Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (69 BCE – 30 BCE), known to history simply as Cleopatra, was the last effective pharaoh of Egypt, ruling from 51 BCE to 30 BCE. She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and the elder sister of Ptolemy XIII.
A member of the Greek-Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty, Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father, and later with her brother Ptolemy XIII, whom she married as per Egyptian custom. As queen, she later consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne.
Early life and exile from Egypt
Cleopatra was born in 69 BCE in Alexandria to Ptolemy XII Auletes. Following her father's death in 51 BCE, a then eighteen-year-old Cleopatra succeeded him as the next pharaoh of Egypt, co-jointly ruling the country alongside Ptolemy XIII.
In the early years of their reign between 50 and 48 BCE, the land was aggravated by extreme droughts and floods. In 49 BCE, Cleopatra was exiled by her younger brother Ptolemy XIII, who had been supported by the Order of the Ancients, causing her to flee Alexandria with the help of her loyal follower, Apollodorus. During her years in exile, Cleopatra lived in Apollodorus' personal estate. She later made the acquaintance of Aya, a former Medjay who was introduced to her by Apollodorus. The two shared a bond and became close friends, with Aya becoming her agent.
Reclaiming her throne
In 48 BCE, Cleopatra was introduced to Bayek of Siwa, Aya's husband who had hunted various members of the Order responsible for her exile. Cleopatra revealed to Bayek that the Snake, whom he thought to be Eudoros, was actually the Order itself and that he was known by the cryptonym, the Hippo. Cleopatra appointed Bayek as her personal Medjay, tasking him to eliminate the members of the Order across Upper Egypt, namely the Scarab, the Hyena, the Crocodile, and the Lizard. Soon after Bayek's departure to hunt down the Ancients, Cleopatra appointed Aya and Phoxidas to the Aegean Sea to seek out Pompey, a Roman general who had been defeated by Julius Caesar in the midst of a civil war, hoping to secure his support against her brother.
Sometime thereafter, Cleopatra, accompanied by Apollodorus and her personal guards, travelled to Memphis ahead of the upcoming Apis festival. During this time, she resided at the Palace of Apries, on one occasion giving a speech to the city's displeased residents in an attempt to gain their support. Aya and Bayek later arrived with the clues surrounding the identity of the Lizard, who was later revealed to be a priest of Anubis under Pasherenptah. When it was made apparent the twin priestesses Tawe and Taous played a part in poisoning the Apis bull, thereby possibly putting the festival in jeopardy, Cleopatra called for them to be boiled to them but was stopped by Aya, who stated they were coerced into doing so by the Lizard, who had captured their brother Panchrates. Cleopatra later called for the elimination of Lizard to be done as soon as possible before her departure to Herakleion.
Bayek soon assassinated the Lizard and returned with his mask, thus ending the Order's reign of terror in the city. At the same time, the Apis bull recovered and the festival was thus able to continue. Cleopatra participated in the festival before departing to Herakleion, while Bayek continued to hunt down the supposed last member, the Crocodile.
Alliance with Caesar
In late 48 BCE, Cleopatra arrived and resided in a palace in Herakleion, awaiting the arrival of Pompey and his army. While residing there, she sent Aya and Phoxidas out to the sea once again to defend against the Gabiniani, a group of Romans who resided in Egypt and supported her brother Ptolemy. During this time, Apollodorus captured Livius, an informant of the Ancients who was caught spying on Cleopatra during her stay in the palace. Apollodorus uncovered an plot by the Gabiniani led by Venator and Lucius Septimius to assassinate Cleopatra. When Bayek travelled to Herakleion after eliminating the Crocodile, Cleopatra gave him two more cryptonyms of the Ancients to hunt down: namely the Jackal and the Scorpion. Cleopatra brought the brutalized Livius infront of Bayek, believing him to know of the Khemu's killer. After allowing Bayek to beat up the informant, Cleopata tasked him to investigate and dismantle the assassination plot against her in the city.
Bayek eventually does so and returned to Cleopatra outside the palace, reuniting with Aya who returned from her naval mission. The reunion was interrupted by the ambush of Venator and his followers. After the defeat of Venator, Cleopatra called for the need to end the civil war against her brother, tasking Aya and Bayek to meet with Pompey's forces west of the city in Herakleion Nome. However, Pompey and his army were ambushed by Septimius, who had Pompey's head cut off and brought back to Alexandria. Having lost her support, Cleopatra resolved to make an alliance with Caesar, who arrived in pursuit of Pompey. Cleopatra and her followers boarded Phoxidas fleet and set sail to Alexandria. Despite attacks from Ptolemy's fleet, they successfully arrived in the port of Alexandria in 47 BCE.
