Sunday, November 02, 2008

Book Review: The Last Queen of Egypt

Indian Express

Was Cleopatra only a femme fatale or an ill-fated politician?

Cleopatra has always been a player in other people’s dramas: she can be a coquette, a feminist, a martyr or a villain, a goddess or a fallen woman, even blonde or black. Horace called her the fatale monstrum—the fatal monster. Chaucer made her virtuous. Shakespeare turned her into a romantic heroine. Her nemesis, the Roman Octavian, called her a whore. It is that description—Cleopatra as a vamp, a seductress whose machinations led to the downfall of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony—that dominates the countless depictions in art, literature, theatre, film and history books.

When she died in 30 B.C., she left no writings behind, and much of her city, Alexandria, now lies beneath the Mediterranean. But the shards of evidence the Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley pieces together in her engaging new biography, Cleopatra: The Last Queen of Egypt, reveal why it is so easy to misconstrue her story.
See the above address for the entire two-page review.

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