Cleopatra is remembered as a seductress and man-eater. What she SHOULD be remembered as is a patriot and loving mother. From the evidence, Cleopatra’s main goals were to keep her kids safe and keep Egypt independent of Roman control. She seems to have genuinely fallen in love with Mark Antony near the end of her reign, but even he was displaced by her drive to protect her children from the all-too-deadly real politick of the Mediterranean.
Tragically, only one of Cleopatra’s children survived until adulthood. Her oldest son was betrayed by his tutor and murdered by the Roman Empire. Cleopatra’s younger sons by Mark Antony ‘mysteriously’ did not survive their childhood in Rome. Only her daughter, Cleopatra Selene (who was coincidently no threat to Caesar Augustus), made it out of childhood. The sole blessing is that Cleopatra died without knowing their fate, and was spared that grief.
Very little is known about Selene. She married Juba II of Numidia, a satellite ruler for the Roman Empire. They moved to Mauretania ( located in modern day Morocco & Spain) and ruled it well, creating a strong trading state with access to significant wealth. Juba and Selene encouraged art, science, and literature, as well as economic growth, and under their auspices the region thrived. They had two children, a son named Ptolemy and a daughter whose name is unknown. Some people think she was Drusilla of Mauretania, but Drusilla was actually Ptolemy’s daughter, and thus Juba and Selene’s granddaughter.
Their son, Ptolemy of Mauretania, also ruled well. He was so successful, in fact, that he was summoned to Rome to be “honored” by Caligula, who took the opportunity to murder him out of jealous spite. The Roman’s took Ptolemy’s daughter to be raised in Rome. Eventually, Claudius married Drusilla to Marcus Antonius Felix, the governor of Judea, who divorced her and remarried ANOTHER woman named Drusilla, just to confuse historians.
Drusilla, with the resilience of her great-grandmother Cleopatra, shook off the divorce and married Sohaemus, the king of Emesa. The kingdom of Emesa was in the Roman province of Syria and overlapped into modern-day Armenia. Sohaemus was a priest-king, in that he also functioned as the head of the Emesani worship of the sun god El-Gebal (Elagabalus). Drusilla gave Sohaemus at least one son, Gaius Julius Alexio, who styled himself Alexio II after he inherited the throne.
Alexio II had a son called Gaius Julius Fabia Sampsiceramus III Silas, who in turn left his throne to his son Gaius Julius Longinus Soaemus and sired the Emesene high priest Gaius Julius Bassianus. The historical record of Soaemus and Bassianus are too sketchy to know for sure what happened to Cleopatra’s descendants after their generation, although the Roman empress Julia Domna and Syrian queen Zenobia of Palmyra were both theoretically descended from the Emesni royal family.
Any descendants from Selene through her daughter is completely unknown of course, since we don’t even have her name — let alone the information she survived childhood and got married.
For myself, I hope that Cleopatra’s DNA is still floating in the gene pool somewhere. A woman who fought so hard for her children is the kind of woman I want in the ancestral human genome.
If you want the more details about Cleopatra’s remarkable ferocity as a ruler and a parent, you can read about her in my book The Jezebel Effect.