Cleopatra

She ruled one of the largest empires in the world. She was richer than Queen Elizabeth II. Two of the most powerful and charismatic Roman leaders of her time, Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, loved her. She murdered her own brother. She lived in city where women had more rights than in any other in the ancient world. We speak her name today: Cleopatra.

 
Cleopatra is one of the best known figures in history — man or woman — and yet we know so little about her. According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Shiff, much of we think we know about the lady is not true; starting with fact that she was not even an Egyptian, but a Macedonian Greek.
 
Shiff’s new book Cleopatra: A Life is remarkably readable, as she debunks common myths about the Egypt’s last pharaoh. She paints a picture of the lush and decadent life at Cleopatra’s court. She recounts the history of the high-living, but murderous Ptolemys.
 
Shiff tells Cleopatra’s story by quoting from the three most prominent ancient historians, Plutarch, Cassius Dio, and Cicero as well as other major ancient historians. She notes when they could have been misinformed, wrong, or just plain prejudiced. 
 
Shiff attempts to sift fact from fiction from the works of ancient historians to set the record straight about the Queen of the Nile. Her Cleopatra is small and exotic – but not beautiful. The queen Shiff describes is extremely clever and seductive. Cleopatra died before she was 40, having ruled one of the largest and most advanced empires of the ancient world for 21 years.
 
For years business men have read the Samurai manual The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Many women have now taken up the practice. Perhaps it is time to time study Cleopatra, a woman who had the world at her feet, commanded armies, fought naval battles, and is still remembered today.
 
Stacy Schiff’s book is by no means the final word among academics. Modern historians have already started to take issue with the details of her oeuvre, but it is a fascinating read for any educated woman today.
 
This would make a great gift for any lady of letters on your holiday list his year.
Share