- I’ve always been interested in Cleopatra and, in addition, there’s just something about ancient Egypt that excites me.
Summary from GoodReads:
Her life spanned fewer than 40 years, but she was the last Egyptian pharaoh and one of the most influential women of the age. She married twice, each time to a brother; she poisoned one and waged a war against the other. To this day, the life of Cleopatra VII (69-30 B.C.) intrigues us. This adept biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff tells us why it should. The true story of the woman behind the myth.
I think if I were given the opportunity to go to a place anytime in history, to view it through modern eyes, to study it for a set period of time, ancient Egypt would be a place high on my list.
I’ve always been fascinated by strong women in history and Cleopatra ranks high. She was a woman who showed incredible strength in the face of a brutal world of politics, intrigue and murder. She survived despite a bloody family history of murders committed by mothers, fathers, uncles and siblings. She loved her country, so much she was willing to do what was necessary to keep it and the luxuries it afforded her. She was flamboyantly generous, but also tough in the face of adversary (as her interactions with Herod shows).
It’s been a while since I read a non-fiction book as dense as Cleopatra is. I had hoped, in a way, to open this book and be immersed in a world told in a storytelling manner, but had to quickly adapt – because that’s not what this is. This book is a heavily sourced book filled with information – not just about Cleopatra but events surrounding her, information on the lifestyle of the time period so that the gaps around Cleopatra could be filled in. This was a look at Cleopatra through the eyes of a woman who believed her to be more than “the wickedest woman” in the world. Stacy Schiff paints Cleopatra as a sensual, intelligent woman who knew numerous languages and was shrewd enough to know when to pursue a man and when to back off.
I took my time reading this one. The information overload was too much to hurry through it all and I have to say, now that it’s said and done, I really appreciated the time given and the depth of the book. It’s a worthwhile read and one I intend to read again (although in smaller doses over a longer period of time, I think).
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