More than 1,500 years before the reign of Elizabeth I of England, Cleopatra proved that women were capable of ruling nations, and that they could do it with intelligence, grace, and sometimes brutality. Here’s what you probably didn’t know about her.

Cleopatra wasn't Egyptian

While most people associate her with ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was actually a member of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which was descended from Alexander the Great's general, Ptolemy I. That means they not only had Greek ancestry, they spoke Greek and followed Greek customs, too. The Ptolemys ruled Egypt for 300 years after the nation was handed over to Ptolemy I following the death of Alexander, who had conquered the nation, in 323 BC.

She was smarter than she was beautiful

Cleopatra was a student of mathematics, medicine, alchemy, economics, history, geography, and pretty much every general education subject. She also spoke nine languages; native tongue of the Ptolemaic dynasty and the languages of most neighboring people, including the Arabs, Jews, Parthians, Syrians, Ethiopians, Medes, and the Trogodytae.

Her famous eye make-up was actually supposed to ward off eye infections

Cleopatra’s trademark eye make-up – a black kohl that lined the eyes and sometimes continued down the side of the face to form decorative spirals – had less to do with beauty. The kohl was made from four different lead-based materials that were toxic to bacteria and was actually meant not as a beauty enhancer but to ward off eye infections.

She owned a perfume factory

Cleopatra believed in the power of fragrance not just as a cosmetic but also as a tool of persuasion. She owned a perfume factory. The ruins of Cleopatra's perfume factory are by the Dead Sea near Ein Gedi, and there is evidence that it also operated as a sort of day spa.