A huge relief on the front wall of the Hathor Temple at Dendera that depicts Cleopatra VII, Julius Caeser and their son Caesarion.
Cleopatra was a shrewd enough politician to realize that linking Egypt’s fortunes with those of Rome would be the best way to secure her kingdom, and in the traditional way of Hellenistic queens, she used dynastic ties to try protect her rights.
Julius Caesar, then in his fifties, fell in love with the twenty-one-year-old queen -much to the horror of many Romans. Cleopatra bore him a child named Caesarion, and seemed as if a new dynasty would rule Egypt, but first Caesar would have to marry the queen and declare the child legitimate.
When Julius Caesar returned to Rome in 46 B.C., he celebrated a triumph in which he demonstrated the subjugation of Egypt by having Cleopatra’s younger sister march in chains. Yet, Cleopatra was still the acknowledged queen of Egypt, and Caesar placed a statue of her made of gold in the temple of Venus. Cleopatra, her son, Caesarion, and her consort Ptolemy XIV joined Caesar in 46 B.C., and they stayed in Caesar’s villa outside Rome. Caesar may have planned to gain special permission from the Roman people to marry Cleopatra, but his plans were cut short by his assassination in 44 B.C. Cleopatra would need all her wits and charm to hold her throne without her champion.
As was customary in the Hellenistic dynasties, Cleopatra first placed her hopes in her son, Caesarion, expecting that he could rule and that as a son of Caesar he would receive Rome’s support. Her younger brother stood in the way of a clear succession, and he was poisoned about the time of Caesar’s death. Historians differ about Cleopatra’s role in her brother’s death. Cleopatra quickly returned to Egypt with Caesarion to await the power struggle that was sure to come…
-Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World, Joyce Salisbury.