Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)
The last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra VII (69-30 B.C.E.) was crowned at eighteen and became a ruler legendary for her intellect and beauty. Characterized as a cunning seductress who secured lovers (including Julius Caesar and Mark Antony) to ensure her political power, Cleopatra quickly overthrew all other claimants to the throne in a time when it was customary for siblings to marry and co-rule. It was rumored that the twenty-two-year-old Cleopatra had herself wrapped in a rug and smuggled into Caesar’s bedroom after he was appointed dictator of Rome, to win his allegiance for the Egyptian civil war. It worked: the fifty-two-year-old Roman ruler fell for her and she was appointed sole ruler of Egypt after he defeated the pharaoh. When Antony summoned her after Caesar’s assassination, she floated down the river to him in a gilded ship filled with flowers and servants, presenting herself in the likeness of the goddess Venus. Legend has it he was captivated as soon as he saw her. Now there’s a woman who knew the importance of branding.
Cleopatra held Egypt together in a time of political turmoil. She was the last ruler during Egypt’s defiance of the Roman Empire’s expansion, she spoke Egyptian in a time when all other rulers spoke only Greek, and she successfully claimed she was the reincarnation of the goddess Isis. Her life ended as dramatically as she lived it, in a double suicide with Mark Antony—he by his own sword, upon hearing a false rumor of her death; she by inviting a poisonous asp bite while in captivity after the Roman Octavius successfully defeated Egypt.