About this artwork
Cleopatra (69–30 BCE) was queen of Egypt when the Roman Empire was gradually expanding into the wealthy eastern Mediterranean. By allying herself first with the powerful Roman generals Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) and then Mark Antony (83–30 BCE), she hoped to maintain her country’s independence and her own authority. The political alliance between Antony and Cleopatra worried Caesar’s heir, Octavian, who, in 31 BCE, defeated the couple in a sea battle. Rather than suffer the humiliation of surrender, Cleopatra and Antony killed themselves.
This coin was minted during Antony and Cleopatra’s alliance. By pairing their faces on coinage, the rulers advertised their powerful partnership, which was so strong that Cleopatra’s profile is an exact copy of Antony’s portrait. Cleopatra’s image appears on the front of the coin, which identifies her as the more important of the two rulers. A crown circling her carefully braided hair symbolizes her status as a queen.
- Ancient Roman
- Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Queen Cleopatra VII
- Struck 37 BCE–33 BCE
- Diam. 2.6 cm (1 1/16 in.), 15.22 g
- Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund