Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

“As always, an educated woman was a dangerous woman.” 
 I picked this book going in because it was a fairly straightforward historical account, not one of those silly romantic non-fiction books that read like fiction. I listened to all 13+ hours and was hooked. I've never watched the movies, never cared for Elizabeth Taylor, so I went into this with very little knowledge of the Queen of Egypt. 

Unfortunately, history is written by the winners and Cleopatra was a loser in the sense that Rome won and took over Egypt and she committed suicide. Naturally, being a woman, she was stripped down to her sexuality instead of commended for her intelligence. Good to know that things haven't changed really since then. (/sarcasm)

Cleopatra wed twice, both times to brothers (incest wasn't even a known word then), had a child with Julius Caesar and then had three more children with Mark Antony. Antony proved to be her undoing in the world, as she proved to be his as well. What is written about Cleopatra is scarce and probably not to be believed (written by the winners, remember?). But we can deduce that she was an intelligent ruler who was beloved by her countrymen. It was in her blood to be murderous, but it seemed to be in everyone's blood back then so she can't be faulted for that. 

Schiff clearly loves the subject of Cleopatra and this was an engrossing book on history that people pretty much have forgotten. 

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