Review: Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

I borrowed this book from the Erie County Public Library as an audio book to make my drive from Iowa home more pleasant. Cleopatra was an interesting lady. She was Queen of Egypt and managed to ensnare two of the most powerful men of her time in long term relationships that produced offspring so it seemed like a good choice. I didn’t realize how little I actually knew about Cleopatra. Like, how efficient she was as Queen. There were apparently no revolts against her. A notoriously lively populous seemed perfectly happy with her and mourned her death. Egyptian women at the time of Cleopatra enjoyed much more freedom than women of other civilizations. It wasn’t strange that she was Queen to the population. (Although, to be fair, her son was her official royal consort who ruled alongside her for much of her reign and before he son two of her brothers had the job.) Additionally, amongst her subjects women could own property and divorce.

Prior to listening to this book, I pretty much thought of Cleopatra as the woman who seduced Julius Caesar and then Marc Antony. But, it would seem she was an excellent statesmen, a polyglot, a political animal who made was great plays and some terrific blunders. It’s pretty thrilling to know that this woman who has historically this reputation as a temptress and a whore was so much more than that. Just another reminder that you can’t always trust the official historical account.

This was an enjoyable book.

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