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We continue with five famous Cleopatras! These coming stories will be about Incest, Family Murder and Tragedy.

1. Cleopatra III., The Ruthless Queen

Like Mother like daughter. Born as Cleopatra Euergetis, she was no different in terms of power consciousness. She was even considered one of the more ruthless and cruel members of the Ptolemaic Family. She must have been between 15 and 20 when her uncle and stepfather Ptolemy VIII. married her. There are several reasons why he took his niece for a wife. On the one hand it is said that it was out of love or because her mother was no longer of fertile age and on the other hand she is said to have been raped by her uncle. After the first civil war between her uncle and her mother, she fled with him in 130 BC to Cyprus. With Ptolemy Cleopatra III. had at least 5 children: the sons were named Ptolemy and only one daughter was not named Cleopatra. As we know, her husband succeeded in retaking Egypt, and until 116 BC, when Ptolemy died, they ruled the kingdom. Although Cleopatra preferred her younger son as co-regent, her mother was able to prevail and her older son, Ptolemy Soter, became king. When her mother, who is said to have been murdered by Cleopatra, died, she ruled jointly with her son.

With Cleopatra III. it became increasingly apparent that it were the Ptolemaic women who seized more power. This should also pave the way for the later famous Cleopatra (VII). Cleopatra III. was ruling alone and had so much power that she forced her son to divorce his sisterwife, Cleopatra IV. He was then forced to marry his other sister, Cleopatra Selene. This was probably because the younger daughter was more tractable than the strong-willed Cleopatra IV., who fled to Syria. Although mother and son ruled together in the years to come, there were supposed to have been several conflicts. 107 BC Cleopatra III. succeeded to drive away her hated son and her favorite son Ptolemy X. (see picture) became king. However, it was not enough for her because she had a fleet sent to Cyprus to capture her banished son. She succeeded in doing so, but he was able to escape and an assassination attempt failed as well. Her oldest son finally managed to set up an army and moved with to Egypt. Cleopatra, however, defeated her son and ruled until 101 BC. Like her mother, she was apparently murdered by her own child, her favorite son Ptolemy Alexander. Historians believe this assumption to be plausible, as there had also been more conflicts between Cleopatra and her younger son. 

2. Cleopatra IV., Expelled Queen

Here we have the daughter and granddaughter of the previous Cleopatras. This Cleopatra was, as we know, the daughter of Cleopatra III. and her uncle-husband Ptolemy VIII., born between 138 and 135 BC. Traditionally she was married to her brother Ptolemy Soter. A few years after the marriage, she was forcibly divorced by their mother, so that he could marry his younger sister. It is believed that Cleopatra IV. was the mother of Cleopatra Berenice. Other historians believe that Cleopatra was also the mother of two sons of Ptolemy Soter. The outcast Cleopatra did not stay single for a long time, because only a little later she married her cousin Antiochus IX. (see picture) of the Seleucid Empire. As a dowry, she brought with her an army from Cyprus to help her new husband conquer the throne of the Seleucid kingdom. Due to her good contacts to the commanders, she was able to recruit the army easily.

The couple married in 115 BC and had a son: Antiochus X.
Although her husband was now strengthened with the new army and moved against his half-brother Antiochus VIII., he lost the battle. Cleopatra was not with her husband and had to flee after his defeat. She sought refuge in an Temple of Apollo, where she believed she was safe.

However the holy law was not respected and Cleopatra was murdered.

It is believed that it was her own sister, Tryphaina who gave the murder order. She was the wife of Antiochus VIII. Just one year later, her sister was captured and executed by Cleopatra's widower.

3. Cleopatra V., Queen of Egypt and Syria

Cleopatra V. was the granddaughter, daughter and sister of a Cleopatra. She was born as Selene, daughter of Cleopatra III. We have already learned that she was married to her brother Ptolemy Soter, after he had to divorce from her older sister. Unlike her expelled sister, Selene received the all honors of a queen, but was virtually powerless. Because her mother did her best to keep Cleopatra Selene away from government business. With her brother-husband she is said to have had two sons, with whom she remained in Egypt, after Ptolemy Soter fled to Cyprus. 103 BC she married the Seleucid Antiochus VIII., the widower of her other sister Tryphaina. A few years later her husband died and the new king, Antiochus IX., married her, who had previously been married to her older sister of the same name. He also fell in battle soon afterwards, whereupon she married her stepson/nephew Antiochus X. With him she got two sons. When her fourth and last husband died, she left Syria and went to Cilicia (see picture). After 80 BC the Egyptian king was murdered and she was the only legitimate member of the Ptolemaic family. Therefore, she raised claim to the throne for her sons, but failed. Like her sisters, Cleopatra Selene's life ended cruelly. 69 BC She was besieged by the Armenian King Tigranes II. and after the conquest of the city, she was captured and killed. 

4. Cleopatra VI., Mother(?) of the famous Cleopatra

 Well then. We are closer to the famous Cleopatra (see picture), who will always be remembered in history. Because this Cleopatra here could have been her mother. Generally we do not know much about the Cleopatra VI. and her origins. However, she is the only known wife of Ptolemy XIII., father of the famous Cleopatra. It is believed that Cleopatra VI. actually was born as Tryphaina and only after becoming queen accepted the traditional royal name. It is speculated that the born Tryphaina was the daughter of Ptolemy IX. and thus a (half) sister of her spouse. As her origin it is also uncertain whether the famous Cleopatra was her daughter or not. But it is certain that Berenice IV. was her daughter, who became Queen after her father was expelled as king. It is even said that Cleopatra Tryphaina ruled together with her daughter. Ptolemy XIII. however regained his throne and executed his daughter. There is no further information about Cleopatra VI., which is why it is believed that she had died after ruling for one year of natural causes. 

5. Cleopatra Selene, Daughter of the famous Cleopatra

Cleopatra Selene (II.) is the only daughter of the famous Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, being born in 40 BC. She had a twin brother, Alexander Helios, an older brother, Cesarion, and a younger brother named Ptolemy Philadelphos. As her parents committed suicide in 30 BC, she and her brothers became orphans. They were spared by their parent's enemy, the later Augustus, and were presented in Rome as trophies in the triumphal procession. The siblings were then placed in the care of Octavia, the sister of Augustus and ex-wife of Mark Anthony. There are no more informations about the further life of her brothers and probably they died young. However, it is known that Cleopatra Selene grew up with her half-siblings in Octavia's care. Between 20 and 25 BC she was married to Juba II., King of Mauritania (now Morocco and Algeria). By her marriage, she became the queen of Mauritania and was sometimes depicted alone on coins, which shows the classic power consciousness of the Ptolemaic dynasty. With Juba she had at least one son, Ptolemy, and probably a daughter. We know very little about the daughter of the famous Cleopatra, but Cleopatra Selene obviously lived undisturbed under Roman radar. Perhaps she died around 5 BC, as her husband married for a second time at 1 AD. But there are speculations that Cleopatra Selene even lived until 18 AD. Her son Ptolemy was the last king of Mauritania and only had one child: a daughter named Drusilla. 

Which story was most fascinating for you? Do you think, that descendants of Cleopatra VII. survived and lived long after her through her daughter's and granddaughter's line? Let me know in the comments

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One Comment

  • The Trajanator

    Guter Beitrag, wie immer. Wenn man das Schicksal von Kleopatras (VII.) Sohn Caesarion betrachtet, kam Kleopatra Selene eh glimpflich davon. Denn der berühmte Caesar war ja der Vater von Caesarion und Octavian konnte sich logischerweise keinen ebenso legitimen Prätendenten neben sich leisten.

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