Antiquity’s most famous female ruler, Cleopatra reigned as Queen of Egypt during the first century BC, taking the throne at the age of 18, alongside her younger brother. She was the last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty that followed the death of Alexander the Great. She is remembered for her great beauty and presence, but also for her tenacity, intelligence and eloquence—she was known to be persuasive in multiple languages, including Greek and Italian, which supported her quest for power and influence.
Cleopatra had famous lovers, such as Roman leader Julius Caesar, whose military might she harnessed to de-throne her younger brother. Following Caesar’s death, she was summoned for political reasons to Tarsus by Marc Antony, who succumbed to her beauty and intelligence after her grand entrance. The two became lovers and married, but also leveraged each other’s power for political and territorial gains in Italy and Egypt. Cleopatra proved to be as powerful a leader as any of her male counterparts in an era of war and insurrection, while also being a mother of four. After the couple’s combined forces were defeated, causing the fall of Egypt to Rome, they committed suicide. Her life inspired Shakespeare’s 1607 tragedy, “Antony and Cleopatra,” and her iconic look with gold robes and elaborate headpieces has inspired filmmakers (1963s biopic starring Elizabeth Taylor,) artists and fashion designers alike. Luxury Italian footwear brand René Caovilla has an entire Cleopatra collection, including the sandals featured on the mannequin.
For almost 3 decades, Cleopatra VII served as the dominant ruler in her co-regencies. Her romantic liaisons, military alliances and supposed powers of seduction has earned her an enduring place in history and popular myth.