Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World

( 18 )

Overview

On A Stiflingly Hot Day In August, 30 BC, the thirty-nine-year-old queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, took her own life rather than be paraded in chains through Rome by her conqueror, Octavian—the future first emperor, Augustus. A few days earlier, her lover of eleven years, Mark Antony, had himself committed suicide and died in her arms. Oceans of mythology have grown around them, all of which Diana Preston explores in her stirring history of the lives and times of a couple whose names—more than two millennia ...

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Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World

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Overview

On A Stiflingly Hot Day In August, 30 BC, the thirty-nine-year-old queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, took her own life rather than be paraded in chains through Rome by her conqueror, Octavian—the future first emperor, Augustus. A few days earlier, her lover of eleven years, Mark Antony, had himself committed suicide and died in her arms. Oceans of mythology have grown around them, all of which Diana Preston explores in her stirring history of the lives and times of a couple whose names—more than two millennia later—still invoke passion, curiosity, and intrigue.

Preston views the drama and romance of Cleopatra and Antony's personal lives—and Cleopatra's previous lengthy affair with Julius Caesar that linked the might of Egypt with that of Rome—as part of the great military and political struggle that culminated in the full-fledged rise of the Roman Empire. With the keen eye for detail and abundant insight that have won her awards for previous books, Preston sheds new light on a vitally important period in Western history.

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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
On the evidence of Cleopatra and Antony, I'd say [Preston's] a thoroughgoing pro. Her research is careful and deep; her prose is lively and graceful; her sympathy for her central character is strong but wholly without sentimentality; her depiction of the worlds in which Cleopatra lived is detailed, textured and evocative. If there is a better book about Cleopatra for today's reader, I don't know what it is.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Going beyond the charisma and romance of two of history's greatest lovers, L.A. TimesBook Prize-winner Preston (Before the Fallow) vividly puts their lives in the larger political context of their times. Preston explodes the legends, saying Cleopatra was less a seductress than a politically shrewd ruler, and Antony was not a hotheaded megalomaniac. Preston chronicles Cleopatra's life from her royal upbringing to her marriage to the new Roman emperor Julius Caesar, motivated, says Preston, by political ambition. After Caesar's murder, according to Preston, Cleopatra was wise to join political and sexual forces with Antony, who won favor in her eyes for rebelling against Octavian. For his part, Antony remained loyal to Cleopatra, viewing her as a partner with whom he could rule the Roman Empire. Although the tales Preston rehearses are familiar ones, she provides a rich context and speculates that if Antony and Cleopatra had defeated Octavian, then Cleopatra might have ruled in Judea more benignly than Herod. Her reception of Jesus of Nazareth might have been very different than Herod's, and history itself might have been altered. 30 b&w illus., one map. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Touting Cleopatra and Anthony as the original celebrity couple, Preston (Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima) weaves their romance into an explanation of the political environment of one of the most important eras of Western history. Indeed, in her extensive research, Preston seeks to unravel the centuries of myth that shroud the infamous couple to reveal who they were in their own time and society. In what became a game of propaganda and politics against Octavian, Cleopatra was painted as a villainous seductress who led Antony astray rather than a cultured queen who spoke more than seven languages. Preston's convincing narrative claims that had Cleopatra and Antony won the battle of Actium, not only would their personal love story have unfolded less tragically, but the region would have developed with more tolerance-and perhaps a difference outcome for later historical figures, including Jesus-thus rewriting Western history entirely. This very readable work is highly recommended to all history collections, as well as those in gender or women's studies and biography.
—Crystal Goldman

