"For her actual beauty, it is said, was not itself so remarkable that none compared with her, or that no one could see her without being struck by it, but the contract of her presence, if you lived with her, was irresistable, the attraction of her person...and the character that attended all she said or did, was something bewitching."
-Plutarch about Cleopatra
Cleopatra, actually known as Cleopatra VII, was born in Egypt in 69 B.C. In 58 B.C., her father Ptolemy XII was expelled from power, so Cleopatra helped him regain his power. However, her father died in 51 B.C., and Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII took the throne. In 48 B.C., Cleopatra was exiled by her brother, who had taken control as supreme Pharoah. So, Cleopatra created an army in Syria and joined forces with Roman Julius Caesar, who became her lover and supported her cause. With his help, Ptolemy XIII was killed in 47 B.C. and Caesar pronounced Cleopatra as queen of Egypt.
As it was a custom, Cleopatra married her younger brother, 11 year old Ptolemy XIV. Cleopatra also had a child whom she named Caesarian and later became Ptolemy XV. He was thought to be Caesar's child, not Ptolemy XIV's. Then, Caesar was assassinated and her husband, Ptolemy XIV, was poisoned and died. Although Cleopatra has been implicated with possible having poisoned him, we are unsure if she really did poison him or not.
After knowing him for a few years, Cleopatra married Mark Antony around 35 B.C., even though he was also married to a woman named Octavia. Together, they had a pair of twins who they named Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios, and also another child who was named Ptolemy XVI. In 32 B.C., war was declared upon Egypt from Octavius, the brother of Mark Antony's other wife, because Antony had left Octavia for Cleopatra. Antony and Octavia soon divorced, but Cleopatra still was forced into war.
Sadly, Cleopatra's army was defeated in the Battle of Actium, and many sorrowful events followed. Mark Antony heard that Cleopatra had died, so he fell on his own sword in 31 B.C., effectively committing suicide. Cleopatra built a temple in Antony's honor called the Caesarium, which had the two small obelisks called "Cleopatra's Needles" in it. These obelisks were later given to America and Britain as gift in the 1800's. One is now in the Embankment in London, and the other is in Central Park in New York City.
Saddened by Antony's death, Cleopatra killed herself in 31 B.C., although it is much disputed over whether she simply poisoned herself or let her asp (a type of snake) complete her death. Although her life has ended, her fame continues. She has been the basis for many works of literature, including Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, John Dryden's All for Love, and George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra. She has also had many movies titled and made about her, including ones in 1914, 1934, and 1963, among others.