Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: Antony and Cleopatra

Washington Times (Review by Gary Anderson)

By Adrian Goldsworthy
Yale University Press, $35, 480 pages

Antony and Cleopatra, the names conjure up a variety of images that include Roman military might, eastern decadence and a pair of tragic star-crossed lovers.

Some of that is actually accurate, but much of it is romanticized fiction. In his latest study of the Roman world, Adrian Goldsworthy takes on the task of separating truth from fiction, and he does a good job of it.

For those not familiar with the background story, the entire book revolves around the lead-up to the assassination of Julius Caesar and the ensuing struggle for his legacy. Marc Antony was one of Caesar's most trusted lieutenants. Octavian Caesar was his nephew, adopted son and heir. Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, was Caesar's mistress and bore him a son. All three started as allies in the struggle to avenge Caesar's death and to wrest what was becoming the Roman Empire out of the hands of his killers.

Predictably, once this was accomplished, the victors fought over the spoils.

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