Kirkus Reviews
Historian Preston (Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima, 2005, etc.) casts Cleopatra as the fulcrum of power in the one of the world's first power couples. Before discussing the pivotal first encounter between young Cleopatra and the newly victorious Julius Caesar in Alexandria in 48 BCE, the author wades through a dense bloody history involving the Ptolemy dynasty of Egypt and the civil wars in Rome. Once the highly educated, politically astute, alluring Egyptian queen takes center stage, she commands complete attention. Preston describes her at length, even enlisting a specialist in "archaeosteology" to reconstruct her face. The author notes that Cleopatra was "probably not conventionally beautiful"; her appeal lay in her artfulness, charm, daring and shrewdness, qualities that warlike Caesar and later Antony greatly admired, and rarely saw in women. While Caesar served as her early protector, giving her a "divine heir" in the son Caesarion, Antony helped consolidate the power she needed to stabilize her reign. The two played at being godlike-Cleopatra was Isis incarnate, Antony the "new Dionysus"-and both were sensualists and fond of pomp and spectacle. Their passion for each other was driven by their shared "hunger for life," Preston asserts. Cleopatra skillfully coaxed from Antony territory concessions that nearly restored the empire of the early Ptolemies, and she proved a valuable political ally in the face of threats by Parthia and Octavian. Although Antony was criticized for losing his self-control and dignity by remaining with Cleopatra, Preston emphasizes how each fulfilled the other's "wider strategy." Had they prevailed, they might have co-ruled a vast empire.Preston closes with an analysis of how later mythmaking was particularly unkind to Cleopatra. Preston ably conveys her admiration for the Egyptian queen. Agent: Michael Carlisle/Inkwell Management
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802717382
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Preston is an Oxford-trained historian and the author of A First Rate Tragedy, The Boxer Rebellion, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, and Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima, which won the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology. With her husband, Michael, she has coauthored A Pirate of Exquisite Mind and Taj Mahal. She lives in London, England.

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Read an Excerpt

CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY

Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World
By DIANA PRESTON

Walker & Company

Copyright © 2009 Preston Writing Partnership
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1738-2


Chapter One

Keeping It in the Family

The Egyptians had welcomed the arrival of Cleopatra's distant ancestor Alexander the Great and his Macedonian and Greek army of forty thousand men in 332 BC as liberators and allies. He had successfully ejected the Persians who had overthrown Egypt's final pharaoh and had ever since been thoroughly oppressing the population. The Egyptians did not object when Alexander claimed the right to succeed the pharaohs by being crowned in the Temple of Ptah in the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, near modern-day Cairo. Alexander, in turn, took care to respect and even to sacrifice to the native gods. Before he left Egypt, he founded a new city in the sandy marshlands of the western Nile delta that, with characteristic immodesty, he named Alexandria.

Within a decade, Alexander was dead and a mighty struggle was under way amongst his followers for parts of his empire. The Macedonian general who grabbed Egypt, Ptolemy, was Alexander's food taster as well as his relation. Ptolemy's personal emblem was an eagle, which would become the symbol of the dynasty he founded. He ruled at first as governor but soon awarded himself the kingship of Egypt under thetitle Ptolemy I Soter-meaning "savior." With him came more than a hundred thousand serving or veteran soldiers and large quantities of civilians and their families, to whom he gave lands to farm along the Nile valley and delta. Of all her direct ancestors, he was the ruler whom the last Cleopatra-the seventh Ptolemaic queen to bear that name-probably most admired.

Ptolemy was above all an opportunist. To the annoyance of rivals who would also have liked to possess the prestigious cadaver, Ptolemy I intercepted Alexander's funeral cortege as it was traveling toward Macedonia from Babylon, where he had died, and hijacked his embalmed body, which he interred in Alexandria in a splendid tomb. Here Alexander was worshipped as a god. In his lifetime he had claimed divinity, insisting that his mother, Olympias, had conceived him through sexual intercourse with Zeus in the form of a serpent. As Ptolemy recognized, fostering the cult of the divine Alexander could only add legitimacy to successors and relations. Indeed, succeeding generations of Ptolemies would be buried around the great tomb of Alexander and, just as purple-mantled priests sacrificed to him, the Ptolemies' own priests made offerings to their dead kings and queens.

Ptolemy's greatest rivals were the two other successor dynasties to Alexander's empire, the Antigonids in Macedonia and the Seleucids in Syria and Asia Minor. Though sharing the same Macedonian Greek heritage, their territorial ambitions would clash for centuries with those of Cleopatra's family until Rome finally subdued them all.

Demonstrating prudence and a grasp of detail, Ptolemy thoroughly reorganized the management of Egypt in a way that would last basically unchanged until Cleopatra's time. He moved the capital from Memphis to Alexandria, made Greek the official language of government and fused Macedonian and Egyptian methods of administration. He also introduced what was, in effect, a planned economy to exploit Egypt's abundant natural wealth. Although 90 percent of Egypt was desert, the rich alluvial mud created by the annual flooding in late summer of the Nile valley produced bumper crops of wheat and barley-sown in the autumn and harvested in early summer-making the country the biggest grain producer in the Mediterranean. The land was at its most fertile in the delta, where, as Vergil wrote, "the river that flows all the way from the dark Indies empties through its seven mouths making Egypt green with its black silt." There was a relatively docile workforce to harvest the grain-from the time of the pharaohs the native population living along the Nile in simple mudbrick houses had learned to work hard and live frugally.

