Sunday, August 24, 2008

Book Review: Cleopatra, Last Queen of Egypt

STLtoday (Allen Barra)

Cleopatra has generated more fame — in the form of poems, paintings, books, plays and films — per known fact than any woman in history. As Joyce Tyldesley phrases it in her fascinating and irresistible biography, "Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt," "It is clearly never going to be possible to write a conventional biography of Cleopatra."

So Tyldesley has gone ahead and written one.

An archaeologist, author ("Daughters of Isis") and popular consultant for TV shows on ancient history, Tyldesley has chosen to re-create her subject by putting together the puzzle pieces of history that surround Cleopatra's life and legend.

"With an almost complete lack of primary sources," she writes, "we cannot hope to hear Cleopatra's true voice, and we are forced to see her through secondary eyes. … Few of us would wish to be judged this way."

True, but the queen, actually Cleopatra VII, would perhaps not be displeased with the impression she has made more than 2,000 years after her death. Of course, she might have some trouble understanding her story as it has taken us so long to put it into perspective.

See the above page for the full review.

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