(69—30 bc)

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queen of Egypt from 47 bc, the last Ptolemaic ruler. After a brief liaison with Julius Caesar she formed a political and romantic alliance with Mark Antony. Their ambitions ultimately brought them into conflict with Rome, and she and Antony were defeated at the battle of Actium in 31. She is reputed to have committed suicide by allowing herself to be bitten by an asp.

Cleopatra's Needles a pair of granite obelisks erected at Heliopolis by Tuthmosis III c.1475 bc. They were taken from Egypt in 1878, one being set up on the Thames Embankment in London and the other in Central Park, New York. They have no known historical connection with Cleopatra.

Cleopatra's nose is taken as the type of a single feature a change in which would have been of immeasurable influence; the reference is to a comment by the French mathematician, physicist, and moralist Blaise Pascal (1623–62), ‘Had Cleopatra's nose been shorter, the whole face of the world would have changed.’

Subjects: Arts and Humanities.

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