Ptolemy soon expanded his territories. To the west he annexed Cyrenaica (eastern Libya), a region long inhabited by Greeks and famous for its ostrich feathers, honey and wool. To the northeast, he invaded southern Syria four times-the region would remain one persistently disputed by the Ptolemies and the rival Seleucids. One of the lures was the port of Gaza, terminus of the great camel caravans from Arabia swaying under their burdens of frankincense, spices and jewels. These lands also gave access to the trade routes from Asia to Tyre and Sidon, to the skilled Phoenician sailors who inhabited those cities and were useful for crewing Egypt's ships, and to timber from Syria's mountains to build them. Egypt, though rich in much else, lacked trees. Ptolemy also seized Cyprus, another valuable source of timber as well as of copper.

His new subjects' manners and customs may have surprised Ptolemy. The Greek Herodotus, the world's first historian and travel writer, writing earlier in the first half of the fifth century BC, had been startled that their way of life ran counter to "the ordinary practices of mankind." In particular, Egyptian women enjoyed far more control over their lives than their Greek counterparts and could even initiate divorce proceedings. Often women were the traders and went to market and some even owned barges from which they made large profits from transporting grain. Conversely, many Egyptian men remained at home undertaking such domestic tasks as weaving. While the men carried burdens on their heads, Egyptian women bore them on their shoulders. Most striking of all to Herodotus, women urinated standing up while men squatted, although both genders performed such acts decorously. People relieved themselves indoors but ate outside since "what is unseemly but necessary should be done in private and what is not unseemly should be done openly."

Herodotus, however, noted one area where women took second place. No female was allowed to hold priestly office. He also concluded that the Egyptians were "the most religious men." Ptolemy too grasped both the deep significance of religion to his new subjects and that it provided a means of winning their allegiance, especially that of the influential shaven-headed, shaven-bodied, white-robed priesthood.

Egyptian religion had no single cohesive theology but was an accumulation of cults derived from legend and myth and governed by ritual with a strong emphasis on the afterlife. The new Ptolemaic rulers were confronted by a bewildering array of animal-headed gods, enigmatic sphinxes and vast quantities of mummified animals, from baboons and bulls to birds, cats and crocodiles, all deliberately killed to allow pilgrims to gain divine grace by participating in the funeral rites of a sacred animal.

Ptolemy participated in the rituals of his new land and, as would his descendants including Cleopatra, restored and embellished the temples of ancient Egypt while building new ones-the massive structures at Philae, Edfu and Dendera owe as much to the Ptolemies as to the pharaohs. However, he went a step further-devising a new god to appeal to all his subjects, Egyptian and Greek, and help create a common bond. With the aid of priests he fashioned Serapis-a fusion of the Egyptian cult of Apis, the sacred bull associated with Osiris, lord of the Kingdom of the Dead, with the Greek god Zeus. The new god was one of healing and of prophecy and was worshipped in a great temple, a "Serapeum" near Memphis. Another Serapeum was built on a hill overlooking Alexandria. Even in Cleopatra's day, a quarter of a millenium later, admiring visitors thought it grander than anything they had seen outside Rome. Its long flight of steps rose to a columned Greek façade faced with marble. The interior was decorated with gold leaf, silver and bronze. Within the dark incense-scented sanctuary, which only the high priest and the king were allowed to enter, the god-whose image was that of a mature bearded human male-sat on his throne with Cerberus, the three-headed dog of the underworld, at his feet. Beneath his elaborate headdress Serapis' piercing, life-like eyes of quartz and rock crystal shone mesmerizingly through the gloom.

Around 283 or 282, the highly successful Ptolemy I died peacefully in his bed-the only one of Alexander's Macedonian generals to do so-at the age of eighty-four. His fair-haired and stocky son, Ptolemy II, found a yet more potent way of implanting the Ptolemies into the psyche of their people. He decided that, like the pharaohs before them, the Ptolemies must become gods. Claiming the title Theoi Soteres, "savior gods," for his deceased parents, he set about turning himself into a deity, establishing the tradition that more than two centuries later would allow Cleopatra the status of a living goddess.

To underline this divinity, Ptolemy II embraced another pharaonic custom-incest. The ancient Egyptians had believed their kings to be the earthly manifestation of the god Osiris, whose consort was his sister Isis, and many pharaohs had married their half sisters. Ptolemy II decided to marry his full sister, Arsinoe-an act for which he later understandably acquired the title Philadelphus, "lover of his sister." He presented himself and his sister-wife to his subjects as the Theoi Adelphoi-divine siblings-and ordered their images to be placed in the inner sanctums of temples, where specially chosen priests tended them. The Greek and Roman world considered sexual relations between brothers and sisters unlawful and immoral but henceforth incest would be an integral custom of the Macedonian Greek house of Ptolemy, underlining their divinity and exclusivity.

