What Happened to Cleopatra's Children?

October 16, 2023

Mention cleopatra, and you might think of a sultry, manipulative queen of Egypt who loved powerful Romans and was always on the lookout for a way to get ahead. While she was a savvy and seductive leader, she was also a mother and had three children with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. But what happened to them after the civil war ended and she killed herself?

Cleopatra’s most famous child was Caesarion, born around 48 BC. But she had three more: twin daughters, a boy and a girl -- Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, and a son, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

After the death of her husband in 44 BCE, Cleopatra had a 3-year-old Caesarion named co-ruler. The young prince gave her a great deal of political leverage. She could import scholars and advisors to improve the kingdom, and she expanded it by annexing neighboring territories in Africa.

After her death, Octavian sent the children to his sister’s household to be raised as her own. There is no mention of them in ancient resources after this point. The twins hardly ever saw their father, who was spending most of his time in Rome. It was only when he summoned them to Antioch in 37 BCE that they met for the first time. He formally recognized them as his children in the Donations of Alexandria in 34 BCE.

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