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Chronology of Cleopatra's Life

  • 69 B.C. -- Cleopatra (technically she is Cleopatra VII Philopator) is born to the extravagant (and extravagantly-named) Ptolemy XII Auletes Theos Philopator Philadelphos Neo Dionysos and Cleopatra Tryphaena (maybe?)
  • 63 B.C. -- birth of Cleopatra's brother and future husband Ptolemy XIII
  • 59 B.C. -- birth of Cleopatra's brother Ptolemy XIV
  • 58 B.C. -- the Alexandrians expel Ptolemy XII; he flees to Rome and leaves his wife/sister Cleopatra Tryphaena and eldest daughter Berenike IV in charge as co-regents
  • 57 B.C. -- Cleopatra Tryphaena dies; leaving Berenike IV as sole regent; Ptolemy XII Auletes was restored to the throne with the military help of Aulus Gabinius (who had on staff a young Marcus Antonius as his cavalry commander)and Berenike IV was subsequently executed
  • 51 B.C. -- death of Ptolemy XII Auletes; Cleopatra is named joint heir with her brother Ptolemy XIII and almost immediately is issuing decrees in her name alone
  • 48 B.C.
    • In a palace coup of sorts, a certain Theodotus, Pothinus, and Achillas expelled Cleopatra in favour of her younger brother/husband; of course they appointed themselves as regents
    • August 10 -- Julius Caesar's forces defeat the pro-republican forces of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey) at Pharsalus; he flees, eventually heading for Egypt
    • September 28 -- Pompey arrives at Alexandria and is killed on the orders of Pothinus via Ptolemy XIII
    • October 2 -- Julius Caesar arrives at Alexandria; shortly thereafter he restores Cleopatra (?)
    • November -- the Alexandrian War begins
  • 47 B.C.
    • -- by the end of March, the Alexandrian War had come to an end, Ptolemy XIII had fled and drowned in the Nile, and Cleopatra was sole ruler of Egypt
    • June 23 -- birth of Ptolemy Caesar, a.k.a. Caesarion, claimed to be the son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra
  • 46-44 B.C. -- Cleopatra living in Rome; he placed a statue of her in the Temple of Venus Genetrix
  • March 15, 44 B.C. -- Julius Caesar is assassinated and Cleopatra flee to Alexandria
  • November 27, 43 B.C. -- the lex Titia creates the triumvirate of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian), Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus; proscription of triumviral enemies follows
  • October 23, 42 B.C. -- the forces of Marcus Antonius defeat the pro-republican forces of Cassius and Brutus at Philippi; by agreement with Octavian, Antonius subsequently undertakes the task of organizing the eastern half of the empire (and heads for the east, obviously)
  • 41 B.C. -- Marcus Antonius summons Cleopatra to meet him in Tarsus; subsequently he would spend the winter with her in Alexandria
  • 40 B.C. -- the Perusine War/siege forces Marcus Antonius to return to Italy; Cleopatra gives birth to twins, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene; Marcus Antonius was the father; Treaty of Brundisium is made between Octavian and Antonius, as a result of which (among other things) Marcus Antonius marries Octavian's sister Octavia and returns to organizing the east (he took Octavia with her)
  • 37 B.C.
    • the triumvirate is renewed after a meeting at Tarentum and Marcus Antonius returns to the east (without Octavia);
    • Antonius and Cleopatra's relationship is renewed and Marcus Antonius gives Cleopatra control of Cyprus, Cilicia, Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, Judaea and Arabia; he also formally acknowledges his paternity of Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene
  • 36 B.C.
    • January 31 -- Octavia gives birth to Antonia
    • May -- Marcus Antonius sets off to conduct his ill-starred Parthian campaign
    • September 22 -- the triumvir Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was effectively stripped of power and the Roman world was essentially divided between Octavian and Antonius (and the friction between them grows!)
    • ? -- Cleopatra gives birth to their third child Ptolemy Philadelphus
  • 35 B.C.
    • Early in the year -- Cleopatra joins Marcus Antonius in Syria
    • shortly thereafter -- Octavia brings troops (one tenth of what had been promised by Octavian) to help Antonius, but he refuses to receive her and sends her back to Rome
    • Spring -- Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius return to Alexandria
  • 34 B.C. -- after a successful campaign in Armenia, Antonius returns in triumph to Alexandria and presents the so-called "Donations of Alexandria" (Caesarion was made joint-ruler with his mother and given the title "King of Kings"; Cleopatra was given the title "Queen of Kings"; Alexander Helios was proclaimed king of most of what had once been the Seleukid kingdom; Cleopatra Selene was named Queen of Cyrenaica and Crete; Ptolemy Philadelphus was named king of Syria and Asia Minor
  • 32 B.C.
    • Marcus Antonius officially divorces Octavia
    • Octavian publishes Marcus Antonius' will in which he declares his desire to be buried next to Cleopatra (all part of a mutual propaganda campaign)
    • October -- war is declared on Cleopatra
  • September 2, 31 B.C. -- Octavian's naval forces defeat those of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra at Actium; they flee to Alexandria
  • 30 B.C.
    • before August 10 -- having lost all support and with Octavian on the way, Marcus Antonius commits suicide and dies in Cleopatra's arms
    • August 10 -- rather than submit to Octavian and be displayed in his triumph, Cleopatra commits suicide

There are some very good resources about Cleopatra on the web (and, unfortunately, very many bad ones). Among the best online biographical treatments of Cleopatra's life are: Some scholarly papers (not that the above aren't scholarly; these are things that appeared in journals) For additional background to all the political events surrounding Cleopatra's life, see:

images of cleopatra
Coming soon ...

elsewhere at the atrium
Other items of interest
In addition to the bibliographies mentioned in passing above:
This is a page in progress (obviously). If you have anything to add by way of links on the web and/or more traditional bibliography, feel free to drop me a line. I can't guarantee that I'll use it, but I'll certainly check it out!
Copyright © 2001 David Meadows
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