Ascension To Throne
Cleopatra’s family ruled Egypt for more than 300 years. Cleopatra’s joint rule with her father was a very short one but was strong enough to secure herself as a contender for the Egyptian throne(Sally-Ann Ashton,2008,p.72).After her father’s death the Egyptian throne passed to 18-year-old Cleopatra and her 10-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII. Cleopatra being concerned with the historic culture of Egypt devoted effort to make herself a ruler which was shown not only by her visit to Hermonthis but her deep involvement in the burial rites of the Apis bull in 50/49 B.C. During her early rule Egypt had many economic problems as her father borrowed considerably from the roman empire to maintain his throne as a king including problems like the annual inundation of the river Nile as Egypt at that time was more or less dependent on rivers for cultivation(Sally-Ann Ashton,2008,p.52).The food shortage was so great that it greatly affected the cities and so Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra made a decree to solve this problem in 50 B.C.E and as a result the problem was solved to some extent. Cleopatra early in her reign initiated an important change by debasing the silver coinage and at the royal mint in Alexandria the bronze coins production was reintroduced (Sally-Ann Ashton,2008,p.52).It was actually thought that no marriage ceremony took place between Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra and they jointly ruled together(Sally-Ann Ashton,2008,p.42). Cleopatra was known to the Egyptians as the daughter of Ra. Cleopatra liked being worshipped and she also liked statues of herself like the goddess Isis(Haydn Middleton,1997,p.08). But the Egyptians brothers and sisters used to marry each other as they used to worship a goddess called Isis who was married to her brother Osiris and so many scholars believed that Cleopatra was the also the wife of her brother Ptolemy XIII.Some eastern holy books claims that a mysterious woman would rule Egypt and then the whole world and so Cleopatra hoped that to be herself.But from the beginning the rule was frought with problems between her ten year old brother and herself.Ptolemy XIII had some powerful advisors named Pothinus, Achillas, and Theodotus of Chios and the military commander Achillas who committed to making him sole monarch(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.42).They jointly contrived to oust Cleopatra from the throne because Cleopatra was trying to make good relationship with Rome and they didn’t want Egypt to be ruled by a woman as they believed that only a man knew how to rule although Egyptians had no problems being ruled by a female monarch as they had accepted the earlier reigns od Egyptians queens.It was actually the romans who had problems with the idea of female monarch.But Cleopatra was determined that she can prove all of them wrong.When Cleopatra was ousted her brother was the sole ruler and in 49 B.C(Sally-Ann Ashton,2008,p.42). He begin his own regnal dating, equating his Year 1 with Year 3 of Cleopatra .By that time Cleopatra retreated upriver to the region around Thebes, perhaps seeking the historic heartland of Egypt but that didn’t work well and so by 48 b.c she went to Syria for accumulating a huge army and she was accompanied by her younger sister Arsinoe. A few months later Cleopatra tried to return to Egypt with an army but her way was blocked by her brother and so remained in a position near the eastern Delta city of Pelousion.Julius Caesar,a roman leader who had led the Roman army to many victories then arrived Alexandria with the motive to get paid back the money he lent to Cleopatra’s father.Ptolemy XIII welcomed the Julius Caesar to Alexandria.Caesar when knew that Cleopatra and her brother argued wanted to bring temporary peace by solving the problem and he called both of them.Cleopatra soon realized that in order to get back into power she needed Caesar’s support.Ptolemy came along with his advisors but his advisors blocked and put guards in caesar’s palace to stop Cleopatra from getting in but Cleopatra would not be put off and so she dressed in her finest and accompanied by her friend Apollodorus the Sicilian and she started for Alexandria in a small boat.Reaching there she saw no way of getting in she stretched herself out at full length in a stromatodesmon to be smuggled past the roman gaurds by Apollodorus which was sent as a present to Caesar and when Caesar enrolled it inside his palace out jumped the queen at his feet(Haydn Middleton,1997,p.11). Some historians believe that Ceasar was very amused by this brilliant strategy of Cleopatra.Soon Ptolemy realized that Cleopatra and Caesar formed a strong alliance which could not be broken so he refused to rule with Cleopatra and so Caesar led the romans in a war with him know as the Alexandrian war in which Ptolemy drowned in the Nile while trying to flee and ponthinus was executed.Thus Cleopatra was put back on the throne as the sole ruler of Egypt.After that Cleopatra’s got married to her younger brother Ptolemy XIV and thus continued her reign.
