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Cleopatra, detail of a bas relief, c. 69–30 BC; in the Temple of Hathor, Dandarah, —Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago
(born 69died Aug. 30, 30 BC, Alexandria) Egyptian queen (of Macedonian descent), last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. Daughter of Ptolemy XII (b. 112?d. 51 BC), she ruled with her two brother-husbands, Ptolemy XIII (r. 51–47) and Ptolemy XIV (r. 47–44), both of whom she had killed, and with her son, Ptolemy XV, or Caesarion (r. 44–30). She claimed the latter was fathered by Julius Caesar, who had become her lover after entering Egypt in 48 BC in pursuit of Pompey. She was with Caesar in Rome when he was assassinated (44), after which she returned to Egypt to install her son on the throne. She lured Mark Antony, Caesar's heir apparent, into marriage (36), inviting the wrath of Octavian (later Augustus), whose sister Antony had earlier wed. She schemed against and antagonized Antony's friend Herod the Great, thereby losing his support. At a magnificent celebration in Alexandria after Antony's Parthian campaign (36–34), he bestowed Roman lands on his foreign wife and family. Octavian declared war on Cleopatra and Antony and defeated their joint forces at the Battle of Actium (31). Antony committed suicide and, after a failed attempt to beguile Octavian, so, too, did Cleopatra, possibly by means of an asp.
Variants of CLEOPATRA
Cleopatra in full Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Cleopatra, visit Britannica.com.