquity in the Visual and Performing Arts, 183-197. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-44119-065-9, p. 194 footnote #11.
- Walker, Susan. "Cleopatra in Pompei?" in Papers of the British School at Rome, 76 (2008), pp. 35-46 and 345-8 (35, 42-44).
- Plutarch (1920). Plutarch's Lives, translated by Bernadotte Perrin, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd., p. 9.
- Sartain, John (1885). On the Antique Painting in Encaustic of Cleopatra: Discovered in 1818. Philadelphia: George Gebbie & Co., pp. 41, 44.
- Walker, Susan. "Cleopatra in Pompei?" in Papers of the British School at Rome, 76 (2008), pp. 35-46 and 345-8 (35, 44).
- Walker, Susan. "Cleopatra in Pompei?" in Papers of the British School at Rome, 76 (2008), pp. 35-46 and 345-8 (40).
- The observation that the left cheek of the Vatican Cleopatra bust once had a cupid's hand that was broken off was first suggested by Ludwig Curtius in 1933. Diana E. E. Kleiner concurs with this assessment. See Kleiner, Diana E. E. (2005). Cleopatra and Rome. Cambridge, MA: the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01905-9, p. 153.
- Walker, Susan. "Cleopatra in Pompei?" in Papers of the British School at Rome, 76 (2008), pp. 35-46 and 345-8 (43-44).
- Pratt, Frances; Fizel, Becca (1949). Encaustic Materials and Methods. New York: Lear, pp. 14-15.
- Pratt, Frances; Fizel, Becca (1949). Encaustic Materials and Methods. New York: Lear, p. 14.
- Pratt, Frances; Fizel, Becca (1949). Encaustic Materials and Methods. New York: Lear, p. 15.
- Gallagher, Kristen. "Discoveries in Encaustic: a Look Through History", in The Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities for the State of North Carolina, Vol. 6 (2011), pp. 73-85 (75). ISBN 9780984592272 098459227X.
- Dodson, Aidan and Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3 The family tree and short discussions of the individuals can be found on pages 268-281. The authors refer to Cleopatra V as Cleopatra VI and Cleopatra Selene of Syria is called Cleopatra V Selene.
- Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life, Hachette Digital, Inc., 2010, ISBN 978-0-316-00192-2 Google Books
- HSC Ancient History, By Peter Roberts, pg 125, at https://books.google.co.za/books?id=Krh7n9AyS40C&pg=PA129&dq=arsinoe+iv&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYz-KfxrzOAhXEAsAKHbaGD2MQ6AEILDAD#v=onepage&q=arsinoe%20iv&f=false
|Library resources about
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- Hegesippus, Historiae i.29–32.
- Lucan, Bellum civile ix.909–911, x.
- Macrobius, Saturnalia iii.17.14–18.
- Orosius, Historiae adversus paganos vi.16.1–2, 19.4–18.
- Pliny, Naturalis historia vii.2.14, ix.58.119–121, xxi.9.12.
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- Modern sources
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|Wikinews has related news: Egyptian archaeologist finds artifacts which may lead to Cleopatra's tomb|
- Cleopatra on In Our Time at the BBC.
- Cleopatra, a Victorian children's book by Jacob Abbott, 1852, Project Gutenberg edition
- "Mysterious Death of Cleopatra" at the Discovery Channel
- Cleopatra VII at BBC History
- Cleopatra VII at Ancient History Encyclopedia
CleopatraBorn: 69 BC Died: 30 BC
|Queen of Egypt
with Ptolemy XII,
Ptolemy XIV and
Ptolemy XV Caesarion
Egypt annexed by Roman Republic