As Cleopatra would be recognized and attacked right away, she wrapped herself in a carpet and allowed Apollodorus to carry her into the palace while he posed as the phylakitai of Hermopolis. In the meantime, Aya and Bayek posed as servants to Apollodorus. Guided by the Roman guards, they made their way into the palace, interrupting a meeting between Ptolemy and Caesar. As Caesar was mesmerized by Cleopatra's beauty, he called for a private meeting to speak with her alone, an act which deeply infuriated Ptolemy. The boy pharaoh left with his men while Apollodorus, Aya and Bayek remained outside the palace.
Cleopatra soon began a secretive relationship with Caesar. To further gain his support against Ptolemy, she sought to use the Tomb of Alexander the Great as a means. To this end, she appointed Aya the next day to locate an alternative entrance to the tomb, as the main entrance had been damaged by an earthquake during her father's reign. Aya and Bayek navigated through an opening within the tomb walls and unlocked the tomb from within, allowing Apollodorus, Caesar and Cleopatra to enter. As they were reminiscing the glory of Alexander the Great, they were interrupted by Caesar's general Flavius Metellus, who reported that their emissaries had been captured and brought to the Akra Garrison. Cleopatra remarked that she would send her guards to investigate, since the Alexandreans were less receptive towards the Romans. However, Aya volunteered herself and Bayek to investigate instead.
Later, Aya reported back to the palace with her findings, discovering that Ptolemy's army including Septimius were planning to trap both Caesar and Cleopatra in the palace and the city. As the siege began, Cleopatra tasked Aya to eliminate Ptolemy if she ever had the chance. Together with the Aya, Bayek, and the Romans aid, the siege was successfully broken, leading to a final decisive battle at the Nile delta. Ptolemy was eaten by a crocodile while both Pothinus and Septimius were defeated.
With Ptolemy and his followers dead, Cleopatra gained sole control of Egypt and allied herself with Caesar. Septimius was spared from execution and his services were employed by Caesar, which both Aya and Bayek described as an act of betrayal. Cleopatra relinquished the services of Aya and Bayek, tasking Apollodorus to inform them of her decision. Believing Cleopatra to have betrayed Egypt, Aya and Bayek formed an organization with a group of like-minded individuals to fight against the Order, whom they believed to have corrupted both Caesar and Cleopatra.
The result of her relation with Caesar led to the birth of Caesarion in June that year. Cleopatra and her infant son then moved to Rome, where they served as Caesar's guests. 3 years later on 15 March 44 BCE, Caesar was assassinated in the Theatre of Pompey as a result of a conspiracy led by Aya, who recruited Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, calling themselves the Hidden Ones.
3 days later, Aya confronted the queen in her village in the outskirts of Rome. Angered, Cleopatra remarked that her son would have set on the throne of Rome if Caesar had lived. When she tried to strike her former agent, Aya drew her Hidden Blade, choosing to spare Cleopatra out of respect for her former employer and her son Caesarion. Aya warned Cleopatra to be the Pharaoh Egypt needs, or she would make the decision to eliminate her herself.
War against Octavian and death
- "And Akila? Thank you. For all you have done. We have no friend but resolution and the briefest end."
- ―Cleopatra's final moments, 30 BCE.[src]
With the death of Caesar, his adopted son Octavian became the heir instead of Caesarion. Fearing his power, Cleopatra allied herself with Marcus Antonius, a friend of Caesar in 41 BCE. A political and romantic relationship followed, and in the Winter of that year, Cleopatra gave Antony a sumptuous tour of Egypt by boat. By 38 BCE, she was introduced to Gaius Julius Rufio, an former officer under Caesar and secretly a member of the Order of the Ancients as well. On one occasion, she was seemingly disrespected by Rufio, leading Antonius to reprimand him for it and respect the queen in the next meeting.
Eventually, a civil war broke out between Antonius and Octavian in the March 32 BCE. Fearing for her and her son's safety, Cleopatra moved back to Alexandria. In 31 BCE, Anthony was defeated at the Battle of Actium and committed suicide. With Antony dead and her fate sealed, Cleopatra made her final stand in Alexandria, where she trained Caesarion to fight when the time comes. On 12 August 30 BCE, as Octavian's army seized Alexandra, Cleopatra survived an assassination attempt by one of Octavian's messengers and had her killed. Later, Cleopatra watched as her son trained with a soldier and was knocked down. She comforts her son by telling him that every defeat is a chance to learn towards a victory. They were then interrupted by the sight of fires in the distance, as Octavian closed in further.
That evening, Cleopatra finds Caesarion looking to the horizon, as Octavian's men close in. As their bodyguard advises them to stay in place, he walks away to investigate a noise. Suddenly an assailant rushes towards Cleopatra, leaving Caesarion to defend her and ultimately kill the would-be assassin. The bodyguard returns shortly after, and believing him to have been partly behind the assassination attempt, Cleopatra goads her son into killing the guard too.
