Cleopatra VII, also known as the Cleopatra, knew what she wanted and who to sleep with to get it.  She was born in Egypt, 69 BC.  Cleopatra’s family, the Ptolemies, were Macedonian, and usually made of point of it.  (Once you resort to marrying your siblings, you’ve made your point.)  She was different, actually taking the time to learn Egyptian and claim she was a reincarnation of the goddess Isis, two basic steps towards becoming a woman of the people.

Cleopatra began co-rule of Egypt with her father when she was just fourteen.  She probably didn’t get to do much, but being Queen of one of the oldest civilizations in the world can be a heady experience at any age, and she liked it.  When her father died, she had no intention of sharing with her brother/husband, Ptolemy XIII.  She put her face on the coins until a court plot dethroned her, and she had to leave in a hurry.

Ptolemy managed to get on the bad side of a small figure known as Julius Caesar, however, and lost the Egyptian capital to him.  Cleopatra knew a winner when she saw one and nine months later gave birth to someone she liked to call Caesarion, or “Little Caesar”.  Caesar coincidentally decided about then to support Cleopatra’s bid for the Egyptian throne.  She got it, but only alongside another little Ptolemy, this time XIV. (XIII happened to have drowned in the Nile by then.  One less to worry about, for Cleopatra.)

Cleopatra’s visit to Rome got a bit fouled up when Caesar was assassinated, but it gave her a chance to go home and find Ptolemy XIV filled with poison.  She then had her son made co-ruler, this time one without the creepy incestuous factor.

Searching about the landscape of Roman politics, Cleopatra found another one-true-love in Mark Antony, Caesar’s pal.  She gave birth to twins, and Antony moved in full-time.  Together they conquered enough territory in the East to scare the togas off Rome, and give Octavian Caesar justification to knock down Egypt’s door. There’s some argument about whether she committed suicide via snake or not, when Octavian’s forces came, but the result was the same.  She must have figured that the chances of seducing all three of her age’s most powerful men were pretty slim.

Cleopatra’s life shows us that even Queens can be caught defining themselves through the men they sleep with.  It’s a vicious cycle!

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