Well, I am not sure that this ebook makes the case for both of them to be History’s Most Powerful Couple. Caesar is presented...moreCrossposted at Booklikes.
Well, I am not sure that this ebook makes the case for both of them to be History’s Most Powerful Couple. Caesar is presented in more solid detail than Cleopatra. For instance, Cleopatra’s arrival is the standard carpet story, but apparently she was naked. It is okay.(less)
Cleopatra has been fastinating people ever since she took the throne, and she didn't even have a modern PR person. This book was the companion to the...moreCleopatra has been fastinating people ever since she took the throne, and she didn't even have a modern PR person. This book was the companion to the National Geographic travelling show, which I did not see.
First, the pictures are stunning. It's worth the cost of the book alone. Nice underwater photos. Beautiful.
However, the infromation about Cleopatra is very general and highlights her sexuality more than her political presence. I lost count how many times "pleasure palace", "lover affair", "beautiful" were mentioned. It is unclear if this is the authors' own leanings, (Both Hawass and Goddio wrote parts of the book)or if it was done as marketing, which seems more likely.
It seems that a good part of the book is to argue that Cleopatra is buried at Taposiris Magna. This theory was first put forward by Kathleen Martinez who, interstingly, doesn't have a piece here. Why? Hawass gives her credit, he gives her alot of credit, so why not have piece by her in this book? Because she would focus on Cleopatra's brain and not her body?
Maybe, but that omission is what makes me give the book three stars. Yet the price for the book is well worth it just to look at the amazing pictures. (less)
I really wanted to like this book; I really truly did. Maybe it's me. Yes, that's it. I'm sure it's me for I never, ever saw Cleopatra as such a weak...moreI really wanted to like this book; I really truly did. Maybe it's me. Yes, that's it. I'm sure it's me for I never, ever saw Cleopatra as such a weak willed victim. And stupid. I don't see her as stupid.
Either Neil Gaiman has very different tastes than me or something.(less)
John Knox, who according to a suscept legend is buried beneath a car park in Edinburgh, managed to anger every single woman ruler of...more3.5 stars, really.
John Knox, who according to a suscept legend is buried beneath a car park in Edinburgh, managed to anger every single woman ruler of his time with the writing of a tract stating the belief that women should not rule. Elizabeth I, who he later tried to mollify (he didn't mean her, obivously, just those Catholic females), wasn't impressed. One cannot help but wonder what Cleopatra would've made of him. Would she have fed him to the crocodiles? Would she have laughed long and loud at him? It is impossible to answer the question for in many ways Cleopatra belongs as much to legend and literature as she does to history, perhaps even more so because of the lack of the historical record.
It is this lack of clear sources, of first hand accounts and of the Egyptian side of the story, that causes the fasination people have with Cleopatra. In many ways, she is a blank slate. On one hand, she inspires writers like Chaucer and Shakespeare. She has been cloned, immortalized, a vampire, and a magican. The fasination also leads to biography after biography about the Egyptian queen, many of which read like fiction.
At one point, Cleopatra was the immoral whore who stood in stark relief to women like Octavia who represented the good and sexless mother. Sheis the object of desire for two great men, and nothing more. More recently, she has been reclaimed as a powerful and talented ruler.
Schiff is the latest in a line historians to tackle this seemingly engima of the Egyptian queen by putting her in context. Like all Cleopatra biographers, Schiff faces the problem of sources, Roman sources who are writing at several years removed from events and with an obivious bias aganist the queen. While Schiff says we shouldn't trust them, she does, at times, trust them. It would help the reader to know why we should distrust Plutarch at one point and then believe him thirty pages later. Additionally, Schiff glosses over or ignores areas where the history isn't clear - for instance, the question of how many older sisters Cleopatra had. Schiff sides with just one, but doesn't show the reader how she reaches this conclusion (and considering that Egyptalogists seemed unsure on this question, I would've liked a little more infromation in that regard).
Schiff also seems guilty of romantanizing Cleopatra in the same way that she states fictional writers do. It is quite easy to Schiff writing about Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra rather than a Cleopatra Cleopatra. A truly wonderful biography leaves the reader with a feeling of knowing the subject. While this has to be extremely difficult and, perhaps, rare for biographes that deal with anicent figures, this books presents Cleopatra as a ghostly figure, one that does not appear in other biographies.
