Cleopatra VII. and Marcus Antonius

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Cleopatra came to Caesar to Rome in 46 BC together with Caesarion and her thirteen-year old half brother, who stayed alive and with whom she officially shared the reign. The formal purpose of her visit was to confirm the agreement of her father about the alliance and friendship between Egypt and Rome. Cleopatra stayed in Rome until the end of Caesar's life then. The Venus’ sanctuary was being built at the time of her arrival (gens Iulia derived its origin from Venus) and next to it stood Cleopatra’s gold-plated bronze statue.

The influence of Cleopatra (and her country at all) could be traced in some of Caesar’s acts from that time. For example, Caesar’s plan of a great public library founding was based on the famous Ptolemaic Library at Musaeum, Scientific Institute in Alexandria. Also his spectacular, but unrealized plans to cut a canal between Pontine marshes southward of Rome and Isthmus of Corinth surely had its model in Egypt, which was greatly experienced in building these structures. Even the Caesar’s modification of the calendar was controlled by an Alexandrian astronomer.

Caesar was appointed a dictator and censor for life in February 44 BC. He was about to assume the royal title on 15th March 44 BC, but his life was ended by the Marcus Junius Brutus’ dagger. Caesarion wasn’t mentioned in Caesar’s testament and Cleopatra was confused and upset. She definitely left Rome in April and returned to Alexandria.

Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius

Cleopatra’s main concern then was to preserve the sovereignty of Egypt. But against her own will she found herself in the middle of a conflict of Caesar’s heirs – general Marcus Antonius and Caesar’s adoptive son Octavian. Cleopatra had no reason to worry - Antonius was a master of Rome and as a Caesar’s fellow fighter he was a loyal friend of Cleopatra. So Cleopatra believed she was safe, which proved to be a big mistake. She had no idea that Egypt would be the bone of contention between Antonius and Octavian.

CaesarionMarcus Antonius needed Egyptian grain to deal with Octavian. For political reasons, he decided to stand up for Caesarion and sailed to Alexandria. The brave soldier succumbed to the beauty and intelligence of the young Queen as well as Caesar before him. Cleopatra was able to suppress intrigues plotted by the followers of Octavian, the later Emperor Augustus.

Cleopatra broke the traditions of he predecessors, who administered Egypt from a distance from Alexandria and only used the rest of the country as a bottomless fount. An „Egyptian Queen“ came to the throne after „Alexandrian Kings“. Cleopatra learnt to speak Egyptian language and she tried to find support in particular regions. She dusted off the traditions and rituals in the religious sphere, which were almost forgotten under her predecessors rule.

This return to tradition became evident especially after Caesarion’s birth. Cleopatra insisted on recognizing her son born in Rome as an Egyptian. He ruled together with his mother as Ptolemy XV Caesarion. But the political situation slowly tended to the end of happy days of Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius – it headed towards the Battle of Actium.

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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