- (69 - 30 BC) Queen of Egypt, who came to the thronewith her brother (and husband) Ptolemy Dionysius in 51 BC.She was driven from the throne by Ptolemy in 48 but reinstated in47 by Julius Caesar, by whom she had a son. In 41 Mark Antony fellunder her spell and repudiated his wife Octavia. When he was defeatedat Actium by Octavius (the future emperor Augustus), he committedsuicide. Cleopatra followed suit, supposedly by means of the biteof an asp.
The most famous and fascinating woman of the ancient world,Cleopatra has appeared on the stage in numerous guises. The "infinitevariety" of Shakespeare's Cleopatra - a woman of fleetingmoods and ambiguous motives who nevertheless achieves tragic grandeurin death - makes this perhaps the most challenging female rolein the English theater (see Antony and Cleopatra).Cleopatra also appears as a leading character in Samuel Daniel's Senecantragedy Cleopatra (1594), Dryden's All for Love, andShaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, in which she is presented asa spoilt teenager.