Zota was a powerful sorcerer who was attracted to Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt. Around 37 B.C. he overthrew her lover Marc Antony in the hopes of having her for himself, but she spurned him. As punishment, he placed her into a trance and sent her over 2,000 years into the future. She was found by Dr. Strange, who traveled back to the past to stop Zota. Sensing Strange's imminent arrival, Zota prepared a trap for him. He imprisoned Dr. Strange within a mystical field created by beams of light, but Dr. Strange summoned up smoke to cover the light, breaking the field. Zota tried to match spells against Strange, but had already spent so much energy creating the field that he was easily beaten, and Dr. Strange entranced him with his amulet. After learning how to free Cleopatra, Strange removed Zota's knowledge of sorcery from his mind, and then returned to his own time, where he removed the enchantment from Cleopatra and sent her back to ancient Egypt.
Via time-travel, Strange fought Zota ten years before their first meeting, stopping him from claiming the Library of Alexandria's Scroll of the Vishanti.