Antony and Cleopatra - The End Of An Empire

Antony and Cleopatra - The End Of An Empire

The final death throe of the Egyptian Empire is recognized to have occurred when Egypt became a mere province of the Roman Empire following the tragic romance and deaths of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. Antony was a Roman general and politician who shared rule of the Roman Empire with Octavian.

Octavian ruled the western portion of the Roman Empire while the eastern portion was ruled by Antony. The Roman Senate ended its toleration of the extramarital affair between Roman Antony and the foreign queen Cleopatra when Antony bequeathed to and divided up among his children (including those borne by Cleopatra) his eastern portion of the Roman Empire. The couple seeking to create an Afro-European empire ruled by themselves, Antony was charged with treason. Octavian became the first Roman Emperor, namely Emperor Augustus Caesar, when his forces under Agrippa defeated those of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 27 BCE.

Just who was Cleopatra? We know that she was beautiful. We know that she was a daughter of the Dynasty of Ptolemy. The founder of the Ptolemaic Dynasty was Ptolemy I Soter, a general from Macedonia, an ancient empire located on the northeast corner of the Greek peninsula.

Cleopatra's maternal ancestry is not definitively known by genetic analysis. We do know however that the skeletal remains of Cleopatra's blood sister Arsinoe was a mixture of African, Egyptian (where Ancient Egyptians were genetically similar to people from the Middle East primarily and Northern Europe secondarily) and Classical Greek features. It is likely therefore, that Cleopatra's autosomal ancestry was also a admixture of African, Egyptian and Greek genetics.

Given the founding paternal line of Ptolemy was European Macedonian-Greek, and that Cleopatra was an autosomal admixture as was her sister Arsinoe, likely Cleopatra's Late Ptolemaic Egyptian Period maternal ancestral line may have been Native African, although an Ancient Egyptian maternal line cannot be ruled out. While Ancient Egyptians were genetically similar to people from the Middle East and Northern Europe, we do know that over time Egyptian genetics became more admixed with Native African genetics, lending a greater probability that Cleopatra's ancestral genetic maternal line may have been Native African over Ancient Egyptian.


Cleopatra was no angel. She was after power. First through Julius Caesar and then through Antony. She had Antony's men slaughter her surviving young sister Arsinoe and young brother Ptolemy XIV to steal the throne from her brother, assure her sister could not be rival for the throne, and to secure the throne for herself. She tricked Marc Antony (the supposed love of her life) into killing himself and then tried to seduce Octavian (she failed). She experimented on prisoners with poison to determine the less painful way to kill herself (after she failed to seduce Octavian), not wanting to be paraded through the streets of Rome as a vanquished queen. No Romeo and Juliet lovestory here folks. Antony's brain lived below his belt. Cleopatra used Antony, aspiring to conquer and rule Rome with his help (as long a he could be of use to her, that is). She wouldn't need Antony once her son with Julius Caesar came of age. At that time, she could claim power over Rome through her son Caesarion. Rome would not tolerate Caesarion, the son of Cleopatra, as ruler of Rome. Her ambition for power over Rome sealed her fate.