Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator
I didn’t always rule in peace. My name is Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator and I was born into Egypt’s royal family, the Ptolemies, during the reign of my father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, in Alexandria, Egypt. My father Ptolemy XII Auletes was the king of Egypt and my mother, Cleopatra V, was the queen of Egypt. I had four siblings, two brothers and two sisters, who I never got along with since we all wanted the throne to ourselves. My younger brother was Ptolemy XIII and was next in line for the throne and my youngest brother, Ptolemy XIV, was to rule after him. My childhood was very hard and difficult because I grew up in a royal family. There was corruption in Egypt at the time and everyone wanted to take the throne for themselves, so many of my family members were assassinated, which made me fear that I would be killed as well one day. Since I was a woman I wasn’t treated equally as men which infuriated me and this is why I dreamed of becoming the Queen as a child. I went through many tough and terrible moments in my childhood, but coming from a royal family I was also privileged. Unlike others, I got to attend royal ceremonies and was spoiled with extravagant gifts. Coming from a very wealthy family I also got a rare opportunity to receive an education, and since my father greatly valued education I was sent to study with the sophist, Philostratus, in Alexandria. He taught me many things like nine languages and I used this knowledge later on in my life to influence the people of Egypt and to help me have control of Egypt. Growing up as a child all I wanted to become was the Queen of Egypt, and this opportunity came sooner than I thought.
I was eighteen years old, when my father was exiled from Egypt who also died the same year leaving behind the kingdom to me and my siblings. I became co-regent with my younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, who was ten years old at the time. To keep my royal family in rule of Egypt I had to marry my younger brother, but I was unhappy in this marriage. I wanted to take the throne for myself and rule alone without my brother as co-ruler, because I wanted to be the sole ruler of Egypt. Unfortunately my plans were uncovered by my brother’s advisors and my plan was spoiled. My brother began to feel threatened by my presence as a co-ruler and with his advisors he led a revolt against me and banished me from Alexandria, exiling me to Syria. I had my powers stripped from me which became a huge embarrassment, but that wasn’t going to be the end of my rule as a Queen, so I began to plan my revenge to regain the throne.
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After being banished I met Julius Caesar a year later in Egypt, who had come to talk with Pompey The Great who had fled to Egypt after the war. Knowing that I was in little to no power to fight against my brother for the throne, I needed support from someone who was powerful, like Julius Caesar. Since I needed his help, I decided to create a political alliance with him and to to do so I had to meet with him. I had to take this one and only opportunity to talk with Caesar, so I asked two of my friends to wrap me in a carpet and sneak me into his room. When Caesar opened the carpet I came out and began a conversation with him. I used my charming gifts and talents to seduce him into helping me and he was captivated by me. I then told him the story of my brother banishing me from Alexandria, and taking full control of Egypt, so I asked him for his help to regain the throne and in return I would give him some resources. Caesar who had fallen under my seduction agreed to help me take back the throne by defeating my brother. My charming personality won Caesar’s heart and I became his mistress. My new husband, Julius Caesar, used his army to defeat my brother, Ptolemy XIII, who ended up drowning while escaping the battle. As Caesar’s mistress he established me and my youngest brother, Ptolemy XIV, as the rulers of Egypt. After regaining my throne I married my brother to keep our royal family as the rulers of Egypt, but this was just another unhappy marriage that I wanted to get rid of so I could have Egypt all to myself.
When I was twenty-nine years old, I had a child with Caesar who we named Caesarion. He didn’t acknowledge our child as his son even though I kept persisting that Caesarion was, for Caesar didn’t know that my plan was for our son to inherit his land and properties so that I could take it for myself. Caesar still denied that Caesarion was his child but still invited me to go to Rome, so I went. We left for Rome and my son and brother accompanied us to stay for a while in a villa that belonged to Caesar. Julius Caesar declared himself as dictator and because of this he was killed few months later. I knew that my brother would try to take all the power and bring me down from the throne, so I plotted his death so that I could rule all by myself. I poisoned him with aconite while we were at the villa and declared my son as the new ruler. I then ruled as co-regent with my son but I was just controlling him while everyone looked to him as he was just the face of Egypt. I had become the sole ruler of Egypt but I knew that I still needed protection from a powerful ally who would protect me.
