The Last Pharaoh of Egypt: Cleopatra

Cleopatra VII ruled as co-regent of Egypt for almost three decades. She was the last in a dynasty of Macedonian rulers founded by Ptolemy, whose family ruled Egypt for 300 years. Cleopatra is best known for being the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

Cleopatra was born in 69 BC to the Pharoah Ptolemy XII and an unknown mother. During her childhood, she was brought up in the palace of Alexandria in Egypt and received a Greek education, as her family was of Greek descent. But she knew quite a few different languages; some of them being, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Hebrew, and Arabic. Cleopatra's family can be traced back to the Macedonian house of the Ptolemies, who took the throne after the death of Alexander the Great.

When she was eighteen years old, Cleopatra's father passed away, leaving his throne to her and her youngest brother, Ptolemy XIII. Right away, Cleopatra and her ten-year-old brother were married and began to co-rule Egypt. Since Cleopatra was much older than her brother, she took control as the main ruler; but once Ptolemy XIII was older, he wanted more power. Soon, he kicked Cleopatra out of the palace and took over as Pharaoh.

In 48 BC, Egypt became involved in the conflict in Rome between the Roman general Pompey and his rival, Julius Caesar. After being defeated by Caesar, Pompey fled to the Egyptian capital of Alexandria, where he was murdered on the orders of Ptolemy XIII. Caesar had been following Pompey and met Cleopatra in Egypt. Cleopatra knew she needed the help of Caesar's armies to install her as ruler of Egypt. And Caesar needed Cleopatra's vast wealth, which he could use to retrieve his power in Rome. So, Caesar defeated Ptolemy’s army at the Battle of Nile. Ptolemy drowned in the Nile river while trying to escape and Cleopatra proceeded to take back her power.

Shortly after, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra fell in love and had a child named Caesarion. Cleopatra occasionally visited Rome and stayed at Caesar's country houses. Despite her close relations with Caesar and Rome, Cleopatra wanted Eygpt to remain independent of the Roman Empire. She wanted to embrace the Egyptian culture and keep her country the way her father had left it.

In 44 B.C Julius Caesar was assassinated. One of the leaders to emerge in Caesar's place after his death was his cousin, Marc Antony. Antony and Cleopatra quickly fell in love and formed a military alliance with Rome's leader, Octavian, who was Julius Caesar's adopted son and his legal heir. But, Cleopatra wanted her and Julius Caesar's son, Caesarion, to eventually rule Rome. And she hoped Marc Antony would help her with that.

Cleopatra and Marc Antony combined their armies in order to defeat Octavian. The two forces met at the Battle of Actium, in Rome. Antony and Cleopatra's army was defeated by Octavian's army and they retreated to Egypt. Marc Antony did not accept his defeat and returned to Rome to defeat Octavian once and for all. As he was traveling to Rome, he received a message that Cleopatra had died. Hearing this news, he killed himself. It was later revealed that Cleopatra's death was false. After Antony's death, Cleopatra grew depressed and killed herself by allowing a poisonous snake to bite her. After Cleopatra's death, Octavian took complete power of Egypt and it became part of the Roman Empire.

Cleopatra lived a life full of romance and mystery. She was well loved by the people of Egypt and has been the subject of many movies and plays in the present day. Cleopatra's death brought an end to the Ptolemy dynasty and the Egyptian Empire, making her the last Pharoah of Egypt.

[Sources: History Hit ; Ducksters; ]