What happened to Cleopatra’s and Julius Caesar’s son? – Nat Geo TV Blogs

What happened to Cleopatra’s and Julius Caesar’s son?


More than 2,000 years after her death, Cleopatra, the last Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, remains one of the most famous and fabled women in history. Almost forgotten, however, is Ptolemy XV Caesar, AKA Caesarion, her son fathered by Julius Caesar, who was groomed for greatness that was never to be. Caesarion, whose name means “little Caesar,” was the last Pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty, and an heir and potential successor to his father in Rome as well. Instead, he apparently met a brutal, ignominious end at age 17, gasping futilely for his last breath as he was strangled by a Roman captor.

The strange, sad saga of Cleopatra’s and Julius Caesar’s male offspring–and probably, the Roman leader’s only son–began in 47 BC, when he was born in Egypt out of wedlock. As a young child, he and his mother spent two years in Rome as Caesar’s guests. The Roman historian Suetonius notes that by some accounts, “the boy closely resembled Caesar in features as well as in gait.”  Cleopatra had ambitions that Caesarion would someday inherit his father’s place as leader of Rome and Egypt as well, but those ambitions were dashed by Julius Caesar’s murder in 44 B.C. Instead, Caesarion and his mother returned to Alexandria, where she installed him as her co-ruler–in name only, of course– at the age of 3. 

As the son of Caesar and Cleopatra grew into a teenager, he became a pawn of sorts in the Roman power struggle between his mother’s new lover, Marc Antony, and his father’s nephew Octavian. As co-rulers of Rome, Antony and Octavian each sought to undermine the other and grab sole power. One of Antony’s strategies was to promote Caesarion as being a closer and more worthy heir to Julius Caesar and his authority than Octavian. Antony showed land claims and lofty titles upon Caesarion, and even proclaimed him to be divine. Unfortunately for Antony, those ploys known as the Donations of Alexandria, turned out to be his undoing. Octavian successfully portrayed Antony as a traitor who was out to subordinate Rome to Egypt, and exploited the resulting resentment to rally support for a war against Antony and Cleopatra.

In 30 BC, after Octavian’s forces defeated Antony’s and Cleopatra’s defenders in the battle of Actium, they invaded Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra both committed suicide, rather than submit to Octavian. But before her death, Cleopatra apparently laid out an escape route for Caesarion.

What happened after that is murky. According to the Roman historian Cassius Dio’s account, Octavian’s forces captured Caesarion on the road to Ethiopia and murdered him, and Suetonious gives a similar report. Other sources have Caesarion being tricked into coming out of hiding at the port of Bernenice, on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. Another Roman historian, Plutarch, tells a different story

Cleopatra had him sent unto the Indians through Ethiopia, with a great sum of money. But one of the governors also called Rhodon, even such another as Theodorus, persuaded him to return into his country, and told him that Caesar [Octavian] sent for him to give him his mother’s kingdom. 

Instead, however, Octavian listened to his confidant, the philosopher Arius Didymus, who advised that “too many Caesars is not good,” which Plutarch informs us is a pun based on a line from Homer’s Odyssey, “Too many lords doth not well.” (In Robert Fagles’  modern translation of Homer, the line becomes, “If you serve too many masters, you’ll soon suffer.”)

Octavian then ordered Caesarion’s murder. There is no definitive account, but the most popular version seems to be that he was strangled by his captors. Octavian then declared himself ruler of Egypt, and went on to become the first Roman emperor, under the name of Augustus. 

Be sure to tune in to The Real Cleopatra on Friday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.

Comments

  1. l.shawn
    November 11, 2012, 9:15 am

    Cleopatra said Ceasarion isthe king of king when he was 3yrs old… Ceasarion in India is the Jesus in India during that same time. the whole roman empire and the pope is lying to us for years. they brain washing us about who these peoples was. JAH see & know.

  2. ethan lopetrone
    west virginia
    January 24, 2013, 1:58 pm

    cleopatra is sexy

  3. Nkulee
    South Africa
    March 28, 2013, 6:30 pm

    I find this very intriguing, there’s a lot to learn from Cleopatra’s and Anthony’s mistakes. I recently saw the film and loved it.

  4. Christa Sloan
    April 3, 2013, 6:05 am

    @i.shawn. I agree, Julius Ceasar = jc born 0bc?? A little too much of a coincidence to be believable

  5. vjeshkumar
    chennai
    May 8, 2013, 12:11 pm

    @ l.shawn where did you get those info….

