A unique subject, a beautiful book
I have been raving about this for a least a year, but I figured I would write it down here for good measure. I read this last winter, and I have this amazing memory of a cold winters evening, leaning on my couch, listening to the B side of the second record of Joanna Newsom’s superb “Have one on me” and reading this book about Cleopatra.
Now yes, perhaps she is in herself an almost iconic cliche due to her fame, references and re-inventions. But put that aside and take a look at this book.
For those who don’t know me well, I am a history buff, and am specifically interested in classic history. And a big fan of the series Rome to boot! I really appreciated their portrayal of the last egyptian pharaoh even if the series has some serious historic inaccuracies.
This book definitely clears a lot of that up, and Susan Shiffs description of Alexandria in the first century BC is great. But obviously the main focus of the book, as its title suggests, is the mighty lady herself. Brilliant and cunning, she seems to have had excessive dignity and poise, but more so in life than in death. Her iconic image as passed down the centuries often takes the form of (in the worst case) whore queen, or (in the best) roman concubine. It reveals the age old, and still virulent, fear of women in power. As a result, we have the myth of cleopatra as malicious promiscuous destroyer of men and empires.
The book provides us with a little look behind the curtain of that myth.
Take a read, let me know!