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Cleopatra and the Shift of Egyptian Power

The infamous Cleopatra’s father Ptolemy XII knew that the Roman forces were becoming stronger by the day. He did not want to lose his throne to another civilization, so he came up with a plan to lengthen his rule. In this article, you will learn what Ptolemy decided to do and the role that Cleopatra played in keeping the throne in Egyptian hands.

Cleopatra’s father traveled to Rome. When he reached the city, he made a request of Caesar and Pompey. He asked that they would to recognize him as the legal ruler of Egypt, and to announce that he was a “comrade and ally of Rome.” Although both of the leaders agreed to this proposal, it was not without any consequences to the Egyptians. Ptolemy was charged 6,000 talents. The large sum was too great for the leader so he had to borrow the funds from a wealthy Roman.

After borrowing the money, the plan did not go as accordingly, and he learned that many plots were already in place to take down the leader. He required additional help, so he returned to Rome. During this trip, his oldest daughter, Cleopatra Tryphaina (who was the older sister of the Cleopatra we all know), seized the throne for herself.

Ptolemy was full of rage regarding this act, but he was a desperate man in need of assistance. A popular Roman named Aulus Gabinius agreed to restore Ptolemy’s kingship, but this too, was not an easy task for the pharaoh. He was charged 10,000 talents. As he returned home to recover his throne, his daughter Berenice had killed Cleopatra Tryphaina, and took over the throne. Followers of Ptolemy quickly overthrew Berenice, and executed her for her disloyalty.

After losing two daughters, Ptolemy regained his position. However, his rule did not last too long after. He died in 51 BC , two years later. In his will, he wanted his 18-year-old daughter Cleopatra to marry her brother Ptolemy XIII (who was only 10 years old at the time), and they would rule over Egypt together.

Cleopatra was an intelligent young woman that possessed charming qualities. Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t many accounts that speak of Cleopatra’s infamous beauty. In fact, her appeal came from her intelligence and art of conversation.

Being in power with her 10-year-old brother was not a favorable position for Cleopatra. Although he was easily influenced because of his age, she had to find ways to overrule three untrustworthy advisors that watched over his moves. Pothinus, Achillas, and Theodotus served her brother, but all three wished to assume power of Egypt. When her brother had to make a decision, it was the advisors that influenced his choices.

Pothinus was in charge of managing the guards and made sure the pharaoh had enough servants, including cooks, maids, and people to work the royal grounds. Achillas commanded the Egyptian army. Since the advisors wanted to come into power, they all despised Cleopatra, who saw her as being in the way of their ambitions.