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An Ancient Crime Scandal: Who Killed Cleopatra's Sister?

Updated on March 10, 2013
GarnetBird profile image

Gloria taught for many years, and also worked as a mental health group facilitator.

The reconstructed face of Arsinoe, half sister of Queen Cleopatra. Courtesy/Discovery channel.
The reconstructed face of Arsinoe, half sister of Queen Cleopatra. Courtesy/Discovery channel.
The Temple of Artemis as it must have looked in 41 BC.
The Temple of Artemis as it must have looked in 41 BC.
The same site of the Temple today, surrounded by rubble.
The same site of the Temple today, surrounded by rubble.
I painted this for fun...was this how she might have appeared?
I painted this for fun...was this how she might have appeared?

By Gloria Siess {"Garnetbird"}

For those of you who find Egyptian Politics fascinating, the story of Arsinoe will be especially intriguing, When the Father of Cleopatra died, it left three siblings competing for the throne. Many realize that her brother Ptolemy was poisoned--but few know the tragic story of Arsinoe, Cleopatra's younger half-sister. With the arrival of the Mighty Julius Ceasar, Arsinoe was forced to flee Egypt with her faction. Ceasar won, of course, and escorted the younger sister through the streets of Rome as a War Trophy.

The people of Rome had compassion--Arsinoe was barely 13 years old, and probably reminded them of their own daughters at home. Instead of executing her for rebellion, she was sent to an amazing place of safety and refuge called The Artemesian, or Temple of Artemis.There, in a marble palace which faced the sea, she could live in regal loneliness, safe from the grasp of her powerful sister. In fact, the Temple of Artemis was known to be a safe place for those seeking asylum from political enemies. It was listed as one of the seven wonders of the world, and far from being a shabby destination point.

After the Murder of Ceasar during the "Ides of March," things changed. Mark Anthony became Roman Governor of, among other things, Ephesus, where the temple was located. In need of money to finance his war compaigns and lavish partying, he turned to Cleopatra for help. Possibly to his surprise, she demanded the death of her sister Arsinoe IV as part of the bargain. (Mark Anthony was a seasoned military man and probably got no joy from ordering the execution of a teenage girl. We do not know how she was killed, simply that her death was sudden).

In 41 BC this murder shocked Rome deeply. It was unheard of to enter the Artemesian without express permission, let alone bash your way in to commit some evil-doing. The very sacredness of the Temple of Artemis had been affronted, as well as the sensibilities of Rome. Arsinoe was very young, and seemed scarely a threat to anyone, let alone the Great Cleopatra. Yet Mark Anthony had ordered her murder in the very temple where she lived with her back against the sea.

Archaeologists uncovered what they strongly feel to be the tomb of Arsinoe. With the help of expert Forensic reconstruction from parts of her skull,. they have shown us the face of a Ptolemy. Eleven years after this murder, Anthony and Cleopatra would commit suicide after losing a crucial battle to Octavian of Rome.

Today the Temple of Artemis is a wind-blown, rubble against dry grass..only the stars know what greatness it used to display, and what tragedies it came to know.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Going to put this arcltie to good use now.

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      6 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you for your comment..I enjoyed it..

    • profile image

      Dr. Virinder Singh 

      6 years ago

      Look at the contrast. Antony the rabble raiser lamenting the assassination of Julius Caesar and brutal killer of Arisonae to prove love for wayward Cleopatra .A rare hypocrite and opportunist to extreme .Romans got the leaders they deserved.These were the Jewels in the crown of Rome.

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      7 years ago from The English Midlands

      I love history and find Egyptian history especially intriguing. I am surprised that I didn't know this story. Thank you for illuminating me :)

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Oh, THANK you-I need some encouragement as I mostly write now; I'm trying to paint again!

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      8 years ago from NW Indiana

      I think it is great to get carried away, being an rules...bravo!

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thanks for reading--yes, the make-up is a bit Max Factor, isn't it? Ha.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting, although I have to wonder why the reconstruction of her face is shown with metallic pink lipstick and what looks like smokey eyes? A lady truly ahead of her times then haha, or the artists got a little carried away.

      Also, she was supposed to be about 6'4 based on the body they used, which is kinda just a little bit tall for the people of that time, you would think, not to mention a woman.Wen I saw that on the history channel, it made me question whether the body was indeed Arsinoe's. But, hey, it certainly doesn't rule it out. Interesting anyway.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Awesome story and a walk through history, a talented writer has done it again...

      Blessings and Hugs

    • _cheryl_ profile image


      8 years ago from California

      The Egyptian era has always intrigued me. What a great revealing story. I had no idea that she had a sister. How sad that her life was taken the way it was. Great educational hub GarnetBird!

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Oh, thank you. I felt her story to be really tragic. Hollywood has glamorized Cleopatra; she was really a brilliant political murderer.(Like many men!)

    • valeriebelew profile image


      8 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Whew, what a violent group. This was ineresting, as I did not know Cleo had a sister. Cleo sounds like a manipulating mean spirited bitch, and Mark, as we already know, was an opportunist. Sad that the little sister had to be sacrificed to appease Cleo's competitive nature. Good work!


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