  6. Hugo Danner
    Wisonsin, USA
    September 12, 2013, 10:11 pm

    I think JFK was the US’s ceasar. Assassinated ny his own military & titally power hungry corrupt politicans. All to make $$ off the war in Viet Nam .

  7. Amy Wright
    Marksville la
    October 16, 2013, 4:57 pm

    Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior …Julius Ceasar And Cleopatras bastard was not and will never be Our Jesus Christ !!!!

  8. Jesus
    Bethlehem
    November 24, 2013, 4:06 pm

    Shut up Amy wright

  9. Iulius
    Augusta, Australia
    December 7, 2013, 4:18 am

    Hugo Danner, I wonder how one could make money off a war when the president is assassinated. Also, Julius Caesar wasn’t assassinated by his own military. Just say’in.

  10. Jesus Christ
    israel
    December 10, 2013, 3:55 pm

    Amy Wright! I command you to shut up and follow Julius Caesar instead. Also, I find Cleopatra extremely hot and sexy…

  11. MadHatter
    U.S.
    December 29, 2013, 3:35 pm

    Claiming to be the Christ. Seriously not funny, and in fact rather dangerous for one’s soul. I would pray for those who do such things, if I didn’t already know they’re given to a reprobate spirit. God Bless Amy Wright, keep on proclaiming the word and who the Lord of Lords and King of Kings really is. :)

  12. SOHT
    January 11, 2014, 7:34 pm

    Is it really that hard to believe in Jesus? I wonder if He ever feels any sadness after loving us so much and not receiving it back. What an evil guy right? Love your neighbors as yourself and treat people with love no matter where their from. What a terrible lesson right? Don’t murder anyone cause is not your life to take. Don’t steal because is not yours to take. Treat your parents with love and respect. What a terrible idea right? What do you have to loose in loving Jesus? For ideas sake let’s say there is no Jesus, which there is, but if there wasn’t when all this is over, you neither lose nor gained anything. But if this world ended today and Jesus descended from heaven you lose more than you could ever replace. Live a good life, have fun, be healthy, always love, give it some thought. Ultimately the choice is yours. Whatever the choice, I hope you have a good life 😉

  13. El Bearsidente
    July 29, 2014, 7:07 pm

    Essentially Jesus stole all his ideas from Buddha, a classic monotheist move. They like to steal everything. Ideas, lands, people. The past 2,000 years are full of monotheists stealing everything. But this dates back even farther to the Jews, who, because they were envious of the true high cultures in the area, cooked up fairy tales and lies about things like the tower of Babylon. Heck, they even stole monotheism from the Egyptians!

    There is also no factual evidence that proves Cleopatra’s claim to be truthful. For all we know she lied, in order to try and get her Egypt back to old glories.

  14. The one that knows
    Utah
    October 21, 2014, 2:55 am

    The truth is not so glamorous and romantic as that of Shakespeare. Cleopatra married Mark Anthony as a political maneuver. She never loved him to the depth as that of Julius Caesar. She needed Mark Anthony to survive but he wasn’t clever or intelligent enough to outrun Cleopatra’s or Julius Caesar’s enemies. In the end, Mark Anthony loved Cleopatra far more than she did him. Cleopatra never committed suicide as history reports it. In reality, her closest maid or servant actually murdered her out of jealousy. Her maid was in love with Cleopatra’s ability to attract men and when she saw her go from Caesar to Anthony and then Octavion’s lust for her she decided to kill her. She brought in the Asp and did the dirty deed and then claimed that Cleopatra had committed suicide to save herself. Cleopatra was to much of a fighter to have ever committed suicide. She would have schemed and plotted to the bitter end for a way and opportunity to destroy her captor and take back that which was meant to be. Caesarion would have been her concern and focus to her dying breath. She would have never killed herself leaving him to fend for himself. In time, if they ever uncover where she was buried, they will find that she and Julius also had a daughter that she tried to pass off as Mark Anthony’s. They will be buried side by side.

  15. Da Best Around
    aint nobody gonna get me down
    December 4, 2014, 2:14 pm

    So why is the Catholic Church lying about Jesus because if Julius Caesar was actually Jesus then why lie?