Figure: Bronze coin of Cleopatra VII. Diademed portrait of Cleopatra, holding her son Ptolemy XV, Caesarion. British Museum, London(Margaret M. Miles,2011,p.56)
Power Struggle of Cleopatra
After Caesar’s death according to his will his nineteen year old great nephew,Gaius Octavius Thurinus, was declared his successor.His claim to the throne did not set well as Cleopatra seen it as a slap on the face as he was not the Caesar’s biological son and also Mark Antony opposed it.Cleopatra tried to recognize Caesarion as the emperor’s legal heir but coudn’t achieve her goal and so she fled back to Egypt and assainated her brother Ptolemy XIV and made her four year old son Caesarion as her coregent(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.62).Octavian and Mark Antony never trusted each other but later on at one point they made an agreement that Octavian would take charge of all the western land and Antony would take the east.Before Caesar’s death,Antony had been planning to invade Parthian Empire and Antony decided to make it happen and thus winning everlasting fame(Haydn Middleton,1997,p.14).But he had to pay his armies to do that and so he invited Cleopatra to meet and talk to him at Tarsus as she was rich.Cleopatra also needed Antony’s help to make her dream of building a new Egyptian Empire come true.Dressed as Venus,the Roman goddess of love she came to meet Antony at Tarsus,with the motive to win Antony’s heart.Antony and Cleopatra liked each other in many ways as they had very similar motives and future dreams(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.65).Cleopatra did not only agreed to help Antony to fight the mighty Parthians but also invited to visit Alexandria.Cleopatra also gave him many feast in Alexandria and talked about coming war.Then Antony had to return back to Rome for there was a quarrel between him and Octavian.Antony kept putting off the invasion of Parthia but as Cleopatra made a soft corner at his heart and at one time he went Egypt and married her.They had three children of them the first two were name Helios(son god) and Selene(moon god)( Haydn Middleton,1997,p.18).Antony considered himself as a kind of human god and that Dionysus, was his special protector who was a Greek god of wine and dancing.Then Antony was ready to fight the war and marched with his armies in the east and thought if he could beat the Parthians he would lead his man against Octavian to prove himself as the true master of Rome.The Parthians army was very deadly in the war with their arches and Antony also knew that it would be hard to beat them and in the end Parthians proved to be too much for Antony and his army.When Antony realized that they can not win he led back his surviving man.But Cleopatra raised his spirits by making him realize all the future dreams they had to accomplish. After a humiliating defeat in Parthia, his wife Octavia’s efforts to rejoin him was publicly rejected by Antony and he returned back to Cleopatra in Egypt. In 32–31 b.c., Antony divorced Octavia,who was octavian’s sister(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.76). A public celebration was held in 34 B.C. known as the “Donations of Alexandria” where he declared Caesarion as the son of Julius Caesar, and named him “King of Kings” and Cleopatra as “Queen of Kings” and the other children were also called rulers too and also awarded land to each of his children and Cleopatra. Hearing about this donations Octavian became furious because he knew that Cleopatra always wanted an Empire for Egypt and he couldn’t let Cleopatra take it simply from Rome. He claimed that Antony was entirely under Cleopatra’s control and would abandon Rome and found a new capital in Egypt. In late 32 B.C., the Roman Senate stripped Antony of all his titles, and Octavian declared war on Cleopatra known as the battle of Actium where Octavian crowned himself Augustus by becoming the first Roman emperor and by defeating Antony and his army.A rumour spread all around that Cleopatra died and hearing the rumour Antony stabbed himself and died(Haydn Middleton,1997,p.29).
Figure:Actium Battle(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.78).
Cleopatra was taken to Octavian after Antony died.She wanted to negotiate by surrendering herself to octavian but on her own terms but unlike Caesar and Antony,Octavian had no interest in Cleopatra to make any relationship or reconciliation negotiation with her.Instead,she would be paraded as a slave in the cities and places where once she ruled as a queen and Cleopatra knew very well that she would be treated the same way as her sister Arsenoe was treated by marching through Rome in chains(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.81).So when Octavian’s men reached her mausoleum she refused to admit Octavian and started to bargain with them by demanding her kingdom to be divided among her children who were also taken as prisoners but they were treated well.Octavian ordered one of his men to to keep her talking while commanded others to climb through the window by setting up ladders.Seeing soldiers, she instantly tried to kill her but couldn’t as they managed to disarm her and made her prisoner.Less out of respect for the queen of Egypt and her love relationship with Caesar whom all Rome once revered and respected,Octavian let Cleopatra to arrange Mark Antony’s funeral(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.82).With all the pomp and splendor due a king,Cleopatra buried her husband Antony.She then took to her bed and however she wanted to kill herself but octavian kept her in so close guards that she couldn’t. One day when Octavian visited her she flung herself at his feet and she was nearly naked and she said she wanted to live so to lull Octavian into a false sense of security.Later,taking permission from Octavian’s,she visited Antony’s tomb.Then she went to the mausoleum, bathed, and ordered to prepare a feast.One of her servants visited her with a basket of figs while the food was being made ready.The guards checked the basket and found nothing suspicious and so they allowed the man to deliver it to Cleopatra.After Cleopatra had eaten her meal she wrote a letter to be sent to Octavian where she requested to be buried beside her husband Antony.Octavian soon made her gaurds alert and as they reached her room they found the queen dead on her golden bed along with her maid Iras dead at her feet and another maid Charmion, was weakly adjusting Cleopatra’s crown. It was August 12, 30 B.C.,and Cleopatra had been only 39 years old. Later, two pricks or bites were found on Cleopatra’s arm which led her examiners to believe that she had allowed herself to be bitten by a poisonous snake that had been brought in with the figs(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.83).The snake, an asp, was holy to Ra(Haydn Middleton,1997,p.31).Cleopatra was mummified and buried beside her beloved Antony(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.83).
Figure:Dead Cleopatra along with her two maids(Ron Miller and Sommer Browning,2008,p.83).