She was a member of the Ptolemaicdynasty, and therefore a descendant of one of Alexander the Great's generals who had seized control over Egypt after Alexander's death. Most Ptolemeis spoke Greek and refused to learn Egyptian,which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian languages were used on official court documents like the Rosetta Stone. By contrast, Cleopatra learned Egyptian and represented herself as thereincarnation of an Egyptian Goddess.
Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptiancustom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion,to co-ruler in name.
After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony,she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Her unions with her brothers produced no children. After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian'sforces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC. She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declaredpharaoh, but he was soon killed on Octavian's orders. Egypt became the Roman province of Aegyptus.
To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture. Her legacy survives in numerousworks of art and the many dramatizations of her story in literature and other media, including William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, Jules Massenet's opera Cléopâtre and the 1963 film...