The Tragic Death Of Cleopatra And Caesar's Son, Caesarion

In 48 B.C., Cleopatra, then the co-regent of Egypt, hatched a plan to take control of the entirety of the Egyptian empire. To do this, she decided she would have to win the support of Rome, which meant making an alliance with its leader, Julius Caesar.

Famously, Cleopatra secured this alliance by seducing Caesar, apparently enlisting her servant to help smuggle her into Caesar's bedchamber, per History Extra. Once there, she effectively seduced the Roman emperor, who was 30 years her senior at the time.

Their union produced a tangle of political twists and turns, but it also led to the birth of Caesarion, the pair's only child. Born in June of 47 B.C., Caesarion — whose full name was Ptolemy Philopator Philometor Caesar — was not at first acknowledged by his father, though Caesar did eventually recognize the child as his own when Cleopatra and Caesarion moved to Rome in 46 B.C., per Britannica.

Sadly, the lives of Caesar, Cleopatra, and Caesarion would all have tragic ends. After Caesar was assassinated, Cleopatra and Caesarion returned to Egypt. Cleopatra had dreams of her son succeeding his father as the ruler of both Rome and Egypt, but those ambitions were ultimately doomed.

Young Caesarion meets a tragic end

Upon their arrival in Egypt, Cleopatra most likely arranged the death of her younger brother and co-ruler Ptolemy XIV Theos Philopator II in order to secure Caesarion's seat on the throne, per Britannica. Caesarion spent his youth in Alexandria, Egypt, training in politics and philosophy.

Soon enough, Cleopatra once again set eyes on Rome by seducing Marc Antony, a Roman general and potential successor to Caesar. Once he and Cleopatra had established an alliance, Antony granted Cleopatra and her son dominion over a massive empire stretching from India to the Hellespont, per World History, and the 14-year-old Caesarion was appointed King of Kings.

However, in August of 30, Marc Antony was defeated by his rival Octavian, Caesar's heir and adopted son. Fearing for her own son's life, Cleopatra sent the 17-year-old Caesarion to the port city of Berenice, where he was to depart for the Red Sea. Shortly after, Marc Antony committed suicide and died in Cleopatra's arms, and Cleopatra soon followed suit.

Caesarion, then far away from Rome, received word that Octavian wanted him to rule Egypt, per World History. The moment he arrived back in Rome, however, a horde of Roman soldiers intercepted him and murdered him, clearing Octavian's path to the throne.

Historians still wonder why Caesarion chose to return to Rome. We may never know that, but one thing is clear: From birth to death, young Caesarion was a pawn in a political game, one that he and all those who used him ended up losing.