Interesting And Strange Facts About The Queen Of the Nile, Cleopatra

By: Calla Conway | Last updated: Oct 24, 2023

People all over the world have been fascinated by Cleopatra for centuries. Movies and books have been created by this Egyptian Queen and her extraordinarily intense strategy and leadership style.

However, there is plenty of information, some still revealing itself, that tells us we still have a lot more to learn about Cleopatra. Here’s a list of some unique facts you might not already know about the most iconic Queen of the Nile.

Cleopatra Was Not Ethnically Egyptian

Although Cleopatra raised in Egypt, her genetic and familial ties were traced back to Macedonia, Greece. She was the heir of a general of Alexander the Great, Ptolemy I Soter. Ptolemy subsequently ruled in Egypt after Alexander’s death, initiating a dynasty of Ancient Greek-speaking rulers that would last for three centuries.

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Despite not being born in Egypt, the Queen of the Nile learned and embraced the ancient customs of her home country. Another feat, among many others includes Cleopatra’s standing as the first member of her familial line to learn the native language of Egypt.

She Was The Product

In most royal houses of the Ptolemaic dynasty, preserving the bloodline was of the utmost importance. In this way, it is said that Cleopatra was a product. More than a dozen of Cleopatra’s ancestors had children with cousins or even siblings. Furthermore, in a perhaps shocking twist, it is likely that Cleopatra’s parents were siblings themselves.

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Cleopatra maintained this tradition, marrying both of her adolescent brothers during different times throughout her reign as queen. And of course, both brothers are recorded as serving as ceremonial spouses at different times.

Political Propaganda Created Cleopatra's Reputation As Someone Who Relied Only On Looks

During her reign, Roman propaganda painted Cleopatra as a seductress who used sex appeal as a powerful political weapon. However, it is now known that she was actually quite intelligent. She spoke a dozen or more languages and was highly educated in mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy.

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Plutarch, an ancient writer, wrote that Cleopatra’s looks alone were not what made her particularly desirable. Instead, it was the way she conducted herself. She was also said to have a beautiful singing voice and was incredibly charismatic.

She Was Involved In The Deaths of Some Of Her Siblings

Grasping for power, as well as pre-meditated betrayal and even murder were just as much a Ptolemaic tradition as marrying within the family. Cleopatra’s first brother (and husband at the time) tried to take sole possession of her throne by running her out of Egypt. He subsequently drowned in the Nile river after a civil war face-off.

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Cleopatra then married her younger brother, but it is believed she had him murdered in a bid to grant her son sole power of the throne. And finally, she arranged the execution of her sister, who Cleopatra considered a rival to the throne.

Cleopatra Believed She Was A Goddess

The Queen of the Nile definitely knew how to make an entrance. She enjoyed using clever theatrics in order to persuade potential allies and promote her status of perceived divinity. When Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria, for example, Cleopatra wrapped herself in a linen sack and had herself smuggled into his personal living quarters. Julius Caesar was completely entranced by her, and the two quickly became allies and lovers.

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Cleopatra spared no cost on her entrance when she met Mark Antony. When she was summoned to Rome, she arrived on a golden ship with purple sails and rowed by oars of silver. Her garb was designed to mimic the goddess, Aphrodite. Because Antony considered himself to be the manifestation of the Greek god Dionysis, he was enchanted by the display.

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Cleopatra Was Living In Rome When Caesar Was Assassinated

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra’s affair was not hidden and many knew that Cleopatra was his mistress. She would often travel to Rome with their child, and many Romans were shocked by the statue of the Queen he placed in the temple of Venus Genetrix.

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Cleopatra was forced to flee Rome when Caesar was stabbed to death. However, her unique fashion style impacted the Roman women, who began to adopt her hairstyles and love of pearl jewelry. Since so many women jumped on this trend created by Cleopatra, there are statues of Roman women that have been mistaken for Queen herself! 