This exclusivity was to an extent mirrored within the ruling Macedonian elite, although without the refinement of incest-intermarriage with Egyptians was forbidden in Alexandria and the other "Macedonian" cities of Egypt. However, in the countryside Macedonian settlers quite soon began to intermarry with Egyptians, so as time passed, a family's ethnic origins became hard to disentangle-a situation some Macedonians exploited to claim and enjoy the greater legal rights enjoyed by Egyptian women.

In 273 Ptolemy II initiated Egypt's long and pragmatic association with Rome when he dispatched ambassadors there, charged with delivering gifts and flattering words. Dio Cassius caught the blend of shrewd self-interest on the side of one party and conceit on the other, describing how the Egyptian king, impressed by "the growing power of the Romans, sent them gifts and made an agreement with them. The Romans, flattered that one so far away should have thought so highly of them, sent ambassadors to them in return." It was a good moment to secure Roman friendship. The following year, the Romans took control of the entire Italian peninsula.

The next Ptolemaic king, Ptolemy III Euergetes I, "the Benefactor," invaded and plundered Syria, the core of the rival Seleucid kingdom, and crossed the Euphrates. One account even claims that, following in Alexander's footsteps, his armies reached India. This was the Ptolemies' high point. Their empire was the predominant power in the eastern Mediterranean and their capital sophisticated and rich. However, under Ptolemy III's successors, Egyptian power waned as the royal family became increasingly and introspectively entangled in its own complex and bloody feuds while invaders took most of Egypt's overseas possessions.

In 193, Egypt got her first Queen Cleopatra-the name means "Glory of Her Father"-when the daughter of the Seleucid king of Syria, Antiochus III, married the young Ptolemy V, who had no sister to wed. On her husband's early death, leaving her with two young sons, Cleopatra I ruled as regent. The first Ptolemaic queen to exercise sole power, she proved a strong, effective leader and a role model for her female successors. Most subsequent Ptolemaic queens took her name in tribute to her. After Cleopatra died her two sons ruled in uneasy alliance. Both were, as tradition dictated, named Ptolemy, but the younger was nicknamed Physkon, "Potbelly," because of his wobbling obesity. Taking advantage of Egypt's political fragility, in i68 an emboldened Antiochus IV of Syria marched into Egypt, crowned himself king in Memphis and advanced on Alexandria. For the first but not the last time Egypt invoked the help of Rome, now emerging as the Mediterranean's dominant power.

Rome's relations with Egypt had drawn closer over the years since Ptolemy II had dispatched his silver-tongued ambassadors. Egypt had prudently backed Rome in her wars with Carthage and perhaps even sent a small force of troops to support her. The Romans had certainly felt grateful enough to send thanks to the Ptolemies because, as their chroniclers recorded, "in difficult times when even their closest allies had deserted the Romans, [the Ptolemies] had kept faith." The Romans had also recently formally consulted the Egyptian kings, with their Macedonian roots, before Rome's expansion into Macedonia and Greece-even though the Ptolemies had been entirely powerless to do anything other than acquiesce gracefully. Still conscious of their debt of gratitude to the Ptolemies, the Roman Senate duly agreed to intervene in Egypt's favor and sent a consul to insist on Antiochus' withdrawal. Antiochus obeyed.

The Ptolemaic dynasty had been saved but at the cost of increasing thralldom to Rome, becoming only a little better than Roman "clients." Continued infighting between members of the royal family only raised their dependence on Rome and they frequently called upon the Romans to arbitrate in their disputes, like a parent sorting out the squabbles of fractious children-which, to an extent, was how the Romans viewed the Ptolemies. The Romans were also alert to any strategic advantages that might fall to them, for if the Ptolemies were children, they were wealthy ones.

When, after five uneasy years of shared rule, Ptolemy "Potbelly" forced his older brother, Ptolemy VI, off the throne, the latter hurried to Rome, where, dressed for effect in mourning, he appealed for help. This gave the Senate an opportunity not only to demonstrate Rome's position as guardians of the dynasty but also to further weaken the Ptolemaic kingdom by splitting it in two. In 163 they decreed that Ptolemy VI was to rule in Egypt and Cyprus with his sister Cleopatra II, while Potbelly was to have Cyrenaica.

