6 Unbelievable Facts About Cleopatra You Probably Didn’t Know

Cleopatra is arguably the world’s most famous ruler; or at least one of them anyway.

515px-Cleopatra_-_John_William_Waterhouse Credit

But there are quite a lot of things that people don’t know about her life. Here are 6 relatively unknown facts about everyone’s favorite queen:

1. She was of Macedonian descent

Contrary to popular belief, Cleopatra wasn’t Egyptian. Well, she was technically born in Egypt but she was of Macedonian descent. She traced her roots to Ptolemy I Soter, who was Alexander the Great’s general and the one that took over Egypt after Alexander’s death in 323 B.C.

2. Cleopatra was the product of incest

Royal families are no strangers to incest and Cleopatra was one of many children born as a result of inter-family relations. All of her ancestors married siblings or cousins in order to remain ‘pureblood’ and it’s likely that her parents also did the same thing. Cleopatra continued the trend when she married both of her brothers.

3. She was more brains than beauty

Cleopatra was quite striking as a woman but she wasn’t the temptress that the Romans made her out to be. She was most renowned for her wisdom and intellect and not her physical appearance. According to old Egyptian sources, she was a ruler “who elevated the ranks of scholars and enjoyed their company.”

Credit Credit

4. She orchestrated the death of three of her siblings

While power grabs aren’t uncommon in royal families, they were almost a tradition with Cleopatra and her siblings. She tried to take sole possession of the throne and her brother-husband, Ptolemy XIII, had her kicked out of Egypt. She returned with Julius Caesar and after years of bloody Civil War, the two defeated Ptolemy in battle. She then married her younger brother, whom she later had murdered in order to make her son her co-ruler. She then murdered her sister, Arsinoe, because she believed that she conspired to usurp the throne.

5. She knew how to woo

Cleopatra was quite theatrical. She fancied herself a goddess and often arranged the use of clever stagecraft in order to impress her divine status on her potential allies. Upon Caesar’s arrival in Alexandria, she had herself smuggled in his chambers wrapped in a carpet. The Roman general was dazzled at the sight of a stunning young queen in his chambers that he agreed to aid her in the attempt to regain control of the throne. They also became lovers.

6. She was in Rome at the time of Caesar’s assassination

She followed Caesar back to Rome, which really angered some of his constituents. Caesar was quite proud of the fact that Cleopatra was his mistress, parading her in the city along with their lovechild, Caesarion. He even erected a gilded statue of her in the temple of Venus Genetrix, which outraged Roman officials. She was forced to flee the city after Caesars assassination in 44 B.C.