When Caesar died, his friend Mark Antony became the leader of his army and attacked attack the Parthian Empire, so he asked for my help to invade Tarsus. He needed resources to invade and I needed a powerful ally to protect me and Mark Antony was the perfect person to do so. I used my charming personality to seduce him into falling in love with me, and over time his love for me grew stronger and so he abandoned his plans to invade the Parthian Empire to come and live with me in Egypt. I used his love for me to plan my sister’s, Arsinoe IV, death for I feared that she would be a future threat who would try to take the throne from me. She was young and posed no threat to Mark Antony but he killed her because of his love for me. I lived a happy life with Mark Antony, until I became aware of what he was about to do later in his life.
When I was twenty-nine I had two children with Mark Antony who were twins. I had a daughter who we named Cleopatra Selene, and a son who we named Alexander Helios. At this time, Mark Antony left and went to Italy to make a peace treaty with Octavian, who was Julius Caesar’s adopted son. Octavian was Mark Antony rival and they need to establish peace with one another. They came to an agreement for Mark Antony to marry Octavia, who was Octavian’s sister. This marriage angered me and made me jealous but I knew that this was the best option for Antony and for the protection of Egypt.
Mark Antony and Octavia were in a relationship for three years until he decided that their relationship could not workout anymore, so he left her and resumed his invasion of the Parthian Empire. Mark Antony and I got married in Antioch after the invasion, not knowing that Antony was breaking a Roman law by doing this. Octavian saw this as a betrayal to Octavia, who was Mark Antony’s legal wife which angered Octavian who now wanted to go to war. Antony also gave portions of Roman territory to many different people which just ended up making Octavian even angrier. One year later we had another child who we named Ptolemy Philadelphus. Antony’s invasion of the Parthian Empire ended a with few conquests which he celebrated by giving his spoils of war to our children. He also declared my son, Caesarion, as the real son of Julius Caesar which just made Octavian even angrier since he’s the adopted son of Caesar. I saw that a war between Octavian and Mark Antony was unavoidable and so we started to prepare our troops for war.
Time passed by and my fear of losing to Octavian grew stronger. Mark Antony and I were gathering as many troops as possible to prepare for the upcoming war. Even though it was two to one, I knew that Octavian was very experienced in war, and I was scared of losing knowing that if I did me and my children would be killed or captured and be paraded around in Rome as a trophy. Mark Antony tried to comfort me saying that we would win, which helped but the fear of losing still lingered in my mind. I knew that if we won we would become the only rulers and take Rome for ourselves.
When I was thirty-eight, I combined my forces with Mark Antony’s to fight Octavian at Actium. We met at the battlefield and were defeated by Octavian who was more powerful than us. My worst fear came true and I knew that I was going to get captured, so I took some ships and retreated to Alexandria with Mark Antony who was getting overpowered and could not defeat Octavian alone. While on the ship Antony was infuriated by my actions to retreat with the ships, and somewhat blamed me for our defeat in battle. I would tell him that if we were to get captured we would be killed and our children would be killed as well, but this made no difference to him. After our loss at the battle I knew Octavian would come to finish us off and so I began to think of all the ways to not get captured, and so I devised a plan.
A couple weeks after the battle, I contacted Octavian secretly so that he would spare my life, my children, and Egypt. He promised to spare us if I were to kill Mark Antony, but this was no easy task. Even though the battle of Actium we Mark Antony, he was still much more powerful than me. I had the thought of writing a note to mark Antony saying that I killed myself, and from grief he would also kill himself. This plan worked but I began to realize that Octavian would not hold up to his promise of sparing me, and would capture me and my children to take us as trophies for Rome. A year has passed and I am now thirty-nine years old, constantly fearing of what will happen to me, my children, and Egypt. I’m running out of options and have to make a decision soon, so as to flee Egypt or stay and fight in hopes of defeating Octavian. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know that my name will never be forgotten.