Cleopatra was not Egyptian

Although she is perhaps one of the most famous figures of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was not actually Egyptian.

She was born in Alexandria (named after Alexander the Great), and was descended from Ptolemy I.  Ptolemy was Macedonian Greek and a general under Alexander the Great.  Following the death of Alexander in 323BC, Ptolemy began the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Egypt after a brief dispute with Perdiccas, another of Alexander’s generals.  Perdiccas was ultimately murdered by two of his subordinates for failing to defeat Ptolemy.

The Ptolemaic Pharaohs, of which Cleopatra was the last, generally continued to follow greek culture and traditions.  Cleopatra was one of the first to speak Egyptian.

Image: Cleopatra and Caesar by Jean-Léon Gérôme [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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