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Cleopatra’s children

Cleopatra VII had four children, one with Julius Caesar and three with Mark Antony.

The eldest son of Cleopatra, Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar was born 47 BC. He was called Caesarion, meaning “little Caesar”. Late 40 BC, Antony and Cleopatra’s twins, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene were born.

Cleopatra’s third son, Ptolemy Philadelphus was born 36 BC.

In 31 BC, Cleopatra and Antony were defeated by Octavian during the naval battle at Actium. The future Roman Emperor, Octavian, hoped to defeat Antony and take Cleopatra as his trophy to Rome, but 30 BC both Cleopatra and Antony committed suicide. This act left their children with no one to protect them.

Caesarion was the last king of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt. He reigned together with his mother from September 44 BC. Cleopatra hoped he would be an heir and potential successor to his father in Rome and Egypt. However, he was murdered by Octavian’s order just 11days later after Cleopatra’s death.

Octavian took all three children of Cleopatra and Antony to Rome, celebrating his victory. One of the greatest trophies he presented to the Romans was the children of the Egyptian Queen in heavy golden chains paraded down the streets. The chains were so heavy that they could not walk, eliciting sympathy from many of the Roman onlookers.

Octavian gave the children to his elder sister and the former wife of Antony. In the History of Rome, Cassius Dio mentions only twins arriving in Rome. This means Ptolemy Philadelphus might not have survived during the journey to Rome. Alexander Helios perhaps left Rome with his twin sister, Cleopatra Selene.

Surprisingly, Cleopatra’s only daughter, Selene, married King Juba II and later, they became the most important rulers of Mauretania (today’s Morocco and Algeria) in history. (Floro Mercene)

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