Cleopatra VII (69–30 BC) was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. Although there were six other queens called Cleopatra before her, she is undoubtedly the most famous and often referred to simply by her first name. Ruling at first with her father and her two brothers (to whom she was married, according to the customs of Ancient Egypt), she then became queen in her own right. Her fabled extraordinary beauty made her a conquest of Julius Caesar, Roman Emperor, with whom she had a son, Caesarion. After Caesar’s assassination in 44BC she supported and had a relationship with Mark Antony, producing three children. Antony opposed Octavian, Caesar’s legal heir (later Emperor Augustus) which led to a civil war and Antony’s eventual defeat. He committed suicide and Cleopatra followed; according to legend she allowed an asp to bite her, to avoid the indignation of being taken by Octavian’s triumphant troops.
Cleopatra has become a main figure of popular myth in the Western world, on account of her beauty, power and tragic death. The subject of many works of art, the most famous portrayals of her life are in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Massenet’s opera Cléopâtre and the 1963 film Cleopatra.