Reluctantly, the rival brothers accepted Rome's verdict, but potbelly continued to scheme and hit on a device that future Ptolemaic rulers, including the last Cleopatra's father, would employ to ingratiate themselves with Rome-he composed a will. After inveighing against those plotting "to deprive me not only of my kingdom but also of my life," he wrote, "If anything happens to me before I leave successors for my kingdom, I bequeath to the Romans the kingdom belonging to me, for whom from the beginning friendship and alliance have been preserved by me with all sincerity."

Potbelly dispatched the will to Rome and hastened after it to display the livid scars in his plump rippling flesh inflicted, he claimed, by would-be assassins. A doubtless amused Senate awarded him Cyprus for his trouble but took no further action after his brother failed to relinquish the island. Neither was Rome particularly perturbed by the ensuing chaos when, in 145, Ptolemy VI died. Potbelly rushed to Alexandria, took the title Ptolemy VIII and forced his brother's wife, their sister Cleopatra II, to marry him. As soon as he was sure he had impregnated her, he had her young son-his nephew-murdered before her eyes. The unfortunate Cleopatra II in due course bore Potbelly a son. However, in a psychotic outburst he later had the child dismembered and the pieces sent in a box to Cleopatra as a "birthday present" in revenge for his sister-wife's plotting against him.

Within three years of his marriage to Cleopatra II, Potbelly had also raped, then married, her daughter-his niece and stepdaughter-whom he made Cleopatra III and co-regent with her mother. Such incestuous bigamy was unprecedented. Furthermore, the two wives, though mother and daughter, hated each other, each determined that her own children and not her rival's should succeed to the throne. The rivalry only ended with the death of Cleopatra II, quite likely murdered by her daughter.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY by DIANA PRESTON Copyright © 2009 by Preston Writing Partnership. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Map....................x
Prologue....................1
I. Dynasty of Eagles....................9
1. Keeping It in the Family....................11
2. Siblings and Sibylline Prophecies....................20
II. Romulus' Cesspit....................3l 3. The Race for Glory....................33
4. "Odi et Amo"....................44
5. Crossing the Rubicon....................55
III. Queen of Egypt, Mistress of Rome....................63
6. Like a Virgin....................65
7. The Alexandrian War....................80
8. "Veni, Vidi, Vici"....................92
9. "Slave of the Times"....................101
10. The Ides of March....................110
IV. Isis Alone....................119
11. "Flight of the Queen"....................121
12. Ruler of the East....................139
V. Taming Heracles....................175
13. Mighty Aphrodite....................157
14. "Give It to Fulvia"....................166
15. Single Mother....................180
16. "The Awful Calamity"....................189
VI. Gods of the East....................201
17. Sun and Moon....................203
18. "Theatrical, Overdone and Anti-Roman"....................216
19. "A Woman of Egypt"....................229
20. The Battle of Actium....................243
21. After Actium....................256
22. Death on the Nile....................267
23. "Too Many Caesars Is Not a Good Thing"....................278
Postscript: "This Pair So Famous"....................288
Acknowledgments....................295
Appendix: Putting a Face to a Famous Name....................297
Notes andSources....................301
Bibliography....................315
Picture Credits....................319
Who Was Who in the First Century BC....................321
Index....................325
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Interesting...

    Just started reading the sample, seems interesting enough and i dont usually read in this genre. I will continue to read it though...out if curiosity so that in itself gets a few stars. I am intrugued to say the least.

    5 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Depends on what your looking for..

    Let me start of by saying that from a research standpoint, "Cleopatra and Antony" is fantastic. It goes waaay in depth about the time period surrounding Cleopatra and Antony, digging back over a hundred years prior to their existance to fully explain to the reader the context of the situation the lovers develop for themselves. The world is fully flushed with regards to battles, important and influential characters, the intrigue and power of the Roman Senate, and footnotes of interesting facts about the rulers and the period. It reads like a well-written history textbook and would be great companion for a class not only on Cleopatra and Antony but for the fifty to seventy-five years prior as well. If this is what you are looking for, a well-planned out history of the Roman Empire starting from just before Julius Caesar up to the death of Cleopatra and Antony, this book is for you as you will highly enjoy it.

    Pass by this book, however, if you are looking for a detailed scope into the time Cleopatra and Antony spent together. The most you are going to get from this book are facts, mostly from a fella named Plutarch. There will be no steamy scenes of the couple together, no diologue or dramtic scenery of any kind. Looking for fiction, look elsewhere.