As Octavian rapidly approached, Cleopatra was confronted one last time by Amunet back at her palace in the city. There, her former servant implored her to resign to Octavian's victory, to which the pharaoh acquiesced on the condition that Amunet take Caesarion with her and train him as a Hidden One. Amunet handed her a poison by which to commit suicide and left with Caesarion. Once Cleopatra was certain that her son was gone and far away, she thanked Akila for her servitude before consuming the poison. Within mere moments, Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt, was dead.
Though Amunet had not directly killed Cleopatra, later Assassins romanticized her role in her death with the legend that she had assassinated the queen with a venomous asp. Statues of Amunet with a serpent coiled around her were erected in the Sanctuary under the Villa Auditore in Monteriggioni and in her cenotaph in Venice's St. Mark's Basilica, reinforcing the popular account.
Details of Cleopatra and her death were later collected by the Assassin Clay Kaczmarek in 2012, and hidden in the Animus as Glyphs for his successor, Desmond Miles to find. Which he did in September of that year. Desmond solved this puzzle, which was part of a set titled "Bloodlines" in which Cleopatra was excluded from a list of historical individuals known to have consorted with gods. The painting in the Glyph was Cleopatra and Caesar, by Jean-Léon Gérôme. She however included in the next Glyph "Guardians" in the list of historical figures in power assassinated. Accompanying her name was the 1887 John William Waterhouse painting Cleopatra. That same year Cleopatra was also included in a mnemonic set in Abstergo Industries' Project Legacy.
Personality and characteristics
- "I am Queen until a sword plunges through my heart. And even then, my blood will stay on my throne."
Cleopatra was a figure who often displayed an irreverent and whimsical exterior, lavishing in wealth and indulging in all the aristocratic pleasures of life. She was shown to be quite charismatic, easily swaying the Egyptian crowds into accepting her as a ruling figure. This was mostly because she had a very charming voice that could make even a lovesick man become enamored with the sweet tones of her voice. Because her voice was her most defining feature, she was able to sway Julius Caesar to her side after a single meeting by appealing to his desire for greatness. To that end, she cultivated the image of being a goddess among her people to gain their admiration and loyalty.
However, beneath her charmingly hedonistic exterior was a ruthless, seductive, and determined political manipulator willing to get rid of anyone in the way of her obtaining rulership and going through any means of securing her path to power. To that end she allied herself with the Medjay of Siwa and his wife before betraying them to join the Order of the Ancients to consolidate her rule over Egypt and Rome via a marriage to Caesar and tried to use her Caesar-spawned son Caesarion to strengthen her control of Rome. She was also shown to be quite cruel, initially demanding the Twin Priestesses to be boiled to death inside a Bronze Bull after she was initially told they poisoned the ceremonial Apis Bull and wanting to have her brother slain to eliminate any obstacles to her birthright.
Cleopatra was the only Ptolemaic Pharaoh to speak the Egyptian language, as well as Greek. Cleopatra was regarded as being one of the most educated women of her time—speaking nine languages by the time she was 20.
Behind the scenes
Cleopatra is a historical figure and character first introduced in Assassin's Creed II in the Glyph puzzles via paintings. She made her first actual appearance in Assassin's Creed: Origins where she is voiced by Zora Bishop.
The name Cleopatra is derived from the Greek name Κλεοπάτρα (Kleopatra) which meant "she who comes from glorious father" or "glory of the father" in the feminine form, derived from κλέος (kleos) "glory" combined with πατήρ (pater) "father" (the masculine form would be written either as Kleopatros (Κλεόπατρος), or Patroklos (Πάτροκλος)). The name is also shared with numerous Greco-Macedonian princesses, queen consorts and/or queen regnants. The real Cleopatra had a large aquiline nose like most of her dynasty, and was noted not to have been remarkably attractive.
- Assassin's Creed II (mentioned only)
- Assassin's Creed Revelations (mentioned only)
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy (Mnemonic sets)
- Assassin's Creed: Origins (first appearance)
- The Hidden Ones (mentioned only)
- Assassin's Creed: Origins comic
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla (mentioned only)
- Assassin's Creed: Rebellion
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt: "Introduction"
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt: "Co-rule with Ptolemy XIII & Exile"
- Assassin's Creed: Origins
- Assassin's Creed Origins: Official Game Guide
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Egypt's Medjay
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Pompeius Magnus
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – The Lizard's Face
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Ambush At Sea
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Way of the Gabiniani
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Aya: Blade of the Goddess
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – The Battle of the Nile
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Fall of an Empire, Rise of Another
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt: "Cleopatra & Antony"
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – The Hidden Ones – Sic Semper Tyrannis
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Issue #01
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Issue #02
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Issue #03
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Issue #04
- Assassin's Creed II – A Change of Plans
- Assassin's Creed II – San Marco's Secret
- Assassin's Creed: Initiates – The Desmond Files
- Assassin's Creed II – Glyph 14: "Bloodlines"
- Assassin's Creed II – Glyph 15: "Guardians"
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy