Cleopatra and Antony, Legendary LoversCleopatra VII of Egypt and Marc Antony, rulers of the East (37-31 BC). AR denarius (3.95 gm). Alexandria, 32 BC. CLEOPAT[RAE REGINAE REGVM] FILIORVM REGVM, diademed and draped bust of Cleopatra right, stem of galley prow before / ANTONI ARMENIA DEVICTA, bare head of Marc Antony right, Armenian tiara behind. Crawford 543/1. CRI 345. RSC 1. Attractively toned, with two excellent portraits. Nearly extremely fine.
From the Rubicon Collection. Ex M&M Basel 92 (22 November 2002). Ex M&M FPL 464 (1984), 53.
The last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra VII was born in 69 BC and succeeded her father Ptolemy XII "Auletes" in 51 BC. She soon faced a succession crisis: Her weak-willed younger brother and co-ruler, Ptolemy XIII, was dominated by a circle of courtiers who feared Cleopatra's keen intellect and resolute will. Consequently, they ousted and exiled her in 48 BC, shortly before the Roman general Pompey the Great arrived in Alexandria fresh from his defeat by Julius Caesar at the battle of Pharsalus. Ptolemy ordered Pompey's murder, but this only outraged Caesar, who showed up days later and occupied the royal palace. Cleopatra had herself smuggled in to Caesar wrapped in a carpet, and this display of spunk by the nubile 20-year-old enchanted the dictator. The two likely became lovers that night, and Caesar's bitter Alexandrine War, which ended in the defeat and death of Ptolemy, was fought on her behalf. Caesar tarried a while longer in Egypt while Cleopatra conceived and bore him a son. Caesar returned to Rome in 47 BC and summoned Cleopatra to join him the following year. She was thus in Rome when Caesar was murdered on March 15, 44 BC. Returning to Alexandria, she was summoned to meet the Triumvir Mark Antony at Tarsus in 41 BC. Once again, a powerful Roman succumbed to Cleopatra's charms, and within a year she had borne Antony twins, a boy and a girl. In 37 BC, Cleopatra provided money and supplies in support of Antony's abortive invasion of Parthia and a punitive raid on Armenia the following year. Antony's adoption of "barbaric" Egyptian customs, his increasing dependence on Cleopatra and his promise to bestow most of Rome's eastern possessions upon her and her children led his partner in power, Octavian, to declare war in 32 BC. Antony fought a lethargic campaign and suffered a heavy naval defeat at Actium in September, 31 BC, after which he and Cleopatra fled to Egypt. On Octavian's approach in 30 BC, Antony committed suicide and Cleopatra followed suit days later, utilizing the poisonous bite of the sacred asp.
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