The End of Cleopatra’s Kingdom (Part 5)

deathcleopatraBecause there were no longer any siblings to get in Cleopatra’s way or to give her the burden of trying to overthrow her kingdom, Cleopatra was able to rule independently. This turned out to be a positive thing for Egypt. She was free to do what she wished. It was said that she was a compassionate ruler and she also helped to boost Egypt’s economy. She had achieved what others could not. She had broken almost 300 years of the Ptolemaic rule that had been filled with rebellion, riots, and high taxes. Now, it was different, the people of Alexandria liked Cleopatra. In addition, Cleopatra lowered taxes for farmers in hopes that many would work harder to produce large amounts of grain. She knew she would be in an advantageous position if she had a stable kingdom that produced excess grain and food.

Cleopatra truly cared for her people. She would once again prove her loyalty to her people by using the native tongue of the Egyptians. This of course was a wise move because it helped make her people like her and be loyal to her. Almost all the Ptolemaic kings before Cleopatra had not learned the people’s language and of course many of the people were insulted that they would not do so.

In addition, Cleopatra took the role as Isis — the goddess of the heavens. Of course this helped to make her even more popular among the Egyptian people. Here was this Greek person, yet she was associating herself with a popular and ancient goddess Isis. She went to great lengths to let them know that she was truly the “New Isis” and made many public appearances dressed as the goddess and also visited the temples quite frequently.

All this time that Cleopatra was ruling Egypt, Antony and Octavius agreed to keep the Triumvirate alive. They agreed that Antony would help Octavius defeat Sextus Pompeius, the son of Pompey who controlled Sicily. But instead, Octavius later asked Marcus Agrippa to lead the campaign against Sicily. The rumors of this change in strategy and of their disagreement over this change quickly spread throughout Rome. This made Antony flee to his territories. It so occurred, that right about this time Octavius’s sister fell ill. She was pregnant with Antony’s son and was sent home to Rome. Octavius was outraged that Antony had left and he took it as a personal insult.

Antony wanted to defeat Parthia but he missed Cleopatra so he returned to Egypt. Antony made another deal with Cleopatra to have a fleet of ships built and Cleopatra agreed. In return Antony appointed her the owner of his eastern territories. Cleopatra was now a queen, but a queen that held Egypt’s largest domain in history. Because of this, Antony caused a great scandal in his home country by giving this to Cleopatra and the citizens of Rome were again outraged. They believed the territories belonged to Rome and that Antony could not give them away and especially to Cleopatra – a non Roman. Rome had always disliked Cleopatra, and this new deal sealed the hated even more. To most citizens, she was a foreigner who trapped Rome’s great leaders with her riches and her life of pleasure. To add to Antony’s woes, although he wanted to badly destroy Parthia, he was not able to do so. He had been tricked halfway into this war campaign by the Armenian king and was forced to turn back. The war he longed for was out of his grasp.

Eventually Antony went after the king who betrayed him and paraded him through streets but kept him as a prisoner of war. While Antony was in Egypt living a life filled with glorious riches, Octavius was outraged at Antony giving away Rome’s territories. Many other people were just as angry about Antony’s decision and were easily persuaded to hate Antony. Because Octavius was so clever, he used propaganda to destroy Antony’s public image. Very quickly, citizens of Rome came to dislike the Egyptians and Cleopatra. Antony was quickly losing ground with the people of Rome and Octavius. Antony was aware that tensions were building up and that something had to be done.

Antony believed he could lead and win a campaign against Octavius and still continue to be with Cleopatra. Because he was so confident of his rank and military status, he decided to lead his army to the eastern seas of Greece. This would prove to be a mistake because Octavius led his fleet of ships and defeated Antony’s and Cleopatra’s fleet. And to top it off, all the surrounding empires that once supported Egypt now turned against it. They had to side with Rome to ensure their status as independent nations. They soon began to attack Egypt along its borders. Egypt was soon defeated.

Antony made one last ditch effort to regain his power by leading a small army against Octavius. This proved to be unsuccessful. Cleopatra, still the very smart independent ruler as always was hoping to bribe Octavius with her many gifts and riches so she sent Octavius many things. She was hoping that he would allow Egypt to remain independent. He accepted the gifts, of course, but this did not change his mind about how he felt about Cleopatra.

After the failure of Antony’s last attempt to regain his power, he received a false message that Cleopatra was dead. After all of this, Antony took his own life. In his last breath he asked Cleopatra not to pity him and then he died.

That day Octavius came to Egypt and he heard the news almost immediately that Antony was dead. He let Cleopatra attend the funeral and explained to her that she would be taken to Rome and paraded down the street just as her half sister Arsinoe.

Cleopatra would have her last say and she refused to be degraded in that manner so she asked one of her loyal servants to smuggle an Egyptian snake into her chambers knowing that she would allow the snake to bite her. The snake bite took her life and the Ptolemaic Dynasty was finally over. Cleopatra was the last pharaoh to rule Egypt.