In the rich tradition of a Cecil B. DeMille epic, Cleopatra is a four-hour miniseries filled with pageantry and spectacle. Set against the pyramids of Egypt and the colossal columns of Rome, Cleopatra is the classic tale of the young Queen of the Nile.
A woman of beauty, intelligence and exotic mystery, Cleopatra sets out to claim her throne as the rightful ruler of Egypt, flanked by her portly chief councilor, Mardian; her physician, Olympos; her wardrobe mistress, Charmian; and her servant, Iris. Burdened by Egypt's debt to Rome and the betrayal of her brother, Ptolemy, and sister, Arsinoe, Cleopatra seeks assistance from the Roman Emperor, Caesar. Although married to a Roman woman named Calpurnia, Caesar proclaims his love for Cleopatra and spends time in Egypt romancing her. He shares with her his ambition to extend Rome's reach into greater territories and teaches the inexperienced Queen to rule her citizens with compassion.
While in Egypt, Caesar receives an urgent message from fellow countryman, Marc Antony, that the Roman Senate, instigated by Brutus, believes he has lost interest in the affairs of the Roman Republic. Caesar returns to Rome, leaving behind his trusted officer, Rufio, to watch over Cleopatra. When Cleopatra gives birth to Caesar's only child, Ptolemy Caesar, she is certain that Caesar will accept him and protect him as heir to the Egyptian throne. To prove his love for Cleopatra, Caesar claims his son and in the process, makes several enemies, including his nephew, Octavius. Brutus, Casca and Cassius conspire to assassinate Caesar and succeed when Cassius plunges a dagger into Caesar's back. Cleopatra is devastated, but she focuses on protecting her son, her throne and her country. Realizing that Antony is the only Roman she can trust, Cleopatra seduces him and he becomes infatuated with her.
As co-consul of Rome along with Octavius, Antony agrees to marry Octavius's sister, Octavia, to show his loyalty to Rome. Cleopatra feels betrayed by yet another Roman, so she seeks guidance from the divine. Believing she is an incarnation of the immortal goddess, Isis, Cleopatra is led to the inner sanctum of the temple by a priest named Nakt. She is assisted by a blind Egyptian wise man who tells her that the sacred cobras will serve her well in her time of need. Feeling empowered by her divine source, Cleopatra wins Antony over. They marry in an Egyptian ceremony, where Antony denounces his Roman wife and names Cleopatra's son, Ptolemy, true heir to the Egyptian throne. Octavius, with full support of the Roman army, marches into Egypt to kill Antony, capture Cleopatra and take the throne. Cleopatra and Antony mount a defense, but are forced to retreat by Octavius's numerous army legions.
In the midst of battle, Antony is mortally wounded. Cleopatra takes her dying lover into her tomb and prepares herself for death as Octavius invades Egypt. Draped in a gold funeral gown and wearing her ceremonial cobra headdress, Cleopatra welcomes a gentle poisonous bite into her arm from the sacred cobra. Roman armies, led by Octavius, burst through the doors of the mausoleum to find the Queen of Egypt peacefully lying in state, with the body of Antony beside her. Even in death, Cleopatra commands respect and is a vision of godly beauty.