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  • Cleopatra reinstated as Queen of Egypt, on March 27, 47 BC.

    Beatriz Camino

    Cleopatra reinstated as Queen of Egypt, on March 27, 47 BC.

    On this day in 47 BC, Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (born 70/69 BC—died August 30 BC, Alexandria) regained her position as co-ruler of Egypt alongside her brother Ptolemy XIV, with the support of Julius Caesar.

    Early Life & Succession

    Cleopatra VII Philopator, born in 69 BC, initially shared rulership with her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes. When she was 18 years old, her father died, leaving her the throne. However, because Egyptian tradition held that a woman needed a male consort to reign, her brother, Ptolemy XIII, was ceremonially married to her. Despite this, she swiftly asserted her authority, excluding his name from official records and ruling independently.

    Unlike her predecessors, who maintained a stance of Macedonian-Greek superiority and remained aloof from Egyptian customs and language, Cleopatra spoke Egyptian and Greek fluently and possessed command over other languages. This facilitated direct diplomacy with foreign envoys, enabling her to navigate matters of state without intermediary translation. Her decisive nature, however, alienated some within her court. In 48 BC, her chief advisor Pothinus, orchestrated her overthrow and installed Ptolemy XIII on the throne, forcing Cleopatra and her half-sister Arsinoe to seek refuge in Thebaid.

    Around this tumultuous period, Pompey the Great was defeated by Julius Caesar at the Battle of Pharsalus and fled to Egypt. However, Ptolemy XIII’s advisors had him killed. Outraged by this, Caesar assumed control of the royal palace, prompting Ptolemy XIII’s flight to Pelusium. Cleopatra, recognising an opportunity to regain power, ingeniously presented herself to Caesar by entering the palace concealed within a rug. This bold manoeuvre captured his admiration and sparked a profound connection between them. By the time Ptolemy XIII confronted Caesar, they had already become lovers, inciting the young pharaoh’s fury, who declared war on the Roman forces.

    Reinstatement as Queen

    During the civil war, Cleopatra’s half-sister, Arsinoe fled to the enemy’s camp and declared herself queen of Egypt. However, the Roman army eventually imposed itself on Ptolemy, who met his demise in a failed attempt to flee across the Nile. Soon afterwards, Arsinoe was captured and exiled to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus until her execution in 41 BC. Caesar then declared Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIV joint rulers.
    After the end of the war, the queen travelled through Egypt alongside Caesar and was hailed as Pharaoh. In 47 BC, she bore him a son, Ptolemy Caesar (known as Caesarion), whom she proclaimed as her heir. A year later, Caesar returned to Rome and brought Cleopatra and their son to reside there. Despite openly acknowledging Caesarion as his offspring, though not his successor, and Cleopatra as his consort, Caesar’s actions elicited disapproval from the Senate and the public due to his existing marriage to Calpurnia and strict Roman laws against bigamy.

    Following Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC, Cleopatra retreated from Rome to Alexandria with Caesarion. Meanwhile, Caesar’s trusted ally, Mark Antony, allied with Octavian and Lepidus to hunt down and defeat Caesar’s assassins. After their victory at the Battle of Philippi, where Antony and Octavian vanquished Brutus and Cassius, Antony assumed control of the eastern provinces, including Egypt, while Octavian held sway in the west.

    In 41 BC, Cleopatra was summoned by Antony to Tarsus to address allegations of aiding Brutus and Cassius. Displaying her regal independence, she deliberately delayed her arrival and compliance with Antony’s summons, asserting her sovereignty as Queen of Egypt. Upon encountering her, Antony was captivated, and they swiftly became lovers, embarking on a relationship that endured for a decade. Cleopatra bore him three children—Cleopatra Selene II, Alexander Helios, and Ptolemy Philadelphus—while he considered her his spouse, despite his prior marriages to Fulvia and later Octavia, Octavian’s sister. Eventually, Antony divorced Octavia to formalize his union with Cleopatra.

    Civil War & Death

    The gradual deterioration of Antony’s relationship with Octavian occurred during this period, fuelled by the latter’s growing outrage over Antony’s behaviour, notably his disrespect towards Octavian’s sister and himself. This deterioration extended to both their personal and professional spheres, ultimately culminating in a civil war.

    Despite several victories, Cleopatra and Antony eventually faced defeat at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. A year later, they both committed suicide. After receiving a false report of Cleopatra’s death, Antony stabbed himself, only to learn later that she was still alive. Octavian allowed him to be brought to Cleopatra, where he died in her arms.

    Subsequently, Octavian demanded an audience with Cleopatra to communicate the terms of her defeat. Realizing she couldn’t manipulate Octavian, the queen chose to end her life by allowing herself to be bitten by a snake, traditionally believed to be an asp. Octavian then ordered the murder of her son, Caesarion, and took custody of her children with Antony, who were raised by Octavia, Octavian's sister, marking the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

    Cleopatra’s legacy has endured through centuries, with countless depictions of her life in various media. Despite this, she is often remembered more for her relationships with powerful men than for her accomplishments. However, she ruled Egypt independently for 22 years, adhering to the concept of ma'at, striving for balance and harmony in her reign.


    Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Marc Antony, as Rulers of the East (37-30 BC). AR denarius★ RRRR! ★ CLEOPATRA, MARCUS ANTONIUS, RRC 543/1, Date 32 BC, Silver Denarius Alexandria EgyptCleopatra and Marc Antony AR denarius

    PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Kleopatra VII Thea Neotera. 51-30 BC. Æ Diobol With full legand.PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Kleopatra VII Thea Neotera. 51-30 BC. Æ Obol – 40 Drachmai .Excellent portraitMARK ANTONY and CLEOPATRA (34 BC). Denarius. Military Mint traveling with M. Antony.


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