Thursday, January 31, 2008

Book of the week: Cleopatra VII

Book of the Week is a serialized reading of Joyce Tyldesley's Cleopatra. The book takes issue with almost everything that is attached to her, from her reported beauty and powers of seduction to her motives and abilities. Indeed, Joyce says in order to understand the real Cleopatra, we must disregard everything we know about her, beginning with that alleged promiscuity.

"Who she wasn’t was this glamorous seductress that film-makers seem to like so much. There’s no evidence that she had more than two sexual partners - Julius Caesar, who she was faithful to until he died, and Mark Antony - but I think we like to see her that way – there’s something appealing about it, but it’s most unfair."

"She was a very clever woman. She ruled for over 20 years and managed to delay the Romans taking over Egypt, which was something that was threatening throughout her reign. Plus, she took over a country from her father that was fairly poor and strengthened the economy so that when she died, Egypt was in a good position."

She considers whether Cleopatra could be a Black Greek.

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