Hey everyone! Welcome to all you newcomers and welcome back to everyone else glad to have you here for this special episode 30 of the Biography Podcast - Stories of Life. Today, I'm finally back, and I'm profiling our second woman in a row as our subject! I hope you enjoy it.
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Cleopatra. The name conjures up images of a beautiful, exotic woman. A seductress of two of the most powerful men in Rome. It also conjures up images of a defiant death. Legend has it that in order to avoid being at the complete and totla mercy of the ruthless general Octavian, who was also her greatest enemy, she closed herself off in her chambers and had an Egyptian asp bite her on the arm, it's poison threading through her body and killing her within minutes.
But who is the true woman behind the legend? The seductress? The skilled politician? Did she truly kill herself the way that legend says she did? We shall soon see.
Cleopatra was born at the beginning of 69 B.C. or at the end of 70 B.C. in Egypt. Cleopatra, although known as Egypt's greatest Queen, had not even the smallest drop of Egyptian blood. She and her entire family,which consisted of several siblings, was what was called Macedonian Greek. "Dark" Greek but Greek in customs, tradition, and language. She also spoke several other tongues besides her own, including Arabic and Egyptian. Egyptian being a langage that her predecessors didn't even bother to learn. She could also read hieroglyphs.
At the age of seventeen, cleopatra became co-regent or co-ruler of Egypt with her ten year old brother Ptomely and following his death after a massive Civil War she married her younger brother, Ptomely XIV who was only six years old. This meant that Cleopatra, the eldest of the two, was the supreme ruler.
Cleopatra turned out to be very good at politics and was able to bring prosperity and peaceful times to a country which had become poverty stricken and torn apart by war. But it was only the beginning.
Cleopatra met Julius Ceasar when she was twenty one years old. Ceasar was charmed by the youthful and intelligent woman and took her to Rome with him. Thus began the most famous affair in history. One historian states that contary to popular view, Cleopatra only allied with him because of shared political views rather then romantic love. Nevertheless, a year or two later she bore him a son named Cesarion, though Ceasar never publicly acknowledged him as his son much to Cleopatra's dismay.
A few years later, Ceasar was assasinated and Cleopatra left Rome and returned to Egypt once more. In order to have full power of the throne and have sole control of Egypt, Cleopatra murdered her brother who had been ruling in her abscence and appointed Cesarion, her son, to the throne.
In 41 B.C., Mark Antony, whom Cleopatra had met a few years before, summouned her to meet him in Tarsus. Thus began Cleopatra's second love affair. However, historians say that her interest in Mark Antony was not purely political as it had been with Ceasar but was born of a true romantic interest in him. It is shown in records of the time that the two lovers returned to Egypt and were married in the Egyptian tradition and had three children, two sons and a daughter, by their union. It seemed that Cleopatra had finally found happiness, but sadly, it was not to last.
On September 2, a few years after they were married, Cleopatra and Mark Antony combined armies to take on the forces of Rome that were controlled by Octavian, a ruthless Roman general who had become over time Cleopatra's worst enemy.
Facing defeat, it has been said until recently that in an act of incredible cowardice, Cleopatra turned and fled the battle. Now, according to records recently uncovered it is now said amongst historians that her escaping was a part of a planned maneuver rather then cowardice on her part. Antony, seeing Cleopatra's escape, decided to abandon his fleet and follow her as she made her return to Egypt. They lived in relative safety there for nearly a year.
However, Octavian was ruthless and pursued Antony to Egypt where Antony's troops deserted him after Octavian's appearance in Egypt. Mark Antony found himself in a hopeless situation and he chose to take his own life. Cleopatra became a virtual prisoner of Octavian and he planned to parade her around Rome To make sure everyone knew how great of a general he truly was. Cleopatra however had other plans.
Just eleven days after Mark Antony's death, Cleopatra herself comitted suicids in her chambers in Rome virtually ruining Octavian's plans. In the end, it was she who had the last word.
Though legend suggests that Cleopatra ended her life through the bite of an Egyptian asp, some hisotrians aren't so sure. There are some who debate that she could have taken some kind of poison to end her life. As for her children by Marc Antony, no one truly knows what became of them. Yet another enticing mystery in the life of one of the most extraordinary women in history.