Cleopatra

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The female forename Cleopatra is most famously associated with a Queen of Egypt from 47 to 30 BCE. This was Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE), whose regnal number indicates that it was a common name in the Ptolemaic dynasty of Greek Pharaohs of Egypt. She was the daughter and successor of Ptolemy XII Auletes ('Fluteplayer') (80-69 BCE). This Cleopatra followed other pharaonic traditions, as well as fascinating many writers and composers through the ages: she married, and ruled with, her brothers: first Ptolemy XIII (63-47; co-reigned 51-47) - he was drowned in the Nile following a defeat by his sister, queen and consort and her ally Julius Caesar against whom he had rebelled; and then Ptolemy XIV (c.59-44 BCE; reigned 47-44) - he was murdered by Cleopatra's order. Her son Ptolemy XV Caesar, nicknamed 'Caesarion' (47-30 BCE; co-reigned 44-30; solo reign, 18 days in 30) was claimed to be the child of Julius Caesar - he was executed on the orders of Augustus, for fear of continued trouble with the Ptolemies.

Cleopatra VII was famous for her beauty and sex appeal, and notorious for her lovers. She has inspired many works of literature, and many sayings. Among others, she is at the centre of

  • Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, based on Plutarch's Life of Antony, whose translation by George North in The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes (1579) gave Shakespeare his story, as well as some of his verse;
  • G.B. Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra;
  • Dryden's All For Love; or The World Well Lost(1678), "written in imitation of Shakespeare's style";
  • Samuel Daniel's Senecan tragedy Cleopatra (1594);
  • the French comic book Asterix and Cleopatra (Goscinny and Uderzo, 1965; English translation by Bell and Hockridge, 1969);
  • several films, including that in 1963 starring Elizabeth Taylor and her future husband, Richard Burton and earlier films with Theda Bara (1917) and Claudette Colbert (1934)
  • numerous paintings, such as 'Cleopatra' (1875) and 'The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra' (1883) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema; 'Cesare y Cleopatra' (1972), 'La muerte de Cleopatra' (1975), and 'Les Amoureux Antoine et Cléopâtre' (1979) by Salvador Dali; 'Cleopatra' (1485-1490) by Piero di Cosimo; 'La morte di Cleopatra' by Domenichino; and two versions of 'Cleopatra' in 1621-1622 and 1630 by Artemesia Gentileschi and one by her father, Orazio Gentileschi;
  • several musical compositions, including operas by Samuel Barber (1966), Cléopâtre by Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet (1914); serenatas by Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio e Cleopatra (1701) and Johann Adolph Hasse (1725); and a cantata, La Mort de Cléopâtre (1829) by Hector Berlioz.