CLEOPATRA AND MARK ANTONY
Would you like to discover the link between Cleopatra and Mark Antony? Do you want to immerse yourself in the real Egyptian tragedy involving the latter two? Or understand how their union changed the future of ancient Egypt?
We are here to guide you and answer all these questions that are on your mind.
Mark Antony and Cleopatra is above all a love story, but much more complex than it seems. Politics, battles and civil war come together to create the true Egyptian tragedy of antiquity.
We discovered in this article:
- Who was the queen Cleopatra
- Who was her last lover Mark Antony
- What was their mysterious relationship and how did it end
After this article, the great romance of Mark Antony and Cleopatra will no longer hold any mystery for you.
Let's plunge together into this story that shaped ancient Egypt!
1) Cleopatra the last queen of Egypt
Cleopatra is known as one of the greatest and most influential women of antiquity. Her reign is also one of the most interesting in ancient Egypt because of her astonishing rise to power and the great things she achieved for her people.
First we will discover the youth and the person of Cleopatra.
A) Who is Cleopatra?
First of all we must know that there are many Cleopatra's, but here we will only talk about the most famous of them all, Cleopatra VII. She is the daughter of the Pharaoh Ptolemy XII and has two brothers and a sister.
From an early age she was immersed in the world of Egyptian politics, observing her father's reign with great attention. She witnessed the plots aimed at his reign and learnt many lessons that would later serve her in numerous intrigues during his reign.
Cleopatra possesses many assets that captivated hearts from her youth:
- Physically, Cleopatra is of unequalled beauty, often described as divine. She possesses unparalleled charm and exudes an aura of formidable seduction.
- She is not only magnificent, she has a brilliant mind, speaks many languages and is one of the most cultured women of her time.
- She is extremely intelligent, persuasive and has a real gift for convincing and persuading her peers, but also for manipulating them when necessary.
Cleopatra knew how to turn the heads of many people, especially the Romans. In this painting, we can see Cleopatra represented with a little fantasy, with Mark Anthony on her left and Julius Caesar on her right.
But then what could stop such an incredible woman? The answer is simple: little, as her accession to the throne of Egypt shows.
B) Her ascension to the throne of Egypt
Upon the death of her father, she is declared heiress but she cannot reign alone. She therefore shares power with her younger brother, whom she marries according to the Ptolemaic tradition (authorising marriages between members of the same family).
Times are very hard and tensions are growing between the two sovereigns who want only one thing: to reign alone. Cleopatra, a great intriguer, tries to discredit her brother with rumours and political intrigues. But nothing helps, as her brother is a man, he is the favourite of the powerful in Egypt and Cleopatra is forced to flee to Syria.
That's when Julius Caesar comes into play. He saw in the quarrel between the two rulers a unique opportunity to get his hands on the rich lands of Egypt. He succeeded in convincing Cleopatra's brother to bring her back to Egypt.
Back from Syria, it is in Alexandria that she will meet the Roman general and that he will become her first love, but that is another story.
It is thanks to the mysterious death of her brother during a bath that Cleopatra will once again accede to the throne of Egypt. However, it was truly with the assassination of Julius Caesar that she began to reign undivided over Egypt.
Egypt, which for a long time remained under Roman protectorate, gained independence after the assassination of Julius Caesar and became one of the most powerful regions of the second Roman triumvirate.
2) A love two steps away from death
You will have understood that Cleopatra is a wonderful woman, full of power and ambition. But Cleopatra lacks some real assets to become the undisputed queen she aspires to be: an army and a powerful husband. Chance or destiny, she finds these two aspects in one man: Mark Antony.
A) The beginning of a romantic story...
It was at the end of the Roman civil war of the first Triumvirate (a period when power was divided between three Roman generals, namely Caesar, Pompey and Crassus) that Mark Antony and Cleopatra met. Mark Antony is one of the great victors and is given the entire Roman East when the second Triumvirate is divided (namely, Mark Antony, Octavian and Lepidus).
Marc Antoine was animated by major projects and decided to summon the sovereigns of the territory that had been granted to him. It was then that he saw the great Cleopatra for the first time and instantly fell madly in love with her. She invites him on her boat for a rich banquet and it takes no more than a day for them to fall into each other's arms.
Cleopatra did everything she could to seduce Mark Antony. She presents herself to him in a magnificent outfit, on the most beautiful boat of her fleet and surrounded by her most beautiful maidservants disguised as nymphs.
Together, bound together by a fusional love, Cleopatra and Mark Antony will accomplish great things:
- They re-founded the great Lagid kingdom (immense kingdom of Egypt after the distribution of the conquests of Alexander the Great) by taking over Syria, Cilicia and southern Asia Minor.
- Thanks to the political skill of Cleopatra and the iron fist of Mark Antony, Cyprus was attached to Egypt.
- They wage war against the Parthians and obtain the allegiance of Armenia and Medea.
Despite his forced marriage to Octavia, Octavian's sister, Mark Antony spends all his time with the woman he loves, Cleopatra. Many children will be born from this union.
From their first meeting begins one of the most famous love stories in the world, but also one of the most tragic.
B) ... ending in a tragic story
Thanks to his many triumphs, Mark Antony became one of the most popular men in Rome and the favourite of the senate. And unfortunately his popularity makes him an enemy of the ambitious Octavian.
Civil war breaks out and despite his numerical superiority and more seasoned troops than his opponent, Mark Antony does not manage to achieve victory.
It is finally at the naval battle of Actium that the couple's fate is sealed. On one side are the fleets of Octavian and Agrippa (General Octavian) and on the other side are those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. The battle of Actium is bitter and violent, the two sides confront each other in epic collisions colouring the sea in red.
Finally Mark Antony and Cleopatra are defeated and flee each with their fleets to Egypt. During his flight, Mark Antony is caught in a sudden storm and reaches Egypt much later than his lover 🌪️.
The battle of Actium is one of the most famous in history. Indeed it marks the fall of the second triumvirate and the beginning of the Roman Empire.
Upon his arrival, a rumour circulated that Cleopatra had not endured defeat and had taken her own life. Mark Antony is then grief-stricken and decides that if he cannot live with her in this world, he will join her in the other. So he takes up his sword and literally throws himself on 🗡️.
Unfortunately for Mark Antony, Cleopatra's death was only a rumour and so he committed suicide by the most unfortunate misunderstanding.
When Cleopatra falls on the lifeless body of her lover, she is devastated and decides to take her own life. As her enemies approached, she asked one of her servants to discreetly bring her a basket of figs, in which she had previously hidden a snake. Cleopatra plunges her hand into the basket, gets bitten and dies.
Thus ends the most tragic romance of antiquity worthy of the story of Romeo and Juliet.
After his defeat in Actium and the presumed death of his lover, Mark Antony feels doubly defeated. He prefers to die by his own hands to join the woman he loves rather than fall into those of his enemies.
The beauty of a queen passing through the ages to you!
You can now understand it, the love story of Mark Antony and Cleopatra stands out as a true Greek tragedy, but in Egypt. You now know that it was the rumours spread by the people that got the better of this famous romance.
Thanks to your reading, you also know who the emblematic Cleopatra is and her relationship with the great Roman general and politician, Mark Antony. This episode from antiquity, which inspired many tragic plays, holds no secrets for you!
But don't despair of this sad story! To cheer you up, we offer you magnificent paintings and statuettes to redecorate your interiors!
Discover without delay these decorations that will make you forget all your misfortunes! 🕯️