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"Those living in one's shadow are the least worthy of trust."
―Cleopatra to Bayek and Aya[src]

Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (69 BCE – 30 BCE), known to history simply as Cleopatra, was the last effective pharaoh of Egypt, ruling from 51 BCE to 30 BCE. She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and the elder sister of Ptolemy XIII.

A member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a ethnically Greek family of Macedonian origin, Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father, and later with Ptolemy XIII, whom she married as per Egyptian custom. As queen, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne.

Biography

Early life and exile from Egypt

Cleopatra was born in 69 BCE in Alexandria to Ptolemy XII Auletes.[1] Following her father's death in 51 BCE, a then eighteen-year-old Cleopatra succeeded him as the next pharoah of Egypt, co-jointly ruling the country alongside Ptolemy XIII.[2]

In 49 BCE, Cleopatra was exiled by her younger brother Ptolemy XIII, who had been supported by the Order of the Ancients, causing her to flee Alexandria with the help of her loyal follower, Apollodorus. During her years in exile, Cleopatra lived in Apollodorus' personal estate. She later made the acquaintance of Aya, a former Medjay who was introduced to her by Apollodorus. The two shared a bond and became close friends, with Aya becoming her agent.[2]

In 48 BCE, Cleopatra was introduced to Bayek of Siwa, Aya's husband who had hunted various members of the Order responsible for her exile. Cleopatra revealed to Bayek that the Snake, whom he thought to be Eudoros, was actually the Order itself and that he was known by the cryptonym, the Hippo.[3]

Following this, Cleopatra began a liaison with Julius Caesar 47 BCE, who aided Cleopatra in her struggle against her younger brother.[4] Through his aid, Cleopatra eventually gained sole control of Egypt under the watchful eye of the Order of the Ancients.[5]

War against Octavian and death

"And Akila? Thank you. For all you have done. We have no friend but resolution and the briefest end."
―Cleopatra's final moments[src]
Cleopatra's Death

Cleopatra commits suicide.

With Antony dead and her fate sealed, Cleopatra was confronted one last time by Amunet back at her palace in Alexandria. There, her former servant implored her to resign to Octavian's victory, to which the pharaoh acquiesced on the condition that Amunet take Caesarion with her and train him as a Hidden One. Amunet handed her a poison by which to commit suicide and left with Caesarion. Once Cleopatra was certain that her son was gone and far away, she thanked Akila for her servitude before consuming the poison. Within mere moments, Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt, was dead.[6]

Legacy

Though Amunet had not directly killed Cleopatra,[6] later Assassins romanticized her role in her death with the legend that she had assassinated the queen with a venomous asp. Statues of Amunet with a serpent coiled around her were erected in the Sanctuary under the Villa Auditore in Monteriggioni and in her cenotaph in Venice's St. Mark's Basilica, reinforcing the popular account.[7]

In 2012, Cleopatra was included in a mnemonic set in Abstergo Industries' Project Legacy.[4]

Physical Appearance

Though there is speculation as to what Cleopatra might have looked like, she is often described as a great beauty, even by the standards of the ancient world. She had olive-toned skin, which looked paler due to the geographical location of Alexandria on a map of Egypt. She also had dark, black hair that is depicted in various styles with equally lavish accessories. She is also described as having a tall, but slightly curvy figure.

Personality and characteristics

"I am Queen until a sword plunges through my heart. And even then, my blood will stay on my throne."
―Cleopatra[src]

Cleopatra was a figure who often displayed an irreverent and whimsical exterior, lavishing in wealth and indulging in all the aristocratic pleasures of life. She was shown to be quite charismatic, easily swaying the Egyptian crowds into accepting her as a ruling figure. This was mostly because she had a very charming voice that could make even a lovesick man become enamored with the sweet tones of her voice. Because her voice was her most defining feature, she was able to sway Julius Caesar to her side after a single meeting by appealing to his desire for greatness. To that end, she cultivated the image of being a goddess among her people to gain their admiration and loyalty.

However, beneath her charmingly hedonistic exterior was a ruthless, seductive, and determined political manipulator willing to get rid of anyone in the way of her obtaining rulership and going through any means of securing her path to power. To that end she allied herself with the Medjay of Siwa and his wife before betraying them to join the Order of the Ancients to consolidate her rule over Egypt and Rome via a marriage to Caesar and tried to use her Caesar-spawned son Caesarion to strengthen her control of Rome. She was also shown to be quite cruel, initially demanding the Twin Priestesses to be boiled to death inside a Bronze Bull after she was initially told they poisoned the ceremonial Apis Bull and wanting to have her brother slain to eliminate any obstacles to her birthright.

Trivia

  • The name Cleopatra is derived from the Greek name Κλεοπάτρα (Kleopatra) which meant "she who comes from glorious father" or "glory of the father" in the feminine form, derived from κλέος (kleos) "glory" combined with πατήρ (pater) "father" (the masculine form would be written either as Kleopatros (Κλεόπατρος), or Patroklos (Πάτροκλος)).
  • Cleopatra was regarded as being one of the most educated women of her time—speaking nine languages by the time she was 20.[2]
  • In regards to her ancestry, Cleopatra had mostly Greek roots in Macedonia, which means she does not possess any Egyptian roots.
  • The most famous representation of Cleopatra's life has been dramatized in William Shakespeare's tragedy, Antony and Cleopatra, which was published around 1606.
  • Cleopatra was a rich ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, so it is no surprise that she was forced to seek out innovative ways to spend all her money. One of the best-known stories connected to her lavishness revolves around a bet she made with her lover, and later husband, Mark Antony, claiming to be able to spend 10 million sestertii on one single dinner. He, of course, accepted the bet and Cleopatra organized the dinner for the following evening. But the dinner was far from spectacular – the food served was quite common. However, for the second course, Cleopatra ordered a cup of strong vinegar, dissolved a majestic pearl in it, and drank the solution, supposedly winning the bet.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the things that made Cleopatra "attractive" was her wit, charm and power, and not her facial features or body attributes. 
  • Cleopatra was famous for changing her appearance according to the politics of the moment. For example, in ceremonial events, she appeared dressed as the goddess Isis, it was common for Egyptian rulers to identify with some deities.
  • It is believed that Cleopatra often took frequent baths in donkey milk to preserve the youth of her skin. She also used a variety of other cosmetic products, which were made from rocks, minerals and plants at the time. Her cosmetics consisted of minerals and rocks such as malachite, pyrite, lead sulfide and red ochre. Cleopatra’s nail polish was most likely made from henna, a dye that comes from the Egyptian privet tree.

Gallery

Appearances

References