What did Queen Cleopatra worship?

Cleopatra was the last of the Greek Ptolemaic rulers who ruled Egypt between 323 BCE and 30 BCE. She was an exceptional queen who possessed a mixed culture of Greek and Egyptian elements, and she used religion as a tool to increase her power and fame. In this article, we will review three types of deities that Cleopatra worshipped: Egyptian deities, Greek deities, and Roman deities. We will also explain how Cleopatra benefited from her religious image to establish political and romantic relationships with prominent Roman leaders: Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. 

Cleopatra's Worship of Egyptian Deities

Cleopatra was the last of the Greek Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, who inherited a mixed culture of Greek and Egyptian elements. She was the only one of her dynasty who learned the Egyptian language and adopted many of the traditional Egyptian religious beliefs. She worshipped the Egyptian deities of Osiris, Isis and Horus, who formed a triad of gods associated with death, resurrection and kingship.


Cleopatra presented herself to her subjects as the reincarnation of Isis, the goddess of magic, healing and fertility. She also claimed to be the daughter of Ra, the sun god, and wore a headdress with a cobra symbolizing her divine status. She used her religious image to legitimize her rule and to appeal to the loyalty of the Egyptians.


Cleopatra's Worship of Greek Deities

Cleopatra was also influenced by the Greek culture and religion that her ancestors brought to Egypt. She worshipped the Greek deities of Dionysus, Aphrodite and Athena, who represented wine, love and wisdom respectively. She identified herself with these gods and goddesses and used their symbols and attributes to enhance her charisma and allure.


Cleopatra also built temples and shrines for the Greek deities in Alexandria, the capital of her kingdom. She patronized the cult of Serapis, a syncretic god that combined aspects of Osiris and Apis (an Egyptian bull god) with Zeus and Hades (the Greek gods of sky and underworld). Serapis was popular among both Greeks and Egyptians as a universal god who could grant salvation and healing.


Cleopatra's Worship of Roman Deities

Cleopatra had two famous romantic and political relationships with Roman generals: Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. She used her religious influence to persuade them to rule as her partners in Egypt and Rome. She convinced them to adopt the roles of Osiris and Dionysus, who were both gods of fertility and resurrection. She also presented them as divine sons of Venus (the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite) and Jupiter (the Roman equivalent of Zeus).


Cleopatra also honored the Roman deities by offering sacrifices and gifts. She visited Rome with Caesar in 46 BCE and participated in his triumphal procession. She also built a temple for Venus Genetrix (the ancestral goddess of Caesar's family) in Alexandria. She celebrated Antony's victories over Parthia by erecting statues of him as Hercules (the Roman hero-god) in various cities.

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