The Macmillan Dictionary of Women’s Biography
Jennifer Uglow, 1982

Cleopatra VII (69-30 BC). Egyptian queen.   The last ruler in the Macedonian Dynasty, founded by Alexander the Great’s general, Ptolemy… Her family was wholly Greek, although she did learn Egyptian and declared herself to be the daughter of the Sun God, Ra, to enhance her status as a nationalist leader.   ….She set out to win the support of Julius Caesar (allegedly being smuggled into his camp in a bed-roll), who arrived in Egypt in 48 BC, and he returned her to the throne with another brother, Ptolemy XIII, after severe fighting.

After Caesar defeated Pompey, Cleopatra went to Rome, where she was treated as a royal personage and lived in one of Caesar’s villas; officially she went there to negotiate a treaty.   After his assassination in 44 BC she returned to Egypt, and saw her next opportunity to exploit the protection of Roman military power when Mark Anthony invited her to meet him before his planned invasion of Persia….She persuaded him to return to Alexandria, where they apparently lived in luxuriousness idleness. …(discussion of children borne here)

After a year in Greece, they found themselves committed to war with Rome and, deprived of the support of Herod of Judaea, whom Cleopatra’s greed for territory had alienated, sent their fleets to meet Octavian in 31BC.   Cleopatra abandoned the battle at Actium and fled to Egypt.   After she had sent a message that she was dead, Anthony committed suicide.   She tried to win over Octavian but failed, and killed herself to   avoid public humiliation, supposedly by an asp which was smuggled to her in a bowl of fruit.