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Cleopatra indeed played a pivotal role in the last phase of the Roman Civil Wars. Still, in the final analysis, she was as much a “player” with her own agency as Mark Antony or Octavian. Perhaps one of the more fascinating and controversial aspects of Cleopatra’s life is her death. After Cleopatra’s and Mark Antony’s forces lost to Octavian at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, the pair had few options. Mark Antony took his life in true Roman fashion by stabbing himself with his gladius, while Cleopatra was said to have either died from the bite of a venomous snake or some other type of poison. An examination of the classical sources combined with more recent studies indicates that Cleopatra more than likely did die from a venomous snake bite.
[[File: Pompey’sPillarII.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|Pompey’s Pillar in Alexandria]]
After the Macedonian general and conqueror Alexander III “the Great” died in 323 BC, his generals divided the spoils of the former Achaemenid Persian Empire. While the generals, known as the <i>Diadochi</i>, were fighting for control of Greece and Anatolia, Ptolemy I (ruled 305-282 BC) quietly became the king of Egypt. After he defeated another Macedonian general named Perdiccas for possession of Alexander’s body and control of Egypt, he was no longer threatened by his kinsmen and was able to start a new dynasty in Egypt comprised entirely of Macedonian Greeks. <ref> Bowman, Alan K. <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520205316/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0520205316&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=3652d49207aeab2b3aaed7a4b330fb4 Egypt after the Pharaohs: 332 BC-AD 642 from Alexander to the Arab Conquest].</i> (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996), p. 22</ref>