The Story of Queen Cleopatra, ancient Egypt, Caesar and Rome

The assassination of her lover and protector, Julius Caesar, spelled doom for Queen Cleopatra and there was not a helper in sight.

The Roman citizens rioted against her and the aristocracy saw as a threat to their peace.

The Most Wicked Women of The Old World...Season 1 ..Episode 4

The assassination of her lover and mighty protector, Julius Caesar, spelled doom for Queen Cleopatra.

Public reaction against her was swift and clear. Hardly was Caesar’s corpse cold before her golden statue in the Temple of Venus was attacked, toppled and destroyed. That wasn’t the least of it though. Her pride was soon dealt a bigger blow – Caesar’s will have made no mention of her or their son who she fondly imagined he would make his heir. In the uproar that followed the death of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra decided that Rome was no place for her and so set sail for Egypt leaving the Romans to fight it out among themselves.

At home Cleopatra found crisis: the crops had failed and famine threatened.  She threw herself into the task of restoring order and public confidence in herself. She nearly emptied her treasury in buying up all available grain for fair distribution and thus regained the favor of the people. The following season, the Nile overflowed abundantly upon the land and all was well again.

Across the sea in Italy, a reign of terror was raging and it did not settle down until the Battle of Philippi destroyed the old guard of the Republican Party, the corrupt Roman aristocracy, firmly establishing the Triumvirate of Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus as unchallenged rulers of Rome.

Lepidus was clearly a lightweight, and with the future of her country at stake, Cleopatra had to balance her attractions for Octavian and Antony. The choice was a political one and not personal. And as all the world knows now, Cleopatra chose the wrong man.

It has been suggested by many historians that Cleopatra’s choice of General Mark Antony, formerly second in command to Julius Caesar, was influenced by the fact that Mark Antony was an extremely handsome man with a cheerful nature. They feel that Cleopatra, having been alone for nearly two years since returning from Rome after Caesar’s death was swept off her feet by the charms of the handsome general who was being toasted by all of Rome as the hero of the Battle of Philippi.

Whichever it didn't really matter. Antony soon sent an ambassador to invite Cleopatra to join him at Tarsus and the decision was made. Cleopatra decided to dazzle him with the splendors of Egypt. She didn’t just pay him the visit, she fitted out an entire expedition and gave Antony the full treatment, complete with her personal fleet to back her up.

Mark Antony, aged forty at the time, was no Julius Caesar. He was, in fact, a magnetic mediocrity but above all things, he was a sensualist.

Cleopatra made a star’s entrance aboard her royal gallery with the famous ‘purple sails’ of Tyre, gracefully declined his invitation to go ashore and dine with him and instead insisted on doing him the honor aboard her wonder ship.

Once aboard the gallery, Mark Antony was hooked. He went right back for ‘dinner’ for two more nights straight before Cleopatra would allow him feast her ashore. Her aim was entirely political, of course; to persuade Antony to form an alliance with her against Octavian, an alliance that would see her son’s succession to the throne of Rome as Caesar’s heir.

And so the days and nights passed in feasting and sexual pleasures until Cleopatra’s web was woven inextricably around the captive Mark Antony. When she was sure her fly was secured, she made her demands and one of them stunned him: she insisted that her sister, Arsinoe, whom she had last seen dragged through the streets of Rome in chains, but whose life had been spared even by her worst enemies, the Romans, should be put to death.

Arsinoe had taken refuge in the temple of Diana in Ephesus but the long arm of sisterly hate reached out even to that shrine. Arsinoe was slain at the altar.

Certain now that Mark Antony, the most powerful general in Rome, was her slave and would refuse her nothing, Cleopatra proceeded to manipulate him like a puppet to press forward her ambitions which had been thwarted by the untimely end of Julius Caesar.

And so, it was that this lovely Egyptian queen set off the chain of events that led to her own untimely end. 

To Be Continued.....

READ: Part 5 Here

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