Cleopatra: A Biography

Cleopatra: A Biography

3.4 14
by Duane W. Roller
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195365534

ISBN-13: 9780195365535

Pub. Date: 04/01/2010

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Few personalities from classical antiquity are more famous—yet more poorly understood—than Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. In this major biography, Duane Roller reveals that Cleopatra was in fact a learned and visionary leader whose overarching goal was always the preservation of her dynasty and kingdom.
Roller's authoritative account is the first to

Overview

Few personalities from classical antiquity are more famous—yet more poorly understood—than Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. In this major biography, Duane Roller reveals that Cleopatra was in fact a learned and visionary leader whose overarching goal was always the preservation of her dynasty and kingdom.
Roller's authoritative account is the first to be based solely on primary materials from the Greco-Roman period: literary sources, Egyptian documents (Cleopatra's own writings), and representations in art and coinage produced while she was alive. His compelling portrait of the queen illuminates her prowess as a royal administrator who managed a large and diverse kingdom extending from Asia Minor to the interior of Egypt, as a naval commander who led her own fleet in battle, and as a scholar and supporter of the arts. Even her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius—the source of her reputation as a supreme seductress who drove men to their doom—were carefully crafted state policies: she chose these partners to insure the procreation of successors who would be worthy of her distinguished dynasty. That Cleopatra ultimately lost to her Roman opponents, Roller contends, in no way diminishes her abilities.

"Roller tells his tale smoothly and accessibly....The resulting portrait is that of a complex, many-sided figure, a potent Hellenistic ruler who could move the tillers of power as skillfully as any man, and one far and nobly removed from the 'constructed icon' of popular imagination."
—The New York Times Book Review

"A rich account of late Ptolemaic culture."
—The New Yorker

"Offers a superb panorama of the society and culture of late Ptolemaic Egypt, with vivid sketches of the (remarkably vigorous) intellectual life of Cleopatra's Alexandria and the structural instabilities of the late Ptolemaic state."
—Times Literary Supplement

"Besides providing a compelling story and breathing fresh air into a heretofore two-dimensional caricature from history, Roller's 'Cleopatra' provides an interesting commentary on the attitudes still prevalent towards women who rule."
—Christian Science Monitor

"Compulsively readable."
—Bookslut

"A definitive account of a queen of remarkable strength."
—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195365535
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/01/2010
Series:
Women in Antiquity Series
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations
List of Illustrations
Introduction
1. Cleopatra's Ancestry and Background
2. The Ptolemaic Heritage and the Entanglement With Rome
3. Cleopatra's Youth and Education
4. Becoming Queen (51-47 BC)
5. Consolidating the Empire (47-40 BC)
6. The Peak Years (40-34 BC)
7. The Operation of the Kingdom
8. Scholarship and Culture at the Court of Cleopatra
9. Downfall (34-30 BC)
Appendices
Bibliography
List of Passages Cited
Index

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Cleopatra 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very informative, yet it was very difficult to find the information I was looking for. I was using Cleopatra as the subject of my biography. I gotta say, she had a pretty twisted life. I was originally using this book, but I had about 3 days to finish it so I went with a picture book. I'm going into 7th grade and I'm in Academy la/lit. I could read a Harry Potter book in a day or two if I was focused. I read for at least a few hours each night, but this book was so bland, I couldn't make myself dedicated to reading such a factual and advanced book. I definetely do not recommend this book to kids of any age. For adults, it should be okay to read.
Bagamehr More than 1 year ago
I finished Roller's biography of Cleopatra on Mother's Day, which is appropriate given the importance of her role as mother to her four children, the eldest fathered by Julius Caesar and the younger three by Marcus Antonius. The plans she had in mind for these illustrious offspring did not come to pass, but the scope of her vision was "global." In the Donations of Alexandria, she divided much of the known world not under Roman control among her children. Had she and Antonius played the game of Roman politics with a little more skill, the history of the world would have changed substantially. Roller's greatest contribution in this work is his understanding of Cleopatra as a Hellenistic monarch whose devotion to her kingdom and territorial acqusitions owed as much to Alexander's vision of a unified world as to her personal pride and ambition. He has done a credible job of mining the limited, suspect, and often blatantly biased sources for information about his subject. In the end, Cleopatra as a person remains forever beyond our grasp, but Roller manages to give quite a good portrait of Cleopatra as politician. That she failed in her confrontation with Octavian is less important than that she preserved her rule for such a long time in a world dominated by Rome. Another mother cared for Cleopatra's three younger children after their mother's suicide -- Octavia, the sister of Cleopatra's nemesis, Octavian, who was also the wife of Antonius, the father of Cleopatra's children. Cleopatra failed in implementing her vision of a new world order, but in so doing she influenced the creation of the Roman Empire. Her daughter, Cleopatra Selene, created her own version of an enlightened Hellenistic kingdom while ruling Mauretania with her scholar husband, Juba II. Cleopatra will continue to inspire our imaginations, but we should be grateful to Roller for his careful research that has shown us how little we truly can know about the woman whose coins bore the imposing inscription, "CLEOPATRAE REGINAE REGUM FILIORUM REGUM."
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Ballstein11 More than 1 year ago
Duane Roller does a very good job in sticking to the facts of what happened, or may have happened in the life of Cleopatra. He stuck to only primary sources, and pointed out areas in which they have differed. An excellent read, although not a light read.
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Monk-Man More than 1 year ago
Fun to read. was Cleopatra that good? or lucky?
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