***Alexander Helios, which meant the sun, was named Great King of the Seleucid empire when it was at its highest. Cleopatra Selene, which meant the moon, was called Queen of Cyrenaica and Crete. Cleopatra and Antony's son, Ptolemy Philadelphos was named King of Syria and Asia Minor at the age of two.***
Here is a precis, which I obviously needed, but perhaps we all do:
Cleopatra was invited by Mark Antony to Tarsus in 41 BC. She already knew enough about him to know how to get to him. She knew about his limited strategic and tactical abilities, his blue blood, the drinking, his womanizing, his vulgarity and his ambition. Even though Egypt was on the verge of economic collapse, Cleopatra put on a show for Mark Antony that even Ptolemy Philadelphos couldn't have done better. She sailed with silver oars, purple sails with her Erotes fanning her and the Nereid handmaids steering and she was dressed as Aphrodite, the goddess of love. This was a very calculated entrance; considered vulgar by many. It was a vulgar display to attract the attention of a vulgar man. Mark Antony loved the idea of having a blue-blooded Ptolemy woman. His former mistress as well as his current wife, Fulvia, were merely middle class.
Cleopatra and Antony spent the winter of 41 to 40 in Alexandria. According to some sources, Cleopatra could get out of him whatever she wanted, including the assassination of her sister, Arsinoe. Cleopatra may not have had so much influence over him later on. He took control of Cyprus from her. Actually it may have been Cleopatra who was the exploited one. Antony needed money and Cleopatra could be generous when it benefited her as well.
In the spring of 40 BC, Mark Antony left Cleopatra and returned home. He did not see her for four years. Antony's wife, Fulvia had gotten into a serious movement against Octavian over veterans' allotments of land. She fled to Greece and had a bitter confrontation with Antony. She became ill and died there. Antony patched things up with Octavian that same autumn by marrying Octavian's sister, Octavia. She was a beautiful and intelligent woman who had been recently widowed. She had three children from her first marriage. In the meantime, Cleopatra had given birth to twins, one boy and one girl, in Alexandria. Antony's first child by Octavia was a girl. Had Octavia given him a son, things might have turned out different. Antony kept the idea of the treasures of the Ptolemies and how much he wanted it. When he finally did get the treasures, the standard interest rate in Rome fell from 12 percent to 4.
Mark Antony left Italy and went to deal with the Parthians. Octavia had just had another daughter and went with him just as far as Corcyra. He gave her the excuse that he did not want to expose her to the dangers of the battles and sent her home. He told her that she would be more use to him at home in Rome keeping peace with her brother, Octavian. However, the first thing that he did when he reached Antioch, was to send for Cleopatra. Their twin children were officially recognized by Antony and were given the names of Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. Mark Antony gave her much land which was very essential to Egypt. He gave her Cyprus, the Cilician coast, Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, Judea and Arabia. This allowed Egypt to be able to build ships from the lumber from Cilician coast. Egypt then built a large fleet. Antony had planned a campaign against the Parthians. He obviously needed Cleopatra's support for this and in 36 BC, he was defeated. He became more indebted to her than ever. They had just had a third child.
On their return to Syria, she met him and what was left of his army, with food, clothing and money. Early in 35 BC, he returned to Egypt with her. Antony's wife, Octavia was in Athens with supplies and reinforcements waiting for her husband. He sent her a letter telling her to not come any further. Her brother, Octavian, tried to provoke Antony into a fight. Octavian would release troops as well as ships to try to force Antony into a war, which, by this time was almost inevitable. Antony might have been able to patch things up with Octavia and her brother had he returned to Rome in 35 BC. Cleopatra probably did her best to keep him in Alexandria. Octavia remained completely loyal to Antony through all of this.
In 34 BC, Antony had a campaign into Armenia, which was successful and financially rewarding. He celebrated his triumph with a parade through Alexandria with Cleopatra presiding over as the New Isis. Antony presented himself as the New Dionysus as part of his dream of the Graeco-Roman rule. Within a few days, a more political ceremony took place in which the children were given their royal titles with Antony sitting on the throne as well. Ptolemy XV (Caesarion) was made the co-ruler with his mother and was called the King of Kings. Cleopatra was called the Queen of Kings, which was a higher position than that of Caesarion's. Alexander Helios, which meant the sun, was named Great King of the Seleucid empire when it was at its highest. Cleopatra Selene, which meant the moon, was called Queen of Cyrenaica and Crete. Cleopatra and Antony's son, Ptolemy Philadelphos was named King of Syria and Asia Minor at the age of two. Cleopatra had dreams of becoming the Empress of the world. She was very close to achieving these dreams and her favorite oath was, "As surely as I shall yet dispense justice on the Roman Capital."
In 32 to 31 BC, Antony finally divorced Octavia. This forced the Western part of the world to recognize his relationship with Cleopatra. He had already put her name and face on a Roman coin, the silver denarii. The denarii was widely circulated throughout the Mediterranean. By doing this, Antony's relationship with the Roman allegiance was ended and Octavian decided to publish Antony's will. Octavian then formally declared war against Cleopatra. Antony's name was nowhere mentioned in the official declaration. Many false accusations were made against Cleopatra saying that she was a harlot and a drunken Oriental. These accusations were most likely made out of fear of Cleopatra and Antony. Many probably thought that the New Isis would prevail and that Antony would start up a new wave of world conquest and rule in a co-partnership from Alexandria. However, Octavian's navy severely defeated Antony in Actium, which is in Greece, on September 2, 31 BC. Octavian's admiral, Agrippa, planned and carried out the defeat. In less than a year, Antony half-heartedly defended Alexandria against the advancing army of Octavian. After the defeat, Antony committed suicide by falling on his own sword in 30 BC.
After Antony's death, Cleopatra was taken to Octavian where her role in Octavian's triumph was carefully explained to her. He had no interest in any relationship, negotiation or reconciliation with the Queen of Egypt. She would be displayed as a slave in the cities she had ruled over. She must have had memories of her sister, Arsinoe, being humiliated in this way. She would not live this way, so she had an asp, which was an Egyptian cobra, brought to her hidden in a basket of figs. She died on August 12, 30 BC at the age of 39. The Egyptian religion declared that death by snakebite would secure immortality. With this, she achieved her dying wish, to not be forgotten. The only other ruler to cast a shadow on the fascination with Cleopatra was Alexander who was another Macedonian. After Cleopatra's death, Caesarion was strangled and the other children of Cleopatra were raised by Antony's wife, Octavia.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.