    Also be prepared for the fact that although Cleopatra is listed first about Antony, this is kind of a misnomer. The two chapters deal with Cleopatra or, rather, her family history, and after that she is pretty much a supporting character. The REAL focus of this book is on Rome, specifically Caesar and his conquests and, after he dies, Antony. Antony himself isn't featured until about half way through the book. Granted there's a lot of history and backup to get to know before Antony's arrival and rise to power, but I felt that far too much time was spent on Caesar rather than Antony. And as for Cleopatra, it seems as if the author would tell about what was going on in Rome, then speculate as to how Cleopatra felt about the empire's actions on her and Alexandria. Don't get me wrong, Cleopatra's seduction of both Caesar and Antony and both of their affairs are outlined, but Cleopatra undoubtedly plays the secondary role to the affairs of Rome.

    A couple of detractions. Like any good history textbook, there are a looooot of names of once-important people, and while you remember the major ones, after a while minor names, places, battles, and truces all start to blend together. Fair warning. Another thing is that the author paints Cleopatra, Antony, and Caesar as the "good guys". If there is anything to be learned from this book is that this isn't always so. The author expands on their heroic deeds and flashes by their deceits while reversing that treatment on those opposing the main three. Right or wrong, everybody (except apparently Octavia) is out for conquest and nobody is saintlike in the least.

    Overall, I loved the book and thought it was a job well done. If a book on the history of Roman Empire as it pertains to the time of Caesar, Antony, and Cleopatra is what you are searching for, look no further.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    ok read

    You must enjoy ancient history to read this. It is not a love story. There is much information about ancient Rome. Many chapters have no mentiom of Cleopatra or Anthony. I enjoy history so for me it was a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If you want bare-bones facts about the couple and their time per

    If you want bare-bones facts about the couple and their time period, then this is the book for you. However, if you're looking for something with a little sparkle, then I suggest you look elsewhere. The research done to put this book together is very impressive but the whole work is poorly written; it almost doesn't seem as if the author bothered to edit it after writing it. If you're looking for a textbook-like read about Cleopatra and Antony then this book is a good choice but if you're looking for a well-done literary masterpiece, then I suggest you keep looking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    Very good but Nook version lacks the pictures

    I enjoyed the book very much. It is well written and interesting. The only disappointment is that the Nook version lacks the illustrations. Having read the entire book and account of the facial reconstruction I really wanted to see the images.

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  • Posted July 17, 2012

    This a great historical book. If you are looking for more of a r

    This a great historical book. If you are looking for more of a romance novel between Antony and Cleopatra, this is not it. Preston writes about historical accounts but does it well and keeps it interesting. This is not a quick read. There is a lot of information in this book, but Preston does it right and makes the history come alive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Not a love story!

    Although interesting, this is more of a history lesson and would have been better if their relationship was shown with more warmth and emotion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    Missing photographs

    Poorly done

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Solid research and very entertaining

    I had been looking for a book about Cleopatra for a while, but most of them were either written decades ago or had mediocre reviews at best. While I was looking for a biography on Cleopatra alone, I decided to give "Cleopatra and Antony" a try....it was well worth it. Diana Preston does a fantastic job of engrossing the reader into the story, making you feel as though you are actually there. While some have suggested Cleopatra gained the success she did through her sexuality alone, Preston shows just how intelligent and dynamic a woman she really was. Not just for the history buffs, "Cleopatra and Antony" would be enjoyable to someone just looking for an exciting story....after all, truth is stranger than fiction.

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  • Posted May 31, 2009

    This is the best and most readable history of Cleopatra & Antony that I have read!

    I have written a rock musical entitled "Cleopatra-A Life Unparalleled". I did the original writing in 1999 and had read all the books available at the time. My show is being done in New York City and so I've spent the past year on re-writes. A few weeks ago, I saw this book in Barnes & Noble and purchased it immediately as one I hadn't read. It is absolutely fantastic and I bought several copies as gifts for the actors in my show. On a personal note, it was reassuring because Miss Preston's analysis of Cleopatra's personality and motives were very much like my own. A particularly fascinating aspect of the book is the details of Roman/Egyptian daily life, right down to all the unsual delicacies they ate. The book reads like a novel and for anyone interested in Cleopatra, it is a must.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2009

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    Posted July 12, 2012

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    Posted June 17, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2010

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    Posted December 8, 2012

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    Posted August 14, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2009

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    Posted January 1, 2012

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