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The subject of myth for more than two millennia, Cleopatra has long been obscured by Roman propaganda, Shakespearean tragedy, and Hollywood glamour. Yet Cleopatra was a woman of passion, magnetism, and political genius, the last and perhaps the greatest Egyptian pharaoh. In Cleopatra the Great, world-renowned Egyptologist Joann Fletcher draws on a wealth of newly discovered information and research to reveal this vital woman as she truly was—a polymath monarch; a potent combination of traditionalist and ...
The subject of myth for more than two millennia, Cleopatra has long been obscured by Roman propaganda, Shakespearean tragedy, and Hollywood glamour. Yet Cleopatra was a woman of passion, magnetism, and political genius, the last and perhaps the greatest Egyptian pharaoh. In Cleopatra the Great, world-renowned Egyptologist Joann Fletcher draws on a wealth of newly discovered information and research to reveal this vital woman as she truly was—a polymath monarch; a potent combination of traditionalist and innovator; an astute futurist; and a ruthless opportunist who would let nothing stand in her way.
Cleopatra the Great tells the story of a turbulent time and the extraordinary woman at its center. Intelligent and compulsively readable, this is an unparalleled biography worthy of one of history's most fascinating leaders: politician, mother, and goddess, the legendary Cleopatra.
Egyptologist Fletcher (The Search for Nefertiti,2004) takes on the legendary Egyptian queen.
The author not only fills in the blanks but also provides incredible detail about the lives of Egyptians during the 300-year reign of the Ptolemies. Beginning with the conquests of Alexander the Great and his search for a site to establish his eponymous city in Egypt, the author effortlessly examines the facts. Among numerous others, Fletcher exposes the largely unknown stories of Caesar's epilepsy, Cleopatra's vast intelligence and Mark Antony's dereliction of duty. Readers will be pleased to discover that many of the Cleopatra myths are based in fact. She really did have herself delivered to Caesar—whether in a sack or rolled in a carpet is immaterial—and there's also a much more plausible version of her suicide. Fletcher reveals a brilliant politician who knew enough to learn the language of her people in addition to the traditional Greek of Alexandria. In the years when the annual floods didn't appear, she quickly opened her stores to feed the country and win their hearts. Her parties were legendary; it was not unusual for guests to dine on gold or silver service and then have it, as well as the couch they reclined on, presented to them as gifts. While the Roman Empire conquered a great deal of the known world, Cleopatra surely got the better of Rome, controlling two of the empire's strongest leaders with her financial support, wit and sexuality. Neither Caesar nor Antony would ever have been able to control the Eastern part of the Roman Empire without Cleopatra. In return, Egypt received vast lands, incredible incomes and four heirs with impeccable bloodlines.
A perfect complement to Stacey Schiff's excellent Cleopatra: A Life (2010). Readers interested in Cleopatra and her world are advised to read both.
1 The Spirit of Alexander: Europe and Egypt 11
2 In the Blood: the Ptolemies and Their Cleopatras 37
3 The Goddess Comes Forth: Cleopatra's Early Life 73
4 A Veiled Proposal: Cleopatra Meets Caesar 101
5 The River of Life: the Progress down the Nile 125
6 Great Mother Isis: the Birth of Caesarion 153
7 Caesar's Palace: Cleopatra in Europe 179
8 Death and Resurrection: Osiris Avenged 207
9 The Inimitable Life: Antonius and Conspicuous Consumption 235
10 Goddess of the Golden Age: the Restoration of Empire 263
11 The Final Year: Defeat, Death and Eternal Life 295
12 Epilogue: the Aftermath 320
Note on Spellings 444
Picture Acknowledgements 444