Cleopatra Was a Next Level Adulteress

The adulteress who changed the calendar

“Cleopatra” by John William Waterhouse, 1888. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Without Cleopatra’s adultery, September would have been called August.

But first, a little background.

Her Family

Cleopatra, whose full name was Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (father-loving), was born in 69 BCE. Her proud parents, Ptolemy XII Auletes and his sister-wife, Cleopatra V, actually brother and sister.

Or not, because the record doesn’t really say who Cleopatra VII’s mom was. Cleopatra V was Cleopatra VII’s older sister’s mom, though, so decide for yourself.

What we do know is enough, cousin, and sibling marriages were going on in the Egyptian royal family.

But don’t be too down on the Egyptians because Cleopatra was Greek. She descended from Ptolemy I, a childhood friend and general to Alexander the Great. Or, for the more politically sensitive, Alexander of Macedonia.

Alexander captured Egypt before heading east on his seven-year campaign to nowhere. On his death in 323 BC, Ptolemy snapped Egypt up and made it his family home for the next 293 years.

Her Married Life

So while we don’t know if Cleopatra’s parents were brother and sister, we know she married two of her brothers. Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator and then Ptolemy XIV.

She ascended to the throne in 51 BCE following the death of her father-uncle. She was expected to share power with the ten-year-old, Ptolemy XIII, her first brother-cousin-husband, but didn’t.

At 18, Cleopatra was having none of that, so pushed him aside and got down to business. First, by putting her face on the money and getting shit done.

Her First Affair

Eventually, Ptolemy XIII wanted his piece of the pie, so Cleopatra went to war with him. With the help of Julius Caesar, she won, and her brother-cousin-husband ended up face down in the Nile.

Julius took a shine to flashy Cleopatra and made her his baby momma. Called Caesarion, or Little Caesar, like the Pizza, their boy was murdered at 16 or 17 by Augustus Caesar.

Moving to Rome from 46–44 BCE to be closer to her love, Julius installed statues of her around town. The Romans seemed to hate, but Julius gave no fucks.

She was living in Rome when Caesar was assassinated. It was the same year she had her second brother-cousin-husband assassinated, making room for Little Caesar.

And for good measure, murdered her younger sister too for eyeing up the throne. Cleopatra’s dad had already murdered her older sister, but that’s another story.

I do have to ask at this point — can you really have an affair on your brother-cousin-husband? I mean, it seems like the better choice when your kid’s uncle-cousin isn’t his dad, doesn’t it?

She Was More Style Than Beauty

She might have been ugly, but possessed a strong intellect and hung with brains.

The first Egyptian-Macedonian ruler to learn Egyptian after only 200ish years of rule makes me think she gave a shit about her job.

When in Rome, she did as she did, rather than as the Romans did, and left a mark. The Romans didn’t like her intrusion in their spaces. Even so, Roman women somehow managed to adopt her hairstyle and began wearing pearls.

And imagine, she didn’t even have Insta. Mind you, when you’re the Emperor’s side chick, you’re going to generate some interest.

Her beauty routine involved sour donkey milk baths that worked as a mild skin peel. Using powdered crocodile turd as foundation, her heavy eye makeup kept bugs away because of its content.

Cleopatra was the sort of woman who worked with what she had and made it better. She didn’t focus on what she didn’t have like so many women do.

And while I’m sure being a queen helped, her inner beauty and power shine through her story.

Mark Antony’s Other Woman

Mark Antony seems to be the love of her life. Together they formed a drinking club called the “Inimitable Livers,” where they drank and partied. And what doesn’t say love more than a mutual interest in hijinks? They also had three kids.

There’s a lot of history that follows, but these two stayed loyal to each other until their end in 30 BCE, when they committed suicide to evade capture by Octavian.

Octavian was theatening to parade them through Rome and humiliate them.

Initially pals, Octavian and Mark fell out, went to war, and Mark lost.

Mark had married Octavia Minor, Octavian’s sister, but divorced her for Cleopatra. So there may have been some family stuff going on too.

Cleopatra chose suicide over humiliation. She lived by her own rules and on her own terms and could never allow it.

She had always taken what she wanted, fucked who she wanted and if people didn’t like it, she killed them. That is some serious Girl Power right there.

And in the end, she denied Octavian the victory parade he wanted, because fuck him.

She died of poisoning on either 10 or 12 August 30 BCE — but it wasn’t called August then.

The Month of August

Octavian became Augustus Caesar after his victory, and to celebrate, the Roman Senate voted to name a month after him.

Traditionally he should have changed the name of his birth month, September. But he chose August.


To remind himself of his victory over…Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator, the last Macedonian Queen of Egypt.

Did you like that? Here’s more from Adultery Through the Ages —8 Reasons Why Benjamin Franklin Chose GILFs as Side Chicks
Benjamin Franklin, OG GILF

© Teresa J. Conway, 2020

By Teresa J Conway on .

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Exported from Medium on March 25, 2021.

Author of How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress, several short stories, I'm active on Medium @teresajconway where I sometimes share my blog posts.

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