Did the Romans invade Egypt too?

Cleopatra and Caesar: Power Struggles and Intrigues

A legendary beauty from the Nile or just a devious ruler with a hooked nose - who was Cleopatra really? You can read about the eventful life of the Pharaoh here

The young woman doesn't know what to do next. She is no longer allowed to enter the country she rules and her own brother would like to have her killed. Your last hope is the ruler of the neighboring Roman Empire: Caesar. Only he can help her now and mediate between her and her brother.

In order to get into Caesar's chambers unnoticed, Cleopatra VII, ruler of Egypt, has herself wrapped in a carpet - it is her only way to get past her brother's strict guards unnoticed. Her plan works: she gets to Caesar hidden in the carpet and can so bewitch him with her beauty, ambition and intelligence that the commander of the Roman Empire simply has to help her - because he has fallen in love with her.

How did this situation come about?

Cleopatra was the daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy XII. The family, originally from Greece, had been in power in Egypt for over 300 years. And in all that time none of the rulers could speak the Egyptian language. Cleopatra, one of the most educated women of her time, was the first to speak several languages ​​fluently - including, of course, Egyptian.

After the death of her father, Cleopatra had to marry her brother, according to the will, in order to rule the country with him. That was the custom in Egypt in 51 BC. Cleopatra had big plans for the Egyptian Empire: She wanted to expand the borders and ally with the Roman neighbors so that the two areas can become one big. Her brother (and husband) Ptolemy XIII disagreed. He wanted to get rid of Cleopatra and exiled her to Syria. The will for power was so great at the time that the pharaohs of Egypt did not even shrink from murdering their own family members. And that is exactly what Ptolemy XIII had. in front. Because without his sister Cleopatra he was much better able to assert his ideas. Cleopatra wanted to fight for her rule. She put together troops with whom she wanted to return to Egypt and defeat her brother. But Caesar got in the way.

Cleopatra bewitched Caesar

Caesar was so impressed by Cleopatra's beauty, ambition and will that he came to her aid. He stated that the will of the late Ptolemy XII. is valid and that, accordingly, both siblings should rule over Egypt together. Cleopatra of course immediately accepted this compromise and returned to the palace in Alexandria. Her brother, Ptolemy XII, died a short time later in a war. Cleopatra was then married to her 10-year-old brother Ptolemy XIV so that they could again rule the country together with a brother.


Although Caesar's work in Egypt was actually done (he had settled the disputes), he still kept in touch with Cleopatra. The two had a son in 47 BC who was called Caesarion ("little Caesar"). Was it love or calculation that kept Cleopatra's relationship with Caesar going?

Cleopatra followed Caesar to Rome and hoped to be able to fulfill her wish for a great world empire there. But Caesar never married her and never recognized his biological son as heir to the throne. And then misfortune happened: Caesar was insidiously murdered by two adversaries in 44 BC. With his death not only did Cleopatra's hopes for the expansion of her empire wane; Her helper and protector was no longer there either. From now on she had to deal with the controversy for the throne in Egypt on her own. Cleopatra and Caesarion returned to Egypt that same year.

Another death

Cleopatra's husband, her younger brother, soon died under mysterious circumstances. Had she had him killed so that her son Caesarion could rule with her? One does not know. The death of Ptolemy XIV could never be cleared up.

Cleopatra also bewitched Antony

While Cleopatra ruled Egypt, the Roman Empire was divided between Mark Antony and Octavian after Caesar's death. Cleopatra's desire to win a larger empire was still there. She made contact with Antonius - who, like Caesar before him, succumbed to the charms of the Egyptian woman. Antony never married Cleopatra either; he had been married for some time himself. But Antony and Cleopatra had three children together. Their friendship was also extremely successful politically and Cleopatra got what she wanted: Antonius expanded the borders of her empire.

The battle of decision

Octavian, who shared control of the Roman Empire with Antonius, of course did not agree. He accused Antony of having betrayed Rome to the Egyptian woman and instigated a fight against him and Cleopatra, which took place in the year 31 BC at Actium on the high seas. Cleopatra and Antonius faced Octiavian on different ships, but they were vastly inferior to him and fled to Egypt. When Antonius saw Octavian's troops coming there, he committed suicide and threw himself on his sword.

Cleopatra had already arrived in Egypt in the meantime. For a short time she posed as the winner of the battle. However, it was also clear to her that Octavian would shortly also arrive in Egypt to celebrate his victory there. Octavian would then have her lead in a triumphal procession through the city as the loser, so that everyone could see her defeat with their own eyes. Cleopatra wanted to avoid this disgrace. That's why she took her own life too.

But even for that she came up with something special, according to at least one legend. She put a poisonous snake on her chest and waited for the deadly bite. Venomous snakes were a symbol of rule in Egypt at that time. Cleopatra remained Pharaoh until the last moment and was able to stage her own death herself.