Egypt was dependent. It was a client state of Rome. It means that Egypt was part of the Roman Empire. At that time, Egypt had a king or queen, called Cleopatra. Cleopatra was born in 70 BC. She was daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Her father died when Cleopatra was young. She became Queen of all Egypt but there were other powerful men in Egypt. Cleopatra needed protection then she met Julius Caesar. He fell in love with her and Julius Caesar became her protector. Due to the Roman Emperor’s help, Egypt flourished. It became a great trading country.
But in Rome, Julius Caesar was not safe. He had rivals. In 44 BC, Julius Caesar was murdered. The result was civil war in Rome. Two men were victorious, Augustus and Mark Antony. They divided the Roman Empire between them. Augustus ruled the west, and Antony the east but they became rivals too.
In 41 BC Antony ordered Cleopatra to come and see him. He had heard reports that she had helped his enemies in the civil war. He wanted her to explain but at this meeting, Antony fell in love with her. For Anthony, it was a disaster. His judgment suffered. He began to spend all his time in Alexandria with Cleopatra. He forgot about affairs of state.
Meanwhile Augustus was plotting. There was exchange of messages between Augustus and Antony. The messages were accusing, and then insulting. At last, war was declared. Augustus sailed towards Egypt with a big fleet of ships. Anthony’s officers were worried. Was Antony ready to fight a war or was he only interested in Cleopatra?
Cleopatra had only a small army but she had a big, powerful fleet. She wanted to fight together with Anthony. So she asked him to fight Augustus at sea. It was a significant mistake. Augustus was a better admiral. The battle of Actium was fought in 31 BC. During the battle, Cleopatra heard a report that Antony was dead. It wasn’t true but Cleopatra panicked. She left the battle, and sailed back to Alexandria. Antony saw and followed her. The Egyptian ships saw their leaders sailing away. The whole fleet panicked, and fled. The Egyptian fleet was completely destroyed.
When Antony realized what had happened, he argued bitterly with Cleopatra. He knew that he had failed. Many of his soldiers were deserting, and going to Augustus. Augustus’ army was getting close. There was a rumor that Cleopatra had committed suicide. Antony could not continue. He ran upon his sword and died. In fact, Cleopatra was still alive. When she had of Antony’s suicide, she went to her tomb. She had been building this tomb for herself for years. She ordered a servant to bring her a snake. It was called an asp. It was a small snake, but deadly poisonous. Cleopatra held the snake to her breast. Calmly, she let it bite her. A few moments later she was dead.