Cleopatra VII Philopator was the last person to rule Egypt as an Egyptian pharaoh – after she died, Egypt became a Roman province. She was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt. Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she also married, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name. After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Her unions with her brothers produced no children. After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC. She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh, but he was soon killed on Octavian's orders. Egypt became the Roman province of Aegyptus. Though Cleopatra bore the ancient Egyptian title of pharaoh, the Ptolemaic dynasty was Hellenistic, having been founded 300 years before by Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general of Alexander the Great. As such, Cleopatra's language was the Greek spoken by the Hellenic aristocracy, though she was reputed to be the first ruler of the dynasty to learn Egyptian. She also adopted common Egyptian beliefs and deities. Her patron goddess was Isis, and thus, during her reign, it was believed that she was the re-incarnation and embodiment of the goddess of wisdom. Her death marked the end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Hellenistic period and the beginning of the Roman era in the eastern Mediterranean. To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture. Her legacy survives in numerous works of art and the many dramatizations of her story in literature and other media, including William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, Jules Massenet's opera Cléopâtre and the 1963 film Cleopatra. In most depictions, Cleopatra is put forward as a great beauty and her successive conquests of the world's most powerful men are taken to be proof of her aesthetic and sexual appeal. In his Pensées, philosopher Blaise Pascal contends that Cleopatra's classically beautiful profile changed world history: "Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed."
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 or cousin and wife of Ptolemy XII, or possibly another Ptolemaic family member who was the daughter of Ptolemy X and Cleopatra Berenice III Philopator if Cleopatra V was not the daughter of Ptolemy X and Berenice III. Cleopatra's father Auletes was a direct descendant of Alexander the Great's general, Ptolemy I Soter, son of Arsinoe and Lacus, both of Macedon. Centralization of power and corruption led to uprisings in and the losses of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, making Ptolemy's reign one of the most calamitous of the dynasty. When 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 she could assume sole rulership. Regardless of the cause, she did until Ptolemy Auletes returned in 55 BC, with Roman support, capturing Alexandria aided by 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....
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