Cleopatra VII Philopator (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ; 69 – August 12, 30 BC), Cleopatra, was the last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic 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 family of Macedonian Greek 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 Egyptian, which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian languages 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 and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesa rthat solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated Caesarion, her son with Caesar, 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 Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene IIand 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 tradition, 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.
Her legacy survives in numerous works of art and many dramatizations of incidents from her life in literature and other media, such as William Shakespeare‘s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, George Bernard Shaw‘s play Caesar and Cleopatra, Jules Massenet‘s opera Cléopâtre, and the films Cleopatra (1934) and Cleopatra(1963).