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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Historical Spotlight: The Children of Cleopatra

Cleopatra’s Daughter (by Michelle Moran) digs into the lives of the twin children of Cleopatra: Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. Her two other children are mentioned as well: Caesarion and Ptolemy. Let’s look at what is known of their lives.

Caesarion – “Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar”
Caesarion “Little Caesar” was the eldest son of Cleopatra and her liaison with Julius Caesar. He was born in 47 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. Cleopatra wanted Caesarion to become Caesar’s heir and the next leader of Rome; after Caesar’s death they returned to Egypt. In 44 BC Caesarion was name co-ruler of Egypt with Cleopatra. When Mark Antony became Cleopatra’s husband – he gave Caesarion the title of “King of Kings”. When Octavian invaded Alexandria, Caesarion was seen as the biggest threat to his quest to become the sole leader of Rome because he was Caesar’s son. Caesarion was executed at the age of 17 in 30 BC upon the order of Octavian – he had been planning on fleeing, possibly to India. He was the last Ptolemiac King of Egypt.

Alexander Helios
Alexander was born in 40 BC in Alexandria, the older sibling in the set of twins. They were the children of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. He was named after Cleopatra’s grandfather, Alexander the Great, and the ancient Greek word for sun. Mark Antony gave him the titles of King of Armenia, Media, Parthia and any countries yet to be discovered between the Euphrates and Indus Rivers. In 33 BC he was engaged to Iotapa of Media. After Cleopatra and Mark Antony committed suicide, Alexander was taken with his sister and younger brother to Rome for Octavian’s triumph. He lived with Octavian’s sister. It is believed that he was ultimately killed or died from illness, but there is no record of when.

Cleopatra Selene II – “Cleopatra VIII of Egypt”
Selene was born in 40 BC with her twin Alexander; she was named after her mother and the ancient Greek word for moon – her brother’s counterpart. She was given the titles of Queen of Cyrenaica and Libya. Along with her brothers she was brought to Rome and lived with Octavia – she outlived her brothers. She was married to King Juba II of Numidia around 20 BC. They ruled over Mauretania for Rome and had an influence on politics. They had 2 children, Ptolemy of Mauretania and Drusillia of Mauretania. She died sometime around year 6.

Ptolemy – “Ptolemy Philadelphus”
Ptolemy was the youngest child of Cleopatra and Mark Antony; he was born in 36 BC in Syria. He was named after Ptolemy II Philadelphus. When his siblings were given titles he received King of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia. He made the trip with Alexander and Selene to Rome and also like his brother it is not known how or when he died.

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