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Mark Antony And Cleopatra Had Their Own Drinking Club

Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s relationship reportedly had strong political ties, but it was clear that they enjoyed each other’s company. According to interpretations of ancient sources, it was determined that they spent winter in Egypt indulging in “leisure and excess.”

 

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The duo formed a drinking society called the “Inimitable Livers.” It may seem obvious that the purpose of this group was centered on relaxation by drinking wine and eating feasts of incredible proportions. The group allegedly would have these opulent events nightly, incorporating games and contests as well. Cleopatra and Mark Antony would sometimes unwind from royal duties by walking the streets of Egypt incognito, playing pranks on Egyptian residents. 

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She Led a Fleet in a Naval Battle

Not in defense of her territory but in defense of love. Cleopatra later married Mark Anthony, a distinguished army commander of the Roman Empire. 

Source: Wikipedia

When Anthony’s rival, Octavian labeled him a traitor under the spell of the Egyptian Queen, Anthony became the number one Roman enemy. In the battle between the two men, Cleopatra led the charge of several dozens of Egyptian warships in her lover’s defense. 

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She Was the Seventh Queen Cleopatra

Many people aren’t aware that the Cleopatra we all talk about wasn’t the only Egyptian Queen with the name. In the years before she ascended the throne, there had been seven more with the same name from the same Ptolemaic dynasty.

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That’s why she bore the title Queen Cleopatra VII. Her full name was Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator. This is the Greek for “the father-loving Goddess.”

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Cleopatra Wasn't the Original Heir to Her Father's Throne

When her father Ptolemy XII passed on in 51 BC, Cleopatra ascended the throne at the young age of eighteen. But it is interesting to note that she had an elder sister who was next in line to take over.

Source: Wikipedia

Berenice had passed on before her father did, leaving the position for her younger sister, Cleopatra. Cleopatra had to hurriedly take on some new education and embark on an international tour to prepare herself for the great responsibility.

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Caesar Fell in Love With Her Voice

There are numerous qualities Cleopatra possessed that made her attractive. But every man has his particular weakness. For Julius Caesar, it was her voice rather than her famed beauty that captivated his heart.

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According to a famous historian, Cassius Duo, Caesar fell in love with the queen as soon as he heard her speak. How unique was her voice? We will never know.

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She Went on a Romantic Trip With Caesar

After they both fell in love, Cleopatra and Julius Caesar planned a romantic getaway on a ship through the river Nile. It was a trip intended to celebrate their hold on their respective territories and their deep love.

Source: Wikipedia

Albert Angela, a famous Roman historian, penned the following about the trip. “This certainly was a unique event in the history of the Mediterranean. Two of the most famous figures in history taking a romantic trip to one of the most fascinating places on the planet. It’s like something out of a novel.”

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There's Uncertainty as to How Cleopatra Died

Cleopatra and Mark Antony are said to have taken their own lives in 30 B.C. while on the run. Legend says that Marc Antony stabbed himself in the stomach, but Cleopatra’s method of taking her own life has been debated. As the story goes, she might have died by antagonizing what was thought to be a viper or a cobra, causing it to bite her in the arm. 

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However, ancient writer Plutarch wrote that only one person on the planet will ever know the truth of Cleopatra’s passing. Some also claim that she kept a deadly poison in her hair comb. Other Egyptologists suggest that she could have used a pin dipped in venom or another potent toxin. That no one truly knows how Cleopatra passed. 

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The 1963 Movie About Cleopatra Was One Of the Most Expensive, Ever

The Queen of the Nile was played by many heavy hitters on the silver screen. Women liked Claudette Colbert and Sophia Loren acted in her likeness, but the most famous was done by Elizabeth Taylor. Cleopatra was made in 1963 and was famously played by Elizabeth Taylor. The film had many production problems, issues with the script, and its budget went from $2 million to $44 million, including the $200,000 to cover the cost of Elizabeth Taylor’s costumes.

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It was the most expensive movie ever made at the time of its release. It nearly bankrupted the studio despite being a huge success at the box office. Cleopatra remains one of the most expensive films in history to this day.

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