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How did Cleopatra get Caesar?

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Cleopatra and Caesar, Jean-Leon-Gerome
Cleopatra and Caesar, Jean-Leon-Gerome

After beating the Pompey in 48 BCE under Farsalos and his death Caesar became the sole master of the Roman world. Cleopatra VII, banished by her brother Ptolemy XIII, sought all means to regain power and rebuild the power of Egypt under her rule.

The queen saw the only chance in Caesar to regain the power. For this purpose, she made a brilliant idea of seducing Caesar. To this end, she had to use her most important arguments: the beauty, the art of seduction and the wealth she had at her disposal. She sneaked into the palace (there is popular belief that she was supposedly wrapped in a carpet what is rather unlikely) and she got before Caesar. This is how the Plutarch of Caesarea described this:

So Cleopatra, taking only Apollodorus the Sicilian from among her friends, embarked in a little skiff and landed at the palace when it was already getting dark; and as it was impossible to escape notice otherwise, she stretched herself at full length inside a bed-sack, while Apollodorus tied the bed-sack up with a cord and carried it indoors to Caesar.

Plutarch, Caesar 49

As it turned out, Caesar was so delighted with the young, beautiful and exotic queen that he began to share a bed with her. Caesar in the conflict between the royal couple supported Cleopatra, who during his stay in Alexandria became his lover. Caesar demanded that Ptolemy XIII dissolve the army and reconcile with his wife-sister. Caesar eventually led Cleopatra to the throne to give birth to his son – Caesarion, which he intended to rule the Empire. Caesar considered young Ptolemy as his son, giving him the right to apply for his father’s inheritance in the future. Fearing this in the future, Augustus, after defeating Antonius and Cleopatra, pronounced a sentence on the son of Caesar. Firstly, however, Octavian asked the philosopher Arejos from Alexandria if he had the right to kill Caesarion. The philosopher, paraphrasing Homer, said: “Too many Caesars is not a good thing”. Augustus then ordered to strangle Caesarion at the end of August 30 BCE.

  • Koper Sławomir, Miłość i polityka. Kobiety świata antycznego, Warszawa 1997
  • Matyszak Philip, Wrogowie Rzymu, Warszawa 2007

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