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Antony & Cleopatra Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Learn about Cleopatra, the famous queen of Egypt, and Mark Antony, the Roman military leader. Antony and Cleopatra fought against another Roman leader named Octavian, but were defeated at the Battle of Actium.

Antony and Cleopatra

You might know about the love story of Mark Antony and Cleopatra from movies and stories, but have you ever learned about some of the history behind it? In this lesson, you'll learn about the history of Rome and Egypt and people who were involved with Cleopatra and Antony, like Julius Caesar and Octavian.

Mark Antony

Mark Antony was a Roman general. As a young man, Antony served in the military under the famous general Julius Caesar. A few years later, he fought in the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. A civil war is a war where both armies come from the same country. In this war, both of the armies were from Rome. Mark Antony sided with Caesar and helped Caesar win the war, putting Caesar in charge of Rome. But Caesar didn't get to enjoy his power for long. In 44 BCE, he was killed by a group of his enemies.

(As a reminder, BCE dates are counting down towards 0, so 44 BCE comes before 43 BCE).

Mark Antony and Octavian

After Caesar was killed, Antony took over, but someone else wanted his job: Octavian, Caesar's adopted son. Mark Antony and Octavian started fighting for control of Rome, but in 43 BCE, they decided to team up and rule Rome together. The two men divided up the Roman Empire. Octavian got the western part, and Antony got the Eastern part, including Egypt. That's where Antony met Cleopatra.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra was the queen of Egypt, and she identified herself with the Egyptian goddess Isis. She had helped Julius Caesar during the war between Caesar and Pompey, and Caesar was the father of one of Cleopatra's children (nicknamed Caesarion after his father). As queen of Egypt, Cleopatra traveled to meet Antony in 41 BCE, the same way leaders of countries today meet to talk about important issues.

When she met Antony, Cleopatra dressed up as a goddess. Antony, who also identified himself as a god, began a relationship with Cleopatra even though he was already married. Antony and Cleopatra had three children together, two boys and a girl.

What an artist imagined Antony and Cleopatra were like together
Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra vs. Octavian

Antony's wife died soon after Antony met Cleopatra, but Antony couldn't marry Cleopatra since she wasn't a Roman citizen. Instead, he married Octavian's sister Octavia, but still maintained his love relationship with Cleopatra. Antony even tried to make Cleopatra's son Caesarion, Julius Caesar's 'real' son, more important than Octavian, who was Caesar's adopted son.

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