Illustration of Cleopatra with Egyptian symbols. Illustration of Cleopatra with Egyptian symbols.

The Unexplained Death of Cleopatra- Suicide or Political Assassination?

Royalty is a boon or curse! I have no idea about it. However, I have read about lots of stories, mysteries, and conspiracies revolving around royal figures. I always say that royalty fascinates me, be it visiting any royal palace or fort or writing about any such figure. I mean I love reading and knowing about them. On the other hand, I often wonder why we see tragic ends of many royal people. Here, I’ll tell you about Cleopatra. Unfortunately, the Egyptian queen known for her beauty had met her tragic end.

The mysterious and unexplained death of Cleopatra, the Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from 51 to 30 BC, is a story that dates back more than a thousand years, with no clarity whatsoever.

Let Me First tell You About Cleopatra and Her Affairs

Cleopatra was born into a powerful family in Egypt. She used her smartness, ambition, and charm to become a ruler. She spoke many languages, led strong armies, and had relationships with two important Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. As time passed, this amazing woman, Cleopatra, got caught up in varied problems with the Roman Empire. One of Caesar’s sons, Octavian, became her enemy. In the end, Octavian and his army were close to capturing her.

Cleopatra's secret facts: A Genius of Ancient Egypt #cleopatra #ancientegypt #history #pharaohs

Cleopatra’s armies were defeated, and Mark Antony died by suicide. With nowhere to go and fearing Octavian’s capture, Cleopatra committed suicide. While the story often mentions a snake, an Egyptian cobra, some historians think differently about how she died.

The Story of the Mysterious Death of the Egyptian Queen

Even though Cleopatra was born into a royal family, she had to fight for power. When her father died, she shared the throne with her brother. The family had ruled Egypt for a long time, but Roman politics played a big role. Cleopatra saw a chance to gain power when Julius Caesar visited. Legend has it that she used a clever trick to meet him and convinced him to help her. With Caesar’s support, Cleopatra defeated her brother and took control.

After Caesar’s death, Cleopatra fled and allied with Roman general Mark Antony. However, the Romans didn’t trust her, and a war broke out. After a battle, Cleopatra and Antony retreated to Alexandria, where they faced defeat. In the end, Cleopatra, feeling trapped and fearing capture, decides to end her life. Some say she planned Antony’s death, too, hoping to seduce Octavian to stay in power. She met with Octavian but failed to change his mind. Fearing humiliation in Rome, Queen Cleopatra died by suicide with a snake, as the story goes. She was 39 years old.

What Happened After Cleopatra’s Death?

After Cleopatra died, Octavian had mixed feelings of amazement and anger. Plutarch, a Greek philosopher and historian, said he was upset about her death but admired her strong spirit. Cassius Dio, a Roman historian and senator, also mentioned that Octavian was saddened but impressed upon hearing the news. Cleopatra’s death, according to Roman standards, was honorable. Octavian saw her final act as her best, and he was content with it. He saw her as a worthy opponent, and her glory became his glory.

Unlocking the Secrets of Cleopatra's Final Stand #fact #criminalmastermind #crime

Octavian took over Egypt in August of 30 BC after winning, putting an end to centuries of Ptolemaic rule. Octavian’s men found and killed Caesarion, Cleopatra’s son.

Roman historians quickly portrayed Cleopatra as one of history’s most evil women. Propertius called her “the whore queen,” Cassius Dio described her as a woman with insatiable desires, and Lucan, a Roman poet, labeled her as the shame of Egypt and a threat to Rome.

Cleopatra’s achievements were overshadowed by her negative reputation. Her language skills and political intelligence took a back seat to her image as a “whore.” Octavian presented his victory over Cleopatra as the beginning of a new, golden era, restoring validity to laws, authority to courts, and dignity to the senate, according to historian Velleius.

As time passed, Octavian, later known as Augustus, became the hero in history, while Cleopatra was painted as the villain.

Source: Depositphotos

Dio expressed that Cleopatra, by trying to win the title of Queen of the Romans through love, failed and lost her status as Queen of the Egyptians as well. Dio concluded that she captivated the two greatest Romans of her time but destroyed herself because of the third.

The Testing of the Story 

But can we really believe this story? It seems unlikely. Not knowing what the note said, the guard would have taken just a few minutes to go to Octavian and come back, covering a long distance. However, medical experts say it would take a couple of hours for asp venom to work if it were even deadly enough to kill Cleopatra. Additionally, research suggests that only about half of the venom is usually injected in one bite, giving her a good chance of surviving.

Source: Depositphotos

Some people think Cleopatra might have taken her own life because of information found in the temple file. In the temple, there’s a carving showing the goddess Isis with a snake. Since Cleopatra was believed to be the living form of Isis, this carving hints that her death might be connected to the snake in the famous story about her death.

Was it Really a Suicide?

One idea is that Octavian planned to have Cleopatra killed to strengthen his rule over the Roman Empire. Octavian ruled the western parts, and Mark Antony looked after the east. Octavian wanted more power, so he used Cleopatra in his political game. 

This led to a war, and some think Octavian deliberately plotted to get rid of Cleopatra to control the entire empire.

Source: Depositphotos

A few experts say Octavian may have sent his guards to kill Cleopatra after he already killed her son, giving him control over everything. The dead Cleopatra was found with two of her maids, suggesting it wasn’t suicide but something more sinister.

The Icy Whiz team interviewed Henry Allen, Digital Marketing Manager at Loyalty Lion, and asked him about Cleopatra’s death by suicide or conspiracy. Here is what he said:

Henry Allen - Featured
Henry Allen

“In my experience, Cleopatra’s death by suicide, typically linked to a serpent’s bite, is a subject of historical discourse, with alternative theories hinting at potential political manipulation, perhaps by Octavian. 

Reflecting on my own experiences, I understand how conflicting narratives underscore the complexities of interpreting ancient events, often obscured by bias and inadequate evidence. 

Cleopatra’s enduring allure resonates with me due to her intellect, political acumen, and dramatic romantic entanglements, securing her prominent status in both public fascination and academic scrutiny.”

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Source- Shutterstock

Since the story goes back to ancient Egyptian times, there is no clear evidence if Cleopatra poisoned herself, if it was a snake bite, or if the snake could really kill Cleopatra. Based on the stories of the Roman province, it is believed that it was the queen’s final desperate attempt.  It is among the most tragic mysteries, and there are many more oddly fascinating conspiracy theories about Cleopatra’s life and how Cleopatra retreated. 

Experts still argue about how Cleopatra died, and it’s unclear. Only stories passed down remain about her last moments, so we might never really know what happened. Many doubt the accuracy of the commonly believed story about the end of this significant historical figure. Figuring out the truth about Cleopatra’s death, which occurred more than two thousand years ago, becomes more and more difficult.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Pragya


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. Cleopatra’s death has always fascinated me. Excited to finally get some insight into this historical mystery. I had the chance to visit Egypt, and Cleopatra’s legacy is everywhere. Her death is a mystery that has intrigued people for centuries.

  2. Thanks for this excellent article. I know only Cleopatra was a popular and beautiful queen of Egypt. This article sheds light on many things about her, including her death. She has left her name in history forever, even at a young age.

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