  16. sky does stuff
    December 4, 2014, 2:23 pm

    why u no like me comments
    braddah we the kind cool brah cus i know the kind u know the kind when u flip the thingy and then u no can see no mo nothing no more cus u no mo light and dats what i feel if u went and delete me comments braddah cus u know we only be playin man aint nobody mean nothin bad braddah, u know? ps shoutouts for this page they be helpin me with me project right now brah thanks and pls do not delete me comments senior gracias!

  17. Nobody
    in the sky
    December 11, 2014, 7:41 am

    I respect your beliefs El Bearisdente, but the tower of Babylon was real, it was destroyed when adonai flooded the earth. And the Jews did not get monotheism from the egyptians. It started when Adonai told Abraham, “Follow me and your people shall be a great nation.” Then the Jews many years later, after Abraham, went to Egypt to get food during the famine, and then the cruel pharoh enslaved them.

  18. Chloe L.
    Dallas, Texas
    December 28, 2014, 11:47 am

    okay this talk about Julius Caesar/Caesarian being the actual Jesus Christ…? what? take a step back and realize, Jesus on earth was a gentle and humble man, created in an even more humble woman and man, Who helped and loved all others. yes He was doubted then, and He will always be doubted by people like you, who try to commit yourself to other ridiculous theories, some not so ridiculous and in more accordance with science, those I can try to respect. but a harsh, roman conquerer? if our God was to be represented in any type of human or well-known man, He would never pick such a being. Jesus will come again, but Caesarian or his parents, will not.
    I do enjoy reading about this time in life, maybe not because I think it has glamourous, adorable endings, (because this one surely does not) but because it happened, reality. I am saddened though, that Caesarian’s plan was cut short against his parents’ and his will, I would have loved to read about an heir ruler.

  19. TIM RUNGAI
    Elementaita, Kenya
    December 31, 2014, 1:55 pm

    So much for Julius Caeser & Cleopatra. Can a serious historian inform us where the King Solomon’s mines were located? Stop spreading Pedestrian gossip in the name of history. Julius Caesar being Jesus is one big idiotic rumour to appear in several thousand years.

  20. nick
    January 31, 6:48 pm

    Some needs to inform miss write tgat the letter j was not around durring those times so there was no jesus did she miss the passion of christ the jews stole a religion and kick us it belonged to to the curb wake up i love my christ as much as you yours and mine is this one sorry your love is not that strong weak jew christian

  21. Fo Fhang
    Ohio
    February 25, 2:41 pm

    Cleopatra looked just like Elizabeth Taylor before she got all fat

  22. michael
    April 30, 5:04 pm

    all the pro “Christians” are just regurgitating what they learned in sunday school. deception is everywhere. does the story of jesus christ logical? i know i know, hes the son of god, it doesnt have to be logical. ya know what else doesn’t need to be logical? fairytales. I believe Jesus existed, but not as they portray him. the main story of jesus is the sotry of julias c. Jesus AKA little ceasar did go to india and tibet and learned their ways. he was expecting they to kill him when returning home, but escaped and died in India.
    The crucifixion story is about the literal sun. “the sun died on the cross, after 3 days rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at right hand of the father, he will come again to to judge the living and the dead” the sun will literally stop for 3 days, then will “rise up” and will sit next the pyramid at the center of the earth, Pyramind = man = father.

    common now..i know its hard to grasp, but we live inside the earth. if you’re a christian and believe in “space” then make a reservation for hell, cuz its lucifers deception.

  23. Emilia
    World
    May 13, 4:41 pm

    There are so many historical inaccuracies in these comments it’s frightening. First and foremost: Jesus Christ was a real person – whether or not he was the son of God is inconsequential. Julius Caesar and Caesarion were long dead before Jesus was born. Also the Budda was born centuries after the foundation of Christianity. And also the Egyptians were never monotheistic. Yes at one point they only worshipped one god, but they still accepted e possibility of others (this is henotheism).

  24. Daniel Wayne Monteath
    New Zealand
    May 20, 7:29 am

    Good Work Emilia.

    I believe all you have said to be historically accurate,

    I do however agree with the other notion as well that perhaps some dates are inaccurate and that history is also written and adapted by the victors. What we read of history is sometimes inconsistent and accounts vary from person to person. We also know that things can be mistranslated and therefore, become inaccurate. We are now also well aware of propaganda and that often historical literature supports the ideals of the benefactor (perhaps the Emperor that is commissioning the work?)

