Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt for about 300 years before Cleopatra and her 10 year old brother Ptolemy XIII took over the throne of Egypt in 51 BC. Contrary to popular belief, historians now believe the family was of Greek descent, rather than Egyptian. Amazingly, Cleopatra is thought to be the only person in her family to learn the Egyptian language, one of more than 7 languages that she learned in her life.
Partly because Cleopatra was much older than her brother when they took the throne, she quickly became the more dominant ruler and he became jealous of her, and soon she was banished from the country by her jealous brother. Eventually, she returned to power in Egypt with the help of Roman allies, although her relationship with Rome would eventually be her undoing. Cleopatra was captured by a Roman army and sentenced to spend the rest of her life as a slave, but she chose to take her own life instead at the age of 39.