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Cleopatra VII Philopator , 69-30 BCE

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Cleopatra VII Philopator , 69-30 BCE. Cleopatra on stage: W. Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (c. 1607). Cleopatra on film: 1917, 1934, 1963, 1970, 1999 (+ 1899, 1912, 1913, 1928). Cleopatra in sculpture and painting (275 post-classical objects in ArtStor ). Sources for Cleopatra.

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cleopatra on stage w shakespeare antony and cleopatra c 1607
Cleopatra on stage: W. Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (c. 1607)

Cleopatra on film: 1917, 1934, 1963, 1970, 1999(+ 1899, 1912, 1913, 1928)

sources for cleopatra
Sources for Cleopatra
  • Augustan age poets
    • Vergil Aeneid 8.677-730
    • Horace Odes 1.37; Epodes 9.11-17
    • Elegy 3.11.29-32; 39-41; 47-49
  • Plutarch: 2nd c. Greek biographer
    • Life of Julius Caesar
    • Life of Mark Antony
  • Dio Cassius: 2nd-3rd c. Greek historian
    • Roman History
the men in cleopatra s life
The men in Cleopatra’s life

Ptolemy XII Auletes Julius Caesar Mark Antony Octavian (= Augustus)

117-51 BCE 100-44 BCE 83-30 BCE 63 BCE – 14 CE

Also: Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth (London, National Gallery, 2001; Chicago, Field Museum, 2002)
Alexander III of Macedon336/5-323/2


Ptolemy I Soter323/2-283/2

cleopatra vii philopator 69 40 bce
Cleopatra VII Philopator: 69-40 BCE

69: born to Ptolemy XII Auletes (b. 117 BCE) and Cleopatra V Tryphaena

51: succeeds with her brother Ptolemy XIII

  • 49: supplies Pompey with ships, men, grain against Caesar in the civil war (49-48)
  • 48: Caesar defeats Pompey at Pharsalus; Pompey killed in Egypt; Cleopatra expelled from Egypt by Ptolemy XIII mid-year; raises an army in Arabia and Palestine

48: Ptolemy XIII drowns; Cleopatra restored by Caesar with Ptolemy XIV as co-ruler

47: gives birth to Ptolemy Caesar “Caesarion”; Caesar abandons annexation of Egypt

46: visits Rome with Caesarion and stays at Caesar’s Transtiberim villa Caesar erects golden statue of Cleopatra-as-Isis in Temple of Venus Genetrix

(1st time a statue of a living figure was placed in a temple next to a goddess in Rome)

44: assassination of Caesar; death of Ptolemy XIV (at Cleopatra’s instigation?) associated as senior ruler with her son Ptolemy XV TheosPhilopatorPhilometor

43: sides with Antony and Octavian against Cassius and Brutus

41: meets Mark Antony in Tarsus, Cilicia, to face charges she aided Cassius, but probably for Antony to secure support for Parthian campaign; arrives as Venus in purple and gold

41: has rebel sister Arsinoe IV executed on steps of Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

40: gives birth to Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, Antony’s children

40: Antony marries Octavia, Octavian’s sister, who bears two daughters

cleopatra vii philopator 40 31 bce
Cleopatra VII Philopator: 40-31 BCE

37: presents Antony with his children and marries him

36: Antony, with Cleopatra’s fleet, defeated by Parthians (10,000 men lost)

36: Antony joins Cleopatra in Alexandria, avoiding Octavia

36: gives birth to Ptolemy Philadelphus

34: Alexandrian Donations: “Queen of Kings”

  • Cleopatra and Caesarion: Egypt, Cyprus
  • Alexander Helios: Armenia, Media, Parthia
  • Cleopatra Selene: Cyrenaica, Libya
  • Ptolemy Philadelphus: Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia

33: Antony, Cleopatra go to Ephesus to build fleet of 500 ships and 100,000 soldiers

32: Antony divorces Octavia

31: Senate outlaws Antony and declares war on Antony and Cleopatra

31: Battle of Actium: Antony and Cleopatra flee to Egypt

30: Antony and Cleopatra die by suicide

Octavian Antony 

Syria, Lycia,Phoenicia

Armenia Media and

Parthia 



Libya, Cyrenaica

images of cleopatra
Images of Cleopatra

Basalt statuette Berlin bust with diadem Cameo as Pharoah Vatican bust with diadem as Pharoah possibly based on statue,

Temple of Venus Genetrix

antony s roman wives
Fulvia, wife, 46-40 BCE

Octavian’s verse about Fulvia in the Perusine War, 41-40 BCE:

“Because Antony fucks Glaphyra, Fulvia has arrangedthis punishment for me: that I fuck her too. That I fuck Fulvia? What if Manius begged me to bugger him? Would I? I don't think so, if I were sane 'Either fuck or let's fight,' she says. Doesn't she knowmy prick is dearer to me than life itself? Let the trumpets blare!”(Martial Epigrams 11.20)

Antony’s Roman wives

Octavia, wife, 40-36 BCE

39: bears AntoniaMaior

36: bears Antonia Minor

32: divorced from Antony

30: raises Antony’s children

  • Iullus Antonius (Fulvia)
  • Alexander Helios
  • Cleopatra Selene
  • PtolemyPhiladelphus
roman egyptomania
Roman Egyptomania

Pyramid of Cestius, 18-12 BCE

Circus Maximus with obelisk on spina10 BCE

Obelisk from the Circus MaximusTransported to Rome by Augustus 10 BCE(now in the Piazza del Popolo on the Via Flaminia)
“I added Egypt to the empire of the Roman people” (Augustus, Res Gestae 27.1) – 23 BCEObelisk of the gnomon of the horologium(now in the Piazza diMontecitorio)

Imp(erator) Caesar divi f(ilius)



imp(erator) XII, co(n)s(ul) XI, trib(unicia) pot(estate) XIV

Aegypto in potestatem

populi Romani redacta

Soli donumdedit

“Emperor Caesar Augustus son of the divine,

chief priest,

hailed imperator 12 times, consul 11 times, holding tribunician power for the 14th time

once Egypt had been reduced to the

power of the Roman people

gave this as a gift to the Sun.”

  • Why did Caesar place Cleopatra on the Egyptian throne and what was their relationship?
  • What did she represent to Rome by 41 BCE before meeting Mark Antony?
  • What kind of character of Cleopatra emerges from the Roman sources in the handout?
  • Why do we remain interested in Cleopatra today?