19 December 2017 in Blog - Culture
The name Cleopatra is derived from the Greek name Κλεοπάτρα (Kleopatra) which meant “she who comes from glorious father” or “glory of the father” in the feminine form, derived from κλέος (kleos) “glory” combined with πατήρ (pater) “father” (the masculine form would be written either as Kleopatros (Κλεόπατρος), or Patroklos (Πάτροκλος))
The identity of Cleopatra’s mother is unknown, but she is generally believed to be Cleopatra V Tryphaena of Egypt, the sister or cousin and wife of Ptolemy XII Auletes, or possibly another Ptolemaic family member who was the daughter of Ptolemy X and Cleopatra Berenice III Philopator if Cleopatra V was not the daughter of Ptolemy X and Berenice III. Cleopatra’s father Auletes was a direct descendant of Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy I Soter, son of Arsinoe and Lagus, both of Macedonia.
Centralization of power and political corruption led to uprisings in and the losses of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, making Ptolemy XII Auletes’ reign one of the most calamitous of the dynasty. Ptolemy went to Rome with Cleopatra; Cleopatra VI Tryphaena seized the crown but died shortly afterwards in suspicious circumstances. It is believed (though not proven by historical sources) that Berenice IV poisoned her so that she could assume sole rulership. Regardless of the cause, she ruled until Ptolemy Auletes returned in 55 BC with Roman support, capturing Alexandria aided by Roman general Aulus Gabinius. Berenice was imprisoned and executed shortly afterwards, her head allegedly being sent to the royal court on the decree of her father, the king. Cleopatra now became joint regent and deputy to her father at age 14, although her power would have been severely limited.
Ptolemy XII Auletes died in March 51 BC. His will made 18-year-old Cleopatra and her 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, joint monarchs. The first three years of their reign were difficult due to economic failures, famine, deficient floods of the Nile, and political conflicts. Cleopatra was married to her young brother, but she quickly made it clear that she had no intention of sharing power with him.
In August 51 BC, relations completely broke down between Cleopatra and Ptolemy. Cleopatra dropped Ptolemy’s name from official documents and her face alone appeared on coins, which went against Ptolemaic tradition of female rulers being subordinate to male co-rulers. In 50 BC, Cleopatra came into serious conflict with the Gabiniani, powerful Roman troops of Aulus Gabinius who had left them in Egypt to protect Ptolemy XII Auletes after his restoration to the throne in 55 BC. The Gabiniani killed the sons of the Roman governor of Syria Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus when they came to ask the Gabiniani to assist their father against the Parthians. Cleopatra handed the murderers over to Bibulus in chains, whereupon the Gabiniani became bitter enemies of the queen. This conflict was one of the main causes of Cleopatra’s fall from power shortly afterward. The sole reign of Cleopatra was finally ended by a cabal of courtiers led by the eunuch Pothinus, in connection with
half-Greek general Achillas, and Theodotus of Chios. Circa 48 BC, Cleopatra’s younger brother Ptolemy XIII became sole ruler.
Cleopatra tried to raise a rebellion around Pelusium, but was soon forced to flee with her only