Queens of the Ancient World

How can we mention ancient queens without paying homage to Cleopatra, who made history with the details of her love life just as much as her rule. In this article, you will encounter information regarding influential queens of the ancient world.

Cleopatra , Egyptian

Cleopatra captured the attention of great leaders, Caesar and Mark Antony, and eventually became quite influential in their decision-making. She had three children with Mark Antony, who she committed suicide by snakebite after her lover had taken his own life. The queen was known for her intelligence and political smarts, and was often depicted as a beautiful woman. However, historians believe she was not the beauty that legends describe her as. In fact, some ancient coins have shown Cleopatra with a hooked, large nose.

Tomyris , the Massagetae

When Tomyris’ husband died, she became the queen of the Massagetae , a people that dwelled east of the Caspian Sea in Central Asia. Classical writers, such as Herodotus, described the culture as being comparable to the Scythians. The location where Tomyris ruled as queen is the same place where archeologists uncovered the remains of an ancient Amazon society.
One tale of Tomyris involves Cyrus of Persia, who wanted her kingdom. He offered to marry her so that he could have it. However, she declined his offer and then accused him of trickery. Because of this, the two were constantly at odds with one another.

Cyrus tried to get at the queen by tricking the section of her army that was led by her son. When her son was taken prisoner, he eventually committed suicide. Tomyris’ army rebounded and defeated the Persians. During the fighting, King Cyrus was killed. It is believed that Tomyris kept Cyrus’ head and turned it into a drinking vessel.

Boudicca , Celtic

Boudicca  (also known as Boadicea and Boudica) was married to King Prasutagus of the Celtic Iceni, which was located in the east of ancient Britain. Boudicca lived during a time when the Romans conquered Britain. At the time, they allowed the king to continue his rule, but when he passed away and Boudicca took over, the Romans wanted to control the land.

The Romans are said to have stripped down and beaten the queen. Her daughters were raped. Because of these acts, Boudicca led her troops and the Trinovantes of Camulodunum (Colchester) against the Romans in 60 AD. Thousands in Camulodunum, London, and Verulamium (St. Albans) were killed. However, these victories would not last long. The Roman governor in Britain Gaius Suetonius Paullinus (or Paulinus) was successful in defeating the Celts. The end that Boudicca met is unknown, but many suspect she had committed suicide.

Iulia Aurelia Zenobia

In what is known as Syria today was called Palmyra during the 3rd century. Iulia Aurelia Zenobia ruled here at during this time. She claimed to be related to Cleopatra herself and defied the Romans , riding into battle against them. Zenobia eventually lost to the Romans and taken as their prisoner.

Zenobia assumed the role of queen when her husband Septimius Odaenathus and his son were assassinated in 267. At the time, her son Vaballanthus was heir to the throne, but he was only an infant at the time, which meant that Zenobia ruled in his place. Known as a ‘warrior queen,’ she conquered Egypt in 269 and ruled the country until she was captured in 274. The queen also conquered part of Asia Minor during her reign.

Aurelian did defeat Zenobia near Antioch, Syria, but she was still permitted to live out the rest of her life in a luxurious Roman setting.