In 51 BC, Cleopatra assumed power at the age of 17. She was required
to marry so she took her brother, Ptolemy XIII, as her husband.
He was only 12 by that time. Cleopatra soon dropped him from official
documents and regarded herself as the sole ruler.
Few years later, Ptolemy XIII challenged his sister-wife in order
to oust her. Two court officials, Pothinus and Achilles, helped
Cleopatra was alarmed in time so she fled to Syria, then she returned
at Pelusium and was on standby.
Meanwhile, Julius Caesar was fighting Pompey,
a Roman leader, and he finally defeated his army at Parsalus in
48 BC. Pompey headed Alexandria,
seeking the help of Ptolemy XIII. He was killed on his arrival.
Julius Caesar arrived 4 days later to Alexandria with big forces
that in one way or another was considered provocative to Alexandrians.
Cleopatra was smuggled in a carpet to the royal palace where Caesar
was placed. She then became Caesar's lover and he wanted to make
her the sole ruler of Egypt.
Ptolemy XIII realized what was happening between them and he called
out for help from the Alexandrians.
So the Alexandrian war erupted between the forces of Ptolemy XIII
and those of Caesar's. During the war Ptolemy drowned in the Nile
while he was escaping.
Consequently Cleopatra was made the queen of Egypt and the sole ruler.
Her relation with Caesar was strengthened. But she once again had
to marry her other brother Ptolemy XIV.
Meantime, she bore Caesar a child, Ptolemy XV Caesarion. Caesar
left Egypt to Syria before the birth of his child. He then returned
to Rome where he was received as a hero and celebrations were kicked
off to mark his victories.
Caesar then brought Cleopatra to Rome and treated her gracefully
enough to incite his foes.
In 44 BC, Caesar was killed by senate members while Cleopatra was
still in Rome. She went back in Egypt in panic and killed her brother-husband,
Ptolemy XIV. Cleopatra appointed Ptolemy XV Caesarion, her son,
as her coregent when he was only 4 years old.
She had to observe events at Rome to know who would rise to be powerful
after Caesar's death.
Octavian (later to be called Augustus) and Mark
Antony appeared in the Roman arena. She found Mark Antony as her goal
and wanted to attract him. So she did. She met him in Egypt, and he
felt in love with her and they spent winters of 41 and 40 BC together.
When Antony left Egypt in 40 BC to Rome, he married Octavian's sister,
Octavia. Meanwhile Cleopatra bore him twins.
Antony went to Antioch and called for Cleopatra. He honored her
by giving her more land to annex to the Egyptian Empire, and furthermore
he recognized her sons as his, and gave them royal names. They got
another child and he finally divorced Octavia.
The special relationship between Mark Antony and Cleopatra provoked
Romans as they feared that Antony might take over the eastern part
of the Roman Empire. Octavian exploited this feeling and convinced
the Roman senate to finally declare the war against Cleopatra. This
was to avoid direct enmity with Antony, prominent Roman who still
got allies among the senate members.
Cleopatra commits suicide
In 31 BC Octavian marched to Alexandria and in
the battle of Actium his navy defeated Antony's. Antony had to commit
suicide in 30 BC.
Octavian made some contacts with Cleopatra but he rejected any possible
reconciliation with her. Fearing humiliation, Cleopatra also committed
suicide by a cobra snakebite on August 12, 30 BC, to end the story
of a legend.
This marked the fall of Egypt under the Roman Empire and a start of
the new era in Egypt and a new culture, i.e. the Roman