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Cleopatra: A Biography

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While her palace shimmered with gold, it was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and ingenious negotiator. Her life spanned fewer than 40 years but would reshape the contours of the ancient world.

She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex only with two men. They happened however to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a son with Caesar. After his murder, she had three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way the supple personality has been lost. In a masterful return to the original sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction, to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order, a generation before the birth of Christ. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.
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While her palace shimmered with gold, it was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and ingenious negotiator. Her life spanned fewer than 40 years but would reshape the contours of the ancient world.

She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex only with two men. They happened however to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a son with Caesar. After his murder, she had three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way the supple personality has been lost. In a masterful return to the original sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction, to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order, a generation before the birth of Christ. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.

Additional Info

Author Stacy Schiff
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Place New York
Year 2010
ISBN 9780316001922
Binding Hardcover
Condition Very Good
Dustjacket Condition Good

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