Historical Timeline

Historical Timeline

What do we really know?

EGYPT and ROME 69 BC - 30 BC


69 BC

CLEOPATRA (VII) is born in Egypt – daughter of Ptolemy XII and unknown mother.

51 BC

Ptolemy XII dies, leaving Egypt to his son, Ptolemy XIII (10 yrs) and CLEOPATRA (18 yrs)

In Ptolemaic tradition, CLEOPATRA marries her brother Ptolemy XIII. They become joint rulers of Egypt.

49 BC

To secure power for Ptolemy XIII, his Guardians force CLEOPATRA to leave Alexandria and go to Syria.  Ptolemy XII’s sole rule of Egypt is recognized by Roman consuls Julius Caesar and Pompey.

CLEOPATRA raises an army to prepare to confront Ptolemy XIII.

48 BC

Civil War breaks out in Egypt and in Rome. CLEOPATRA’S army is defeated near Pelusium.

Julius Caesar defeats his rival Pompey at Pharsalus (Greece) and makes himself master of the Roman World.  Pompey flees to Egypt and is beheaded by a faction of Ptolemy XIII court. Caesar and his army follow Pompey to Egypt and him Pompey dead orders Ptolemy XIII and CLEOPATRA to disband their armies.

CLEOPATRA devises a way to meet with Caesar.  She hides herself inside a carpet to avoid detection from Ptolemy’s spies and is carried into Caesar presence.  Caesar (52 yrs) and CLEOPATRA (21 yrs) become lovers.

Cleopatra’s younger sister, Arsinoe, declares herself Queen and leads a force against Caesar & CLEOPATRA.

47 BC

Caesar and CLEOPATRA's combined forces defeat Ptolemy XIII. Arsinoe is taken prisoner. Ptolemy XIII drowns while attempting to escape across the Nile.

CLEOPATRA marries her 12 yr. old brother, Ptolemy XIV.  They are the new joint rulers.

Julius Caesar leaves Alexandria to campaign with his army through Asia Minor back to Italy. It ends quickly and he returns to Rome

CLEOPATRA gives birth to a son and names him Ptolemy XV Caesar – a.k.a. Caesarion

46 BC

CLEOPATRA travels to Rome with son Caesarion and brother/husband Ptolemy XIV.  Caesar houses them in his country villa.  Caesar lives with his wife Calpurnia in town. Caesar shows off Caesarion as his son but nothing is made legal.  He dedicates a Temple to Venus the mother placing a gold statue of CLEOPATRA as Venus inside.

Caesar celebrates his victory in Egypt with a Triumphal March. Arsinoe is paraded in chains.

44 BC

Caesar is declared dictator.  Roman Senators fearing a monarchy form a conspiracy to assassinate Caesar.  On the Ides of March, Julius Caesar is stabbed to death on the Senate floor.

CLEOPATRA stays until Caesar’s will is read. Caesar’s nephew Octavian is named his successor and heir.

CLEOPATRA quickly vanishes from Rome and returns to Alexandria with their son and her brother/husband.  CLEOPATRA appoints Caesarion (3 yrs) her co-ruler Ptolemy XV and heir. Cleopatra’s brother and former co-ruler dies – possibly at her command.

43 BC

Octavian, Mark Antony, and Lepidus meet in Bologna and form the Second Triumvirate.

CLEOPATRA gains control of Cyprus; she supports the Second Triumvirate in its war against Caesar’s assassins led by Brutus and Cassius but essentially only from the sidelines.

42 BC

Octavian and Marc Antony defeat the assassins’ armies. Brutus and Cassius commit suicide.  Octavian returns to Rome and Antony remains in the wealthy east to control this part of the empire.

41 BC

CLEOPATRA receives an “invitation” to meet with Marc Antony in Tarsus to quell rumors she has been disloyal to the empire.  CLEOPATRA arrives in a golden barge dressed as the goddess of love.  CLEOPATRA and Antony meet and a relationship begins. They each drive a hard political bargain.  In exchange for financially backing his war against the Parthian Empire, he returns the rule of old Ptolemaic territories to her.  Also, CLEOPATRA wants no more threats to her rule.  CLEOPATRA returns to Egypt. Marc Antony arranges to have Arsinoe executed.

CLEOPATRA welcomes Antony to Alexandria and he stays through the winter.

Back in Rome, Antony’s wife Fluvia has raised an army to rebel against Octavian.  The rebellion is defeated and Fluvia flees to Greece.  Antony leaves a pregnant CLEOPATRA to join his wife.  Fluvia dies.

40 BC

Antony returns to Rome to enter new ruling treaty with Octavian. Antony marries Octavian’s sister, Octavia, as part of the pact.  Octavian begins a plan to undermine Antony’s power.

CLEOPATRA gives birth to twins and calls them Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene.

37 BC

After Octavian's many broken promises, Antony decides to leave Rome to campaign against the Parthian Empire.

CLEOPATRA travels with their twins to join Antony in Antioch. CLEOPATRA and Antony marry.  Their marriage is illegal in Rome but legal in Egypt.  To further ruffle Octavian’s feathers, Antony give Crete and the Roman parts of Syria, Lebanon and Jericho to Cleopatra.

Octavian ups his propaganda war in Rome and focuses it against CLEOPATRA.  War between Antony and Octavian appears inevitable.

CLEOPATRA gives birth to another son - Ptolemy Philadelphus.

35 BC

Antony’s defeat of the Parthinians produces minor results but Antony decides to stage a triumph in Alexandria not in Rome

34 BC

In a grand ceremony called the Donations of Alexandria, Antony names Caesarion and Alexander - King of Kings and CLEOPATRA - Queen of Kings.  He distributes more Roman territories to CLEOPATRA, Caesarion and their three children.  (“None of the Ptolemies had ever wielded the sceptre over such extensive domains as Antony had now placed under her (Cleopatra) and her children." Plutarch.)

Octavian stokes more outrage in Rome.  His goal is war with CLEOPATRA - not a civil war with the popular Antony.

31 BC

Octavian declares war on CLEOPATRA and defeats the forces of Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium (Greece).  CLEOPATRA and Antony escape back to Alexandria.

Octavian tells CLEOPATRA she can ask for most anything if she has Antony killed or expels him from Egypt.  Octavian tells Antony that to save his own skill, Cleopatra must die.

30 BC

Neither CLEOPATRA nor Antony can kill the other, so Octavian takes the fight to Egypt. Octavian’s army lands and quickly defeats Antony’s forces. CLEOPATRA sends a note to Antony...she is thinking of killing herself.   Assuming she is dead, Antony falls on his own sword.


CLEOPATRA is being held under house arrest in her palace.


Maps of the Times