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Sat, 15th of September

together we can rule the world | politically significant couples in history
» Cleopatra VII & Gaius Julius Caesar

"I will make all the men I love kings. I will make you a king."

Cleopatra VII was the last Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. By the time she met Caesar, she had co-ruled Egypt with her half-brother Ptolemy XIII for some three year. She was a notable ruler not only because she dared to challenge Rome, but also because she respected and valued the people of Egypt far more than any other Ptolemaic ruler. Cleopatra was the only member of her dynasty who even bothered to learn the language of native Egyptians (along with numerous others).

Gaius Julius Caesar was a famous and powerful Roman general and politician long before he met Cleopatra. He was a member of the First Triumvirate and led a successful invasion of Gaul (modern-day France) prior to being ordered back to Rome by his former son-in-law Pompey. Their conflict resulted in civil war—and ultimately, in his relationship with Cleopatra. When Pompey fled to Egypt, Caesar pursued him (only to receive his head from Ptolemy XIII). Angry that Pompey had been executed, Caesar went to war with Ptolemy in 47 B.C.E. After his victory at the Battle of the Nile, during which Ptolemy XIII was killed, he declared Cleopatra and her younger half-brother Ptolemy XIV co-rulers of Egypt

Shortly after arriving in Egypt, Caesar had met Cleopatra. The two soon became lovers. He was fifty-two; she was twenty-one. After his victory over Ptolemy XIII, they went on a triumphal procession on the Nile together. Cleopatra gave birth to their only living child a few months later, a son named Ptolemy Philopator Philometor Caesar but more commonly called Caesarion. Though Caesar never declared the boy his heir, Caesarion would continue to pose a political threat to Octavian (later Augustus) long after his father’s death.

Their relationship continued for the next several years. Caesar had since been made dictator of Rome and had enjoyed several more military triumphs. When he returned to Rome, he began to make huge legislative changes (including debt reform and the introduction of the Julian calendar in 45 B.C.E.). On the fifteenth of March on 44 B.C.E., however, Caesar was assassinated on the steps of the Roman Senate shortly after being named “dictator for life.” Cleopatra and their son were in Rome at the time of the assassination, and evidence suggests that she was pregnant with her second child by him, which she subsequently miscarried.

After Caesar’s death, Cleopatra became the lover of Mark Antony, whom she would ultimately marry and with whom she had three other children, and the co-ruler with her son Caesarion. Despite (or perhaps because of) her power, she had many enemies in Rome, as did Antony. Octavian eventually waged war on Egypt, won a decisive victory at the Battle of Actium, and ultimately invaded in 30 B.C.E.

Cleopatra took her own life on August 12 of that year. Caesarion—who strongly resembled his father—was killed by Octavian shortly thereafter, giving Rome dominion over Egypt and eliminating any other possible heirs of Julius Caesar.

{thanks to tiny-librarian for her fact-checking and input!}


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    My life always comes back to Caesar in some strange roundabout ways. Hi there!
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