What Happened To Cleopatra's Children?

Mention Cleopatra, and adjectives like "brilliant" and "politically savvy" and "exotic" come to mind, propelled in no small part by the way filmmakers have co-opted her life and legacy to create a sultry, manipulative Queen of the Nile. Ruler of Egypt, partner of powerful Romans, even ruthless, sure — but Mommy?

She was born around 69 BCE, officially Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator, says Biography. She was born the daughter of a king, and in time inherited the throne, which she shared with her brother — she was 18, he was 10. They probably married — that was the custom in those times in Egypt — but eventually she wanted the throne to herself. Enter the Romans — specifically, Julius Caesar, with whom she had a relationship and a son, Caesarion. She followed Julius back to Rome, but returned to Egypt after his assassination.

Enter another Roman, Mark Antony, part of the ruling aristocracy of Rome in the wake of the assassination of Julius. He and Cleopatra joined forces, resulting in three more children: twins (a boy and a girl) and another son. Long story short: things went south in Egypt; Mark Anthony, thinking Cleopatra was dead, committed suicide; upon hearing the news, Cleopatra also committed suicide, traditionally by poisonous snake, although that's generally discounted as a myth.

And the children?

Cleopatra Selene ruled on behalf of Rome

The eldest had ruled alongside his mother, according to Ancient Origins. She had high hopes for his future — perhaps he would become as great as his father, Julius. Caesarion stepped into the breach upon the death of his mother, but Octavian — the future Caesar Augustus, the Roman who had defeated Mark Antony and Mother — had Caesarion murdered just three days after Cleopatra's demise in 30 BCE. Caesarion was about 17 years old.

There's a distinct lack of information about the third son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, which suggests he might not have survived to adulthood. As for the twins — Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene — Octavian took them back to Rome as sort of human trophies of his triumph in Egypt. After parading them through the city he gave them to his elder sister (coincidentally, Mark Antony's ex-wife). History Today suggests that Alexander, too, died in childhood, thus disappearing from the historical record. Eventually Augustus gave Cleopatra Selene in marriage to King Juba of Numidia (along with a nice dowry), making them allies of Rome, sent to rule Mauretania on behalf of the Roman Empire. They governed together for close to two decades, until Cleopatra Selene's death at the age of 35 in 5 BCE.