Would you like to discover the link between Cleopatra and Mark Antony? Do you want to immerse yourself in the Egyptian tragedy involving the latter two? Or understand how their alliance changed the future of ancient Egypt?
Passionate about ancient Egypt, we are here to answer all these questions.
The history of Cleopatra and Mark Antony 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) The last pharaoh 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 of Cleopatra.
A) Who is Cleopatra?
It can be important to underline that there were many "Cleopatra" in the history of Egypt. Yet, here we will only talk about the most famous of them all: Cleopatra VII. Born in 69 BC, she is the daughter of the pharaoh Ptolemy XII and has two brothers and one sister.
From an early age, she was immersed in the world of Egyptian politics, observing her father's reign with great attention. She witnessed numerous political plots and learned lessons from the latter that would later serve her in numerous intrigues during her own reign.
Cleopatra possesses many assets that captivated hearts from her youth:
- She is extremely intelligent, persuasive and has a real gift for convincing and persuading her peers, but also for manipulating them when necessary.
- Physically, Cleopatra is of unequaled beauty, often described as "divine".
- She is not only beautiful, she has a brilliant mind, speaks many languages and is one of the most cultured women of her time.
Cleopatra knew how to turn the heads of many people, especially the Romans. In this representation, we can see Cleopatra pictured 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: very few things, as her accession to the throne of Egypt will show.
B) Her ascension to the throne of Egypt
Upon the death of her father, she is declared heiress. However, she cannot reign alone. She therefore shares power with her younger brother (whom she marries according to the Ptolemaic tradition, a Greek and Egyptian tradition authorizing 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 rumors and political intrigues. But nothing works as planned. As her brother is a man, he is the favorite of the powerful ones in Egypt. Cleopatra is forced to flee to Syria.
That's when Julius Caesar comes in. 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 consul and that he will become her first love.
It is thanks to the mysterious death by drowning 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 once again one of the most powerful regions of antiquity.
2) Cleopatra and Mark Antony
You will have understood that Cleopatra is a wonderful woman full of power and ambition. Yet, Cleopatra lacks some real assets to become the undisputed queen she aspires to be: a large army and a powerful husband. By chance or by fate, she finds these two assets 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 (including a large part of the Egyptian territory annexed by Rome).
Mark Antoine was animated by major projects in the East 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. 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 expensive boat of her fleet and surrounded by her most beautiful maidservants disguised as Greek nymphs.
Together, bound together by a fusional love, Cleopatra and Mark Antony will accomplish great things:
- They re-founded the great Lagid kingdom" (the name of the immense kingdom of Egypt of one Alexander the Great's former general, the pharaoh Ptolemy I Soter) 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 taken over by Egypt from Rome.
- They wage war against the Parthians and obtain the allegiance of Armenia and Medea.
Despite his forced marriage to Octavia, the sister of the important Roman consul Octavian, Mark Antony spends all his time with the woman he loves, Cleopatra. Six 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) The suicide of Cleopatra
Thanks to his many military triumphs, Mark Antony became one of the most popular men in Rome and the favorite of the senate. Unfortunately, his popularity makes him an enemy of the ambitious Octavian.
Civil war breaks out. 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 (a general of Octavian very experienced in maritime battles) 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 intense collisions coloring the sea in red.
Finally, Mark Antony and Cleopatra are defeated and flee each with their fleets to Egypt. During his escape, 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 antique history. Indeed, it marks the beginning of the Roman Empire (with Octavian as the first Roman emperor).
Upon his arrival, a rumor circulated that Cleopatra had not endured defeat and had taken her own life. Mark Antony is overwhelmed by grief 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 rumor, 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 will have previously hidden a snake. Cleopatra plunges her hand into the basket, gets bitten and dies.
Thus ends the most tragic romance of antiquity.
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 history of Cleopatra and Mark Antony!
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 rumors spread by the people of Egypt 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.
But don't despair over this sad story! To cheer you up, you will find on our site a wide range of rings, bracelets, and necklaces linked to the history of Mark Antony and Cleopatra!