    For this reason, I do give people a chance to convince me of their argument (though most people on here haven’t given much thought to their comments).

    What people are falling into the trap of thinking is that:

    Because Cleopatra attached herself to the idea of a Holy Trinity then her son must be Jesus as Jesus is also part of a Holy Trinity – HOWEVER – it is most likely that Jesus did not place himself in a Holy Trinity and was more likely to be put in this by the Church that formed in his wake. Therefore, it is an appropriation of the Egyptian idea, an adaptation which should not be taken literally.

    It’s like saying, Jesus must be Hercules because Hercules was also resurrected from death. It’s more likely to be the case that over time, certain ideas have attached themselves to different people due to embellishments used in the story telling. Before the Bible, perhaps people retold the story of Jesus in a similar fashion to Homer’s ‘Odyssey’. Perhaps a Father would steal some nice superhero cliches to spice up the story and make it more interesting for his sons who were eagerly listening. One thing is for sure, we know that Jesus has become THEE biggest superhero (demi-god) to have ever lived, so of course he is going to absorb a lot of heroic and grand attributes that he may not even necessarily have had, I can imagine a man who was considering the idea of self-sacrificing himself for the greater good to be also quite vulnerable, not always 100% sure that he is doing the right thing and I’m sure, at times, responsible for the pain and suffering his followers were privy to as a consequence of going against the oppressive Roman regime. Though we do tend to focus on Jesus “who could do no wrong” character rather than the Jesus who was human and who “made mistakes and felt fears and emotions, just like the rest of us” character.

    It could be possible that rumours were spreading around the Mediterranean of Caesarian as being the Son of God (Osiris) who would eventually inherit the earth (Rome in the North and Egypt in the South) and somehow that morphed with the idea of Jesus being the Son of God (Yahweh) and that maybe Yahweh and Osiris are just different interpretations of the same god anyway. To be honest it doesn’t even really matter all that much to me, because I think we are all sons and daughters of God and it’s no big deal ;0)

    Just what symbols, words and metaphors Jesus used to describe himself and what symbols, words and ideas have been given to him will always be unclear. Perhaps all he has left us with are clues hidden all around us that we just need to psychically decipher. :o) Most likely, the best advice he would give us is to just meditate and be happy with what we’ve got – his Buddhist messages were wasted on the Roman’s. They really wanted world domination. It’s like telling Americans to stop being the worlds biggest consumers and turn to a life of Buddhism. It would go down like a cup of cold sick.

    If anyone started getting Americans to reject their consumer culture, that person would be a hot target for all the people making a shit tonne of money off of their lifestyle.

    The End,

  25. KYSNNNA
    May 21, 12:56 am

    I really admire the ARLES BUST OF CAESAR, So realistic. BACK THEN, IT WAS VERY DIVERSE. ROMAN WAS NOT ETHNICITY…. EVERYONE IN THE ROMAN REPUBLIC LOOKED LIKE TODAY MANY BLACKS TOO YES. Conquered people also were given Roman citizenship. TODAY Roman is someone who embraces the culture, born there, doesn’t matter at all your ethnicity. Like Americans who put ethnicity to your identity so much, most of the world does not they go by class and your nationality. Well same in the ancient days, it was diverse believe it or not. EVEN SOME BLACK EMPERORS. IT WAS DIVERSE AND NO ONE LOOKED A LIKE. HE HAD PIERCING EYES, THIS DEFINITELY LOOKS LIKE CAESAR TO ME. THE ROMANS LIKED TO IDEALIZE BEAUTY….SO STATUES DIDN’T ALWAYS PORTRAY THEM EXACTLY. WHY YOU THINK AUGUSTUS HAD HIS PORTRAIT CHANGED TO LOWER HIS BROWS LIKE CAESAR… SAME WITH CLEOPATRA. HER COIN WAS PROPAGANDA, A WAY TO SHOW PEOPLE SHE COULD LEAD! SHE WAS HALF BLACK AS HER SISTER WAS BLACK AND GREEK, SHE WAS MOST LIKELY BLACK AND GREEK. EGYPTIANS THEN WERE BLACK YES… AND SOME TIMES SLAVES HAD BABIES WITH ROYALTY. HER MOTHER IS UNKNOWN AND REMEMBER HER FAMILY LIVED IN EGYPT FOR YEARS! SHE WAS OF PETITE STATURE FOR SURE THERE’S REFERENCES TO IT. THIS REALLY LOOKS LIKE CAESAR TO ME AND PEOPLE SHOULD QUIT ACTING FAKE AND IDEALIZING HIM, HE WAS HUMAN AND A REAL MAN. A breathing real person. East was considered feminine, mysterious, west, masculine, forward. Keep in mind MANY Statues of virgin mary also were influenced by much more older statues in the Egyptian culture if you seek ISIS the goddess in Egypt. many religions are influenced by older beliefs such as was in Egypt. ISIS did have a divine son. It
    s okay to have your own personal faith just keep an open mind to everything too

