Last Reviewed and Updated on August 1, 2022
Cleopatra is one of the most fascinating, and mysterious, figures in history. Following the death of her father, she became queen at 18 years old and was a ruler for about 20 years. Explore some of the most interesting facts about Cleopatra, her life as a Queen of Egypt as well as her love life.
1. Cleopatra was the last active pharaoh of Ancient Egypt
She ruled from 51 to 30 BC and was the last active ruler in Ancient Egypt.
2. She was not of Egyptian descent
Cleopatra was born in Alexandria, a port city in Egypt, but her family origin was from Macedonian Greece. Her lineage can be traced to Ptolemy I, a Macedonian Greek general of Alexander the Great.
3. She represented herself as the reincarnation of the goddess Isis
This wasn’t at all uncommon. Almost all pharaohs represented themselves as reincarnations of gods. Most often they were viewed as new incarnations of Horus, one of the most significant deities in Ancient Egypt. The goddess Isis on the other is the mother of Horus.
4. She had to marry her two younger brothers
Marrying your siblings, especially in royalty, isn’t uncommon in history. Cleopatra was no different. Their father, Ptolemy XII, demanded that after his death, Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator and Cleopatra VII marry and rule as co-rulers. When he died, Cleopatra was 18 and Ptolemy XIII was 11.
After the death of Ptolemy XII, according to his will, his younger brother Ptolemy XIV was proclaimed co-ruler of Egypt and married Cleopatra. Certainly, one of the more interesting Cleopatra facts, though a weird one from today’s perspective.
5. Cleopatra had a son with Julius Cesar
Julius Cesar and Cleopatra had a son, Ptolemy XV Caesar, nicknamed Cesarion. Cesarion was the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt while he was co-reigning with his mother Cleopatra. They executed him shortly after Cleopatra died.
6. She also married Mark Antony
This is often depicted in movies as a great romance between the two, and it is very likely they genuinely fell in love, but the main reason for the marriage was a political one. Cleopatra needed the marriage to protect her reign and to protect the independence of Egypt.
One thing can be said for sure since Cleopatra managed to seduce both Julius Cesar and Mark Antony she had to have an amazing charm on top of her other impressive skills.
7. She spoke multiple languages
Ptolemaic Pharaohs, Cleopatra’s predecessors, spoke Greek and didn’t really bother with learning Egyptian. She however was an exception. Cleopatra learned the language of her subjects, Egyptian, as well as other languages.
8. Cleopatra knew how to make a grand entrance
She used elaborate costumes, often dressing as the goddess Isis. It is also believed she dressed according to the customs of places she traveled to. Compared to other rulers, it is believed she dressed more luxuriously, with more jewelry and more elaborate dresses.
9. She killed herself
This has always been one of the most known facts about Cleopatra. Movies about her often show she killed herself by letting a venomous snake bite her. While this makes movies more dramatic, it isn’t true. They didn’t find a venomous snake on her body or in the room, and there were no snake bites on her either. Her physician didn’t explain the cause of her death. She most likely did poison herself but how exactly she introduced poison to her body is a bit of a mystery (from puncturing herself with a needle to poisonous ointments).
10. After her death, Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire
The lands of Egypt became the property of Rome following the death of Cleopatra.