hen Cleopatra VII ascended the Egyptian throne, she was only seventeen. She reigned as Pharaoh between 51 and 30 BC and died at the age of 39. Cleopatra's father,
Ptolemy XII,had to pay tribute to the Romans to keep them away from his Kingdom. Upon his death, the fall of the Dynasty seemed close. According to Egyptian law, Cleopatra was forced to have a husband, who was either a brother or a son, no matter what age, throughout her reign. She was married to her younger brother Ptolemy XIIIwhen he was twelve.
Julius Caesar visited Alexandria in
48 BCand during his stay he received the most famous gift in history: an oriental carpet... with a 22 year oldCleopatra wrapped in it. She and her brother/husband were fighting over control of the throne and she counted on Caesar's support to alienate Ptolemy XIII.With the arrival of Roman reinforcements, and after a few battles in Alexandria, Ptolemy XIIIwas defeated and killed.
In the summer of
47 BC,having married her younger brother Ptolemy XIV,Cleopatra and Caesar embarked for a two month trip along the Nile. They became lovers and she bore him a son, Caesarion. In 45 BCCleopatra and Caesarion left Alexandria for Rome where they stayed in a palace built by Caesar in their honor.
In 44 BC Caesar was killed in a conspiracy by his Senators. Rome was now split between supporters of Mark Antony and those of Octavian. When Mark Antony seemed to prevail Cleopatra supported him and, shortly after, they too became lovers.
Mark Antony's alliance with Cleopatra angered Rome and the senators called her a sorceress, accusing her of all sorts of evil. Eventually Octavian declared war on Cleopatra and in
31 BC,off the coast of Greece, they met in one of the most famous battles in history: Actium. The Egyptian forces were defeated and Octavian claimed Egypt as a Roman province. He arrived in Alexandria and easily defeated Mark Antony outside the city, near present day Camp CÚsar. Antony was taken to Cleopatra where he died in her arms and was buried as a King.
Octavian entered Alexandria in
30 BC.Cleopatra was captured and taken to him, but the Roman Emperor had no interest in any relation, reconciliation, or even negotiation with the Egyptian Queen. Realizing that her end was close, she decided to put an end to her life. It is not known for sure how she killed herself, but many believe she used an asp as her death instrument. With the death of Cleopatra, a whole era in Egyptian history was closed. Alexandria remained capital of Egypt, but Egypt was now a Roman province.
The age of Egyptian Monarchs gave way to the age of Roman Emperors, and Cleopatra's death gave way to the rise of Rome. The Ptolemies were of Macedonian descent, yet they ruled Egypt as Egyptians - as Pharaohs. Indeed Cleopatra spoke the Egyptian language and shared some of their religious beliefs. She was to be the last Pharaoh.