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Cleopatra - Success and LeadershipCleopatra - Success and Leadership


Cleopatra (69-30 BC)


The last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt (pictured right)

Famous for her love affairs with the Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.


Why was she a great leader?

 Cleopatra - Success and Leadership

1. Charisma and intelligence

She wasn't a great beauty unlike Elizabeth Taylor’s famous portrayal of her in the film, Cleopatra, which started her famous love affair with Richard Burton (pictured right together in the film).

But Cleopatra was:

  • very witty and charming
  • fluent in six languages. 
  • a mathematician and brilliant businesswoman.

She won over Julius Caesar by arriving at her palace rolled up in a Persian carpet.

 Cleopatra - Success and Leadership

2. Her lovers

She used her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, pictured right, to protect her throne from Roman rule and the ambitions of her husbands:

  • Ptolemy XIII (drowned in the Nile after being defeated by Caesar)
  • Ptolemy XIV (possibly poisoned by Cleopatra so that her and Caesar’s son, Caesarion, would replace him as Pharaoh).

She also charmed Mark Antony, one of the three Roman leaders after Caesar’s murder in 44 BC.

It is said that she bet him that she could spend 10 million sesteres on a dinner and did so by dissolving one of her pearl earrings in a cup of vinegar!

They first met at Tarsus (now in Turkey) where she won his heart by arriving in a huge gold plated barge with purple sails and silver oars, dressed up as Venus, the goddess of love.

They married in 32 BC, forming a powerful alliance.

  Cleopatra - Success and Leadership

3. Heroic death

In 31 BC Antony and Cleopatra fought Octavian (also called Octavius, pictured right) at the sea Battle of Actium.

Cleopatra’s fleet fled from the battle and Antony mysteriously followed her, leaving the rest of his fleet to suffer a huge defeat and the loss of 300 ships and 5,000 men.

He fell on his sword, dying in the arms of Cleopatra who then poisoned herself with an asp (an Egyptian cobra).

The ruthless Octavian (soon to become Augustus, the first Roman emperor):

  • killed Caesarion (Cleopatra and Caesar’s son). Cleopatra - Success and Leadership
  • took Cleopatra and Antony’s three children back to Rome to be raised as loyal Roman citizens (by Antony’s ex-wife and Octavius’s sister, Octavia, pictured right).


4. Great ruler

She was only one of two women (the other was the English Celtic queen, Boudica) to challenge the might of the Roman Empire.

Cleopatra also ruled her people with kindness and efficiency - for example:

  • learning their language (which Pharaohs in her Greek family had never done for 300 years).
  • lowering taxes for farmers to encourage them to produce more grain.


5. Patriotism

She was devoted to Egypt and did everything possible to keep it free from Roman control.

 Cleopatra - Success and Leadership

6. Ambition

She wanted to become emperor of the world, and she nearly did.

She amazed Julius Caesar  (pictured right) with her incredible determination to succeed.


Key quote on success

I will not be triumphed over.


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