  26. jesus,eosus,isu,yeezu,isa,isis,ceasarion,kingofkings,sonofgod
    multiearth
    May 25, 4:44 am

    before you comment watch RING OF POWER on youtube then do some research yourself on the roman historian guy Plutarch, the other russian guy Nicolas Notovitch, look them up… obviously you want to re-freshen your Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra story, with of course your Holy Bible close by to do some quick reference checks… yes Cleopatra was Egyptian-Greek and yes Jesus is a Greek name, funny being that he is from Nazareth hanging around Peter, John, Paul, Mary, Joseph and all these English people he recruited from England (bet King James had something to do with that) lol.. with absolutely no language barrier lol… and yes Ceasarion was born 47.B.C and Jesus I assume 0.B.C (beforechrist) and died 0.A.D.(afterdeath) someone help me do the math on this one.. it seems 33yrs are missing within our calendar.. maybe all these dumb people cant figure out the leap year every four years lets send them an email to remind them, oops we don’t have internet yet, No maybe all these dumb people cant figure out that time goes back in the fall and forward an hour in the spring… that would create a global time issue for sure.. so we have the death of the Pharaohs, we have the death of an emperor and we have the START of a new calendar and new religion ALL AROUND THE SAME TIME, DOES anyone, ANYONE see anything wrong with that picture, can we think with any logical sense nowadays…

    anyhow why does jesus appear in certain drawings or depictions to either be wealthy with a crown and or wearing regular clothes as a carpenter.. wait a minute those 3kings just blessed him with luxurious gifts when they followed the star.. star of ceasar.. umm was that the name of the star… anyway, Julius Ceasar was declared a God, so that would make Ceasarion the son of God heir to an Emperor, and the King of Kings in Egypt from Cleopatra, wow, what a BAD mofo… anyhow watch RING OF POWER, unbrainwash yourselves… and for all these black people, goodness, do you think your ancestors were Christians before they were brought to the USA.. most Christians were force to be Christians, if not off with your head in the name of Jesus… GOD is too supreme to waste his/her time to trick us into this and that and divide us into this and that.. and like the other person said earlier in the Thread, we are all GODs children… GODISGREAT

    eventhedollarbillhasegyptianpyramidandromanletters

    ginobrix@gmail.com

  27. Melissa Rodd
    May 26, 12:14 am

    Daniel your comment I agree with 100 percent. Very well put! I’ve been trying to add something to your line of thought because it really is the way I believe all Christians should interpret the fantastical things written in the Bible years, decades and even centuries after Jesus died. One thing I will add is that so many Christians are scared out of their minds that they will rot in hell if they entertain the thought that perhaps the Bible itself has been tinkered with or shouldn’t be taken 100 percent literally. I consider myself a Christian but I get into so many arguments with people who look at me like I’m Satan incarnate when I tell them that it is possible Jesus Christ had two living, breathing parents. The Bible is full of passages that imply that everything used by man to control other men is a lie and everything inherent or immutable is of Him. Restoring sight to the blind is taken literally by these people who will even resort to unChristian attacks on myself and my alternate view that the blind people spoke about in the Bible are actually those like them who are deceived by man..to me the miracle of curing the blind is that Jesus (the truth) opens peoples’ eyes to the deception caused by one’s own human, sinful nature. I could ramble all day about the inflexible people who are too scared to use the magnifying glass of truth to shed light on the lies that come with manmade language and complex systems of thought control. But my point is I feel sorry for Christians who are tunnel vision rigid and not open with others’ alternate views… because the real truth is only seen when one can look past their own cognitive dissonance and manmade fear and embrace where the holy spirit will take them.