Who hailed the “queen of kings”, the daughter of Ptolemy XII ruled Egypt for over two decades in 1st Century B.C.?

Cleopatra VII was the last ruler of Egypt before it was annexed as a province of Rome. Although arguably the most famous Egyptian queen, Cleopatra was actually Greek and a member of the Ptolemaic Dynasty which ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great. Cleopatra is probably best known for her love affair with the Roman general and statesman Mark Antony as well as her earlier affair with Julius Caesar (l. 100-44 BCE) but was a powerful queen before her interaction with either and a much stronger monarch than any of the later Ptolemaic Dynasty.

In June of 323 BCE, Alexander the Great died and his vast empire was divided among his generals. One of these generals was Ptolemy I Soter (r. 323-282 BCE), a fellow Macedonian, who would found the Ptolemaic Dynasty in ancient Egypt. The Ptolemaic line, of Macedonian-Greek ethnicity, would continue to rule Egypt until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE when it was taken by Rome. Ptolemy I, Ptolemy II (r. 285-246 BCE), and Ptolemy III (r. 246-222 BCE) governed Egypt well, but after them, their successors ruled poorly until Cleopatra came to the throne. In fact, the difficulties she had to overcome were primarily the legacy of her predecessors.

Cleopatra VII Philopator was born in 69 BCE and ruled jointly with her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes. When she was 18 years old, her father died, leaving her the throne. Because Egyptian tradition held that a woman needed a male consort to reign, her twelve-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII, was ceremonially married to her. Cleopatra soon dropped his name from all official documents, however, and ruled alone.


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