Cleopatra's Children

Cleopatra was the last queen of the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt for almost 300 years. She was also a mother of four children, who were born from her relationships with two of the most famous Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Her children were Ptolemy XV Caesar (Caesarion), Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene and Ptolemy Philadelphus. Cleopatra's children played important roles in her political and personal life, but they also faced many challenges and dangers in a turbulent time. This article will explore the lives and fates of Cleopatra's children in detail.

Cleopatra's Children with Julius Caesar

Cleopatra's first child was Ptolemy XV Caesar, also known as Caesarion, which means "little Caesar". He was born in 47 BCE, after Cleopatra had met and charmed Julius Caesar in Alexandria. Caesar was the most powerful man in Rome and the leader of a civil war against his rival Pompey. Cleopatra hoped that Caesar would support her claim to the throne of Egypt, which was contested by her brother and co-ruler Ptolemy XIII. She also hoped that Caesar would recognize Caesarion as his son and heir.

Caesar did help Cleopatra defeat Ptolemy XIII and restore her as the sole queen of Egypt. He also became her lover and visited her several times in Alexandria. However, he never publicly acknowledged Caesarion as his son, nor did he divorce his wife Calpurnia to marry Cleopatra. He did take Cleopatra and Caesarion to Rome in 46 BCE, where they stayed as his guests until his assassination in 44 BCE.

After Caesar's death, Cleopatra returned to Egypt with Caesarion. She declared him as her co-ruler and gave him the title of "King of Kings". She also tried to persuade the Roman Senate to recognize him as Caesar's legitimate heir, but they refused. Instead, they accepted Caesar's adopted son Octavian (later Augustus) as his successor.

Caesarion's life was in danger from Octavian, who saw him as a potential rival and a threat to his power. Octavian waged war against Mark Antony, who had become Cleopatra's lover and ally. In 31 BCE, Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium and pursued them to Alexandria. Antony committed suicide after a false report of Cleopatra's death. Cleopatra followed him soon after, allegedly by letting an asp bite her.

Octavian captured Caesarion and planned to take him to Rome as a trophy. However, he changed his mind and ordered his execution. According to Plutarch, he said: "Too many Caesars is not good". Caesarion was killed in 30 BCE, at the age of 17. He was the last king of the Ptolemaic dynasty and the only biological son of Julius Caesar.

Cleopatra's Children with Mark Antony

Cleopatra's second lover was Mark Antony, who was one of Caesar's closest friends and allies. He was also one of the triumvirs who ruled Rome after Caesar's death, along with Octavian and Lepidus. He controlled the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire, where he met Cleopatra in 41 BCE.

Cleopatra wanted Antony's support for her interests in Egypt and the Mediterranean region. She also wanted to secure her son Caesarion's position as Caesar's heir. She seduced Antony with her beauty and wealth, and he fell in love with her. He followed her to Egypt, where they spent the winter together. They also formed a political alliance against Octavian.

Cleopatra gave birth to three children by Antony: twins Alexander Helios (Sun) and Cleopatra Selene (Moon) in 40 BCE, and another son Ptolemy Philadelphus in 36 BCE. Antony married Octavian's sister Octavia in 40 BCE to seal their peace treaty, but he returned to Cleopatra in 37 BCE. He gave her parts of Syria, Lebanon and Anatolia as gifts. He also married her according to Egyptian rites and declared Caesarion as Caesar's true son. He recognized his children by Cleopatra as kings and queens of various regions.

Cleopatra's children with Antony were part of her grand vision of creating a new empire that would unite Egypt and Rome. She also wanted to revive the glory of the ancient Hellenistic kingdoms that had been founded by Alexander the Great's successors. She named her children after Greek and Egyptian gods and goddesses, and gave them symbolic titles and attributes.

However, Cleopatra's children with Antony also provoked Octavian's anger and jealousy. He accused Antony of betraying Rome and becoming a puppet of Cleopatra. He also claimed that Antony intended to make Caesarion the king of Rome and his children the rulers of the provinces. He declared war on Antony and Cleopatra in 32 BCE.

Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE and pursued them to Alexandria. Antony committed suicide after a false report of Cleopatra's death. Cleopatra followed him soon after, allegedly by letting an asp bite her.

Octavian captured Cleopatra's children with Antony and spared their lives. He took them to Rome, where they were paraded in his triumphal procession in 29 BCE. They were then entrusted to the care of Octavia, who raised them along with her own children by Antony.

Cleopatra's children with Antony had different fates. Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus disappeared from history after 29 BCE, and their ultimate fate is unknown. They may have died from illness or been killed by Octavian.

Cleopatra Selene survived and grew up to be a beautiful and cultured woman. She married King Juba II of Mauretania (modern Morocco and Algeria) in 20 BCE, as arranged by Octavian. She became a powerful and respected queen, who patronized arts and sciences. She also honored her parents' memory by naming her only son Ptolemy. She died in 6 CE, at the age of 44. She was the last surviving child of Cleopatra and the longest-lived descendant of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

cleopatra descendants 

Cleopatra had four children: Ptolemy XV (with Julius Caesar), and the twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, and Ptolemy Philadelphus (the last three with Mark Antony). But she only had descendants through one of her children: her only daughter, Selene, who married King Juba II of Mauretania in Africa. They had two children: Ptolemy and Drusilla. Ptolemy was killed by Caligula, but Drusilla married King Sohaemus of Emesa and had a son named Alexio. Alexio's descendants became the high priests of Emesa and some of them married into the Roman imperial family. The last known descendant of Cleopatra was Emperor Alexander Severus, who died in 235 AD.