Do you want to understand the links between Julius Caesar and Cleopatra? Unravel the mysteries of their relationship? Understand how Julius Caesar contributed to the reform of ancient Egypt?
Julius Caesar enabled Cleopatra's accession to the throne of Egypt, through his actions, but also through his death. The relationship of Cleopatra and Caesar is also a symbol of the special link in ancient times uniting two ancient powerful nations, Egypt and Rome.
In this article, you will discover:
- Who were Julius Caesar and Cleopatra
- The relationship they had and its consequences for Egypt
Let's discover it all together!
1) Julius Caesar and Cleopatra
Cleopatra and Julius Caesar undeniably marked their times. Even today, everyone knows them because they shaped antiquity in their image. Both have different profiles. On the one hand, there is a man forged for war and power, conqueror of "barbaric" territories and protector of his people. On the other, is Cleopatra, the only queen of her time, trying to rebuild the grandiose legacy of Ramesses (a ruler who was the most successful in expanding the borders of Egypt).
In order for you to fully understand the relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra, a short introduction of the two lovers is in order.
A) The consul Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (whose complete name was Gaius Julius Caesar) was one of the most powerful rulers of ancient Rome. He significantly transformed what became the Roman Republic. Indeed, Caesar has done a lot through his numerous conquests (particularly in French Gaul) or by changing the Roman political system from a Republic to an Empire.
Allegedly a descendant of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, Caesar's birth (in 100 BC) marked the beginning of a new chapter in Roman history. From an early age, Caesar participated in several wars and became involved in Roman politics. He became the greatest general and politician of the end of the Roman Republic.
In 53 BC, Julius Caesar's triumph in Gaul is total. He subdues all the French Gallic peoples considerably increasing the power of Rome.
In 48 BC, thanks to his strategist's skills and his numerous wise alliances, Julius Caesar was the great winner of the first "Roman civil war" against one of his Roman ally who had become his greatest enemy: Pompey.
Following his victory, Rome entered a period of rarely achieved prosperity. He was adored by his people, the senate obeyed him, and a true cult of his personality developed throughout the Roman Republic.
Julius Caesar then became undoubtedly the most powerful Roman and supreme consul of Rome. Faced with such power, many senators were afraid that he would decide to overthrow the republic to create a monarchy.
At the beginning of a senate meeting, he is assassinated in 44 BC by the conspirators led by his adoptive son: Brutus. Caesar died from 23 stab wounds. The last of these stabs was received from Brutus, to whom Caesar will say, "Tu quoque mi fili" ("you too my son" in Latin, meaning that Brutus will one day be caught by his treachery).
Caesar's assassination was very well prepared. Some conspirators pushed aside the senators loyal to Caesar as well as his close guard, while the others got rid of the consul.
Nevertheless, a few stab wounds were not enough to destroy the Empire that Caesar had begun to build. Indeed, the other adoptive son of Caesar, Octavian, became the first emperor after having punished the Republican conspirators.
B) The last pharaoh of Egypt
Cleopatra is also an important character of antiquity. She is the most famous Egyptian queen for many reasons:
- Her legendary beauty makes her one of the most beautiful women of antiquity. She has an incredible charm that melts the hearts of men.
- Her extraordinary intelligence makes her a brilliant speaker. She is eloquent and has a real gift for intrigue.
- Her family was very rich. She is indeed the queen of the richest kingdom of antiquity.
- With her brilliant mind, she is undoubtedly the most cultivated woman of her time. She received the best possible education with the greatest teachers.
Many theories come to fuel the mystery of Cleopatra. Was her nose really peculiar?
Nevertheless, the history of Cleopatra is not all rosy. Indeed, despite her efforts, the end of her reign meant the end of the independence of ancient Egypt. Cleopatra succeeded in uniting the peoples of Egypt, Syria, and Cyprus, a feat that only Ptolemy I Soter (the general of Alexander the Great who conquered Egypt) had achieved before her.
Unfortunately, after the death of Cleopatra, her kingdom was weakened by the many civil wars in which she took part. Octavian (who became emperor after Caesar's death) took advantage of this weakness to absorb the nation into his newly formed Roman Empire.
2) The meeting of Cleopatra and Caesar
Julius Caesar laid the foundations of the Roman Empire, a period during which Rome would experience its golden age. Cleopatra for her part attempted to reunite the Egypt of Ptolemy I Soter.
A) A meeting of common interest in Egypt
Julius Caesar and Cleopatra meet while Egypt is in the midst of a civil war. Indeed, in 53 BC, Cleopatra had fled to Syria to escape from her brother, Ptolemy XIII, who reigns over Egypt. Julius Caesar (then consul of Rome) saw this war as an opportunity to seize the eastern lands of Egypt.
The need for both was reciprocal. Cleopatra needs the power of Caesar's armies to take over the leadership of Egypt and replace her brother, while Caesar needs the great wealth and the fertile land of Egypt.
Indeed, Cleopatra is considered to be the richest person of the 1st century BC.
Thanks to this, Caesar could therefore finance his return to the political scene in Rome and definitively eliminates his remaining competitors of the first Roman civil war (a war opposing Caesar to the consul Pompey who wanted to become the only decision maker in Rome).
The first Roman civil war plunged the republic into a veritable bloodbath. It was not until Pompey's final defeat that peace could be established.
In 48 BC, after many negotiations, Julius Caesar persuaded Ptolemy XIII to accept Cleopatra's return to Egypt. Nevertheless, manipulated by his advisers, the pharaoh decided at the last moment to besiege Alexandria where Caesar and Cleopatra were based.
The only way for them to escape is to wait for Roman reinforcements to free them, but to do so, they will have to wait months. Julius Caesar and Cleopatra get to know each other and unsurprisingly fall in love with each other.
As soon as his brother is defeated by the Roman legions, they decide to go up the Nile together to savor their triumph. From this cruise and as proof of their love, a future pharaoh, Ptolemy XV, was born.
In contrast to the immediate romance that would later unite Mark Antony and Cleopatra, it took several months to build that of Caesar with Cleopatra.
B) The death of Caesar
Unfortunately, Julius Caesar had to return to Rome to retain his position as consul. With a heavy heart, he leaves his lover. Months pass, but neither Cleopatra nor Caesar manages to forget the other. Nothing can stop the love they have for each other, and Cleopatra boards the first ship to join the man she loves.
As proof of their love, Caesar even has a gold-covered statue of Cleopatra erected. Although marriage between a Roman and a foreigner is not allowed, Caesar does not hide from this relationship. They spend three years together in Rome.
The relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra is even discussed in the movie "Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra". In this French movie, an ambitious Caesar is shown who wants to marry Cleopatra to increase his power.
Face with the fear of Caesar's growing power on Roman democracy, he is assassinated by his rivals. He dies on the steps of the Senate and his relationship with Cleopatra dies with him. Cleopatra's heart is broken with sadness, as is the union of Rome and Egypt. Cleopatra decides to return to Egypt to protect her life and that of the child she has had with her late lover.
As tragic as the assassination of Caesar is, thanks to him, Cleopatra can finally reign over Egypt without sharing or accountability. Their union thus enabled two great kingdoms to emerge from interminable civil wars.
The history of Cleopatra and Caesar!
As you will have understood, the story of Cleopatra and Caesar is much more than a simple romance, but a political alliance allowing the union of the two most powerful states of antiquity. The golden age of Rome began, but the greatness of ancient Egypt waned.
Nevertheless, it is not because Egyptian independence disappeared at the same time as Cleopatra that you cannot admire what made her greatness!
As an example, you can discover all our range of Egyptian jewelry honoring the country of Cleopatra by clicking on the image below!