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There is some controversy about the possible African origins of her mother or her paternal grandmother. Although not much is available about her early life, young royal women of the Ptolemaic dynasty were well educated, and although the Library of Alexandria was no longer the intellectual powerhouse of the Mediterranean, the facility and its adjacent research center the Mouseion were still a center for learning. She took medical studies—she was a medical writer as a young woman—and she studied philosophy, rhetoric, and oratory with a tutor.

She was a gifted linguist: in addition to her native Greek, Plutarch reported that she spoke Ethiopian, Trogodyte, Hebraic probably Aramaic or less likely Hebrew , Arabic, Syrian, Median, and Parthian as well as many others. She undoubtedly read Greek, Egyptian, and Latin, and perhaps others.

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In 58 BCE, her father fled Rome to escape the anger of his people for the failing economy. Cleopatra, about 9 years old at the time, likely went with him. Ptolemy then married his son, about 9 years old, to his remaining daughter, Cleopatra, who was by this time about When Cleopatra VII took the double crown, Egypt was still facing the financial issues that her predecessors had created—Julius Caesar was owed Drought, failed crops, and food shortages were becoming more serious, and by 48 BCE the Nile flood was extremely low.

Cleopatra set about restoring the bull cult; but the largest issue was the presence in her kingdom of Ptolemy XIII, only about 11 years old at the time. Ptolemy had the support of his tutor Potheinos and a powerful set of advisers, including many of the top generals, and by the autumn of 50 BCE, Ptolemy XIII was in the dominant position in the country. In the meantime, Ptolemy's advisers were becoming alarmed at the rise in turmoil in the Roman Empire, and seeking to back away from that conflict, they had Pompey assassinated and his head sent to Caesar.

Shortly thereafter, Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria. He sent messages to Cleopatra and Ptolemy, asking them to disband their armies and reconcile with one another; Ptolemy kept his army but came to Alexandria, while Cleopatra set messengers and then came herself to see Caesar. Cleopatra, according to the stories, had herself delivered to Julius Caesar's presence in a rug and won his support. Caesar never formally accepted paternity, but he did take Cleopatra to Rome that year, also taking her sister, Arsinoe, and displaying her in Rome as a war captive.

That he was already married to Calpurnia yet Cleopatra claimed to be his wife added to political tensions in Rome that ended with Caesar's assassination in 44 BCE.

She established her son as her co-ruler Ptolemy XV Caesarion. When the next Roman military governor of the region, Marc Antony, demanded her presence—along with that of other rulers who were controlled by Rome—she arrived dramatically in 41 BCE and managed to convince him of her innocence of charges about her support of Caesar's supporters in Rome, captivated his interest, and gained his support.

Common Knowledge

Cleopatra bore twins to Antony. They had a daughter in 39 BCE.


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In 37 BCE Antony returned to Antioch, Cleopatra joined him, and they went through a sort of marriage ceremony the following year. That year of that ceremony, another son was born to them, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt

Marc Antony formally restored to Egypt—and Cleopatra—territory which the Ptolemy's had lost control of, including Cyprus and part of what is now Lebanon. In true royal Egyptian fashion , members of the Ptolemaic dynasty married their siblings and immediate relatives.


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  • Cleopatra was no different. The two probably got married ; he exiled her from Egypt, and she went to Rome to get Julius Caesar's help in retaking her kingdom. Sadly for Cleopatra, she probably didn't match her famed portrayer in the looks department.

    Cleopatra Facts: 6 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Her - HistoryExtra

    But the academic consensus today is that her political brilliance and alluring manner were her real attractions. Cleo didn't flirt with Caesar because he was hot; she used him to get what she wanted. The Romans gave him a "finance minister" to help him out, but the guy stole a lot of money from Egypt. They met in 48 BC, when Caesar's arch-rival Pompey landed on Egyptian shores and was promptly killed by Cleo's little brother.

    Caesar followed Pompey and came to Egypt, where he met a brilliant young queen who appealed to him intellectually and sexually.

    Cleopatra: The Last Queen of Egypt - Biography Documentary

    And history was made. Legend has it that Cleopatra had herself wrapped in a rug and smuggled into Caesar's room, but that was probably false.