b. 69 B.C.E., Alexandria, Egypt; d. 30 B.C.E., Alexandria, Egypt
Cleopatra became queen of Egypt at the age of seventeen, although she co-ruled at different times with many different men, including her son and two husbands who were also her brothers. Egyptian law required that a female ruler have a consort and that she be subordinate to him, but Cleopatra often broke with tradition, appearing alone on coinage and as the sole signatory on many official documents. She was the lover of Julius Caesar, the Roman military and political leader, and had a child with him, securing her place on the throne of Egypt. After Caesar’s assassination, she became the lover of Marc Antony, another Roman politician. In 30 B.C.E., Roman forces led by Antony’s rival, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian, attacked Egypt. Cleopatra committed suicide, probably by means of an asp, thought to ensure eternal life.