Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: Cleopatra - A biography


With an exerpt from the book following the review.

Cleopatra was a tragic temptress who left a string of broken hearts up and down the Nile -- or at least, that's what her enemies in Rome wanted you to think.

Now, a new biography of the Egyptian queen aims to set the record straight.

Historian Duane Roller is the author of Cleopatra: A Biography, and he tells NPR's Guy Raz that the most popular images of Cleopatra came from a smear campaign waged by Rome.

"You have to remember, the information that we have about her was written by the people who defeated her -- her enemies," Roller says. "They saw her as a dangerous threat to the Roman Republic and [built] her up as this horrible woman who led men to their doom."

In fact, Roller says, while Cleopatra did have relationships with both Julius Caesar and his deputy Mark Antony, they were the only men in her life. "They were the two most important people in Rome in their era," Roller says, "so her connection with them was not purely a matter of physicality, it was a political decision."

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