This isn't to say that the book is not good. Schiff can write. Period, full stop. She can write. She has a wonderful tone. (That's why it is 3.5). Her language is engrossing, and she writes in such a way that even a reader familiar with Cleopatra's life can enjoy the ride. The problem is that the book doesn't present the clear picture of time and place and subject that works by Michael Grant and Joyce A. Tyldesley do, works that Schiff used according to her biblography.(less)
Despite the title, the book is less about Cleopatra and Antony, and more simply about the Romans, in particular Caeser, Antony, and Octavian.
And that,...moreDespite the title, the book is less about Cleopatra and Antony, and more simply about the Romans, in particular Caeser, Antony, and Octavian.
And that, in short, is my only problem with this book.
Preston writes in her introduction that Cleopatra deserves first place when listing the couple and that much of what we know about Cleopatra comes from Octavian's propganda machine. Considering this and the title itself, one would think that the book delivers Cleopatra and Antony from the propganda machine.
One would be half right.
Preston does a very good job in redeeming Antony and showing him to be more than just a drunk who liked a good time. Too often, regardless of a pro Cleopatra or Pro Octavian camp, writers make Antony into a worthless jerk. Preston does not do that.
But Cleopatra isn't really in the book.
And Preston keeps quoting the propganda without going into much depth about what might be wrong about it.
Preston's book is more about Roman politics, understandable considering how Cleopatra was in part influenced/ connected to Rome. The drawback to this, and it is a huge drawback, is that Cleopatra comes across as a woman who did little more than wait around for Caeser or Antony to show up. One even forgets about her. This cheapens her. She does not come across as a strong ruler because Preston spends so little time showcasing Cleopatra as ruling by herself. The reader sees Antony and the other Romans acting independently, but never really sees Cleopatra doing so. This absence is somewhat understandable, I suppose. Battles are more interesting than dealing with famines, but still more effect could have gone into the few, very few, Cleopatra sections of the book.
What is even worse about this presentation of Cleopatra is that it presents her solely from Roman eyes, making her little more than a flunkie and still defining her though a lens that is somewhat disinterested if not out right hostile. For a better book on Cleopatra in the context of her own culture, read Cleopatra Last Queen of Egypt.
This aside, the book outside of its treatment of Cleopatra is quite enjoyable. Preston does a very good job at explaining Roman politics without confusing the reader or sounding boring. She also has a bunch of interesting facts that I did not know. Like, for instance, that gladiators had to wear appartatuses to stop them from any sexual indulgence a week before they fought (it sounds painful). The footnotes are wonderfully and amusing. Additionally, despite the absence of Cleopatra, Preston does spend time describing Cleopatra's family tree. I don't know why they are remaking I, Claudius when they could be doing a very nice version with the Ptolemies. The Ptolemies really knew how to do soap opera.
So three stars due to a lack of Cleo, but still a good book to read if you are interested in the time period.(less)
Before I start this review, I have to thank Sisimka. She's the reason I have this book. Thank you Sisimka.
Helen might have been the face that launched...moreBefore I start this review, I have to thank Sisimka. She's the reason I have this book. Thank you Sisimka.
Helen might have been the face that launched a thousand ships, but Cleopatra went further with a vulture beak on her face. Honestly, Cleopatra's nose was ugly. Yet, society credits Cleopatra with being a great beauty. A sexual adventuress, a femme fatale, a hot, murdering mama. But not really a mother, though she did have four children.
Lucy Hughes-Hallett examines the myths and views of Cleopatra thoughout the ages. She spends the first section of the book going into detail about Ocatvain's story about Cleopatra versus what Cleopatra's story might have been. It is this first section of the book that provides biographically detail. Readers should be warned, however, that this book is not a biography of Cleopatra. Readers who want a straight forward biography should check out Michael Grant's work. The second half of the book deals with how artists and writers thoughout the ages have treated Cleopatra. The book was published in 199o so more recent treatments such as The Memoirs of Cleopatra are not mentioned.
Hallett raises several interesting points. We are fasnicated by Cleopatra, but even today it is more in terms of her love affairs (and it seems she only had two) more than anything else. How many people reading this review, for instance, knew Cleopatra had four children? Having her as a mother limits the sexual beauty of Cleopatra that society has in its mind. The same is true of Helen, who was a mother when she abanonded husband and child to run off with Paris. Hallett focues on the idea of Cleopatra as other, as the Orient to the West and how each author uses Cleopatra to show how HE and his society sees women.
What I found to be very interesting is the sheer number of paintings that show Cleopatra having the asp bite her breast when she commits suicide (Ouch!). There is proably some deep symbolism here, the inversion of life or something, and I wish Hallett had gone into that aspect of it a bit more.
Hallett's conclusions still ring true today. Even in a pro-Cleopatra novel like The Memoirs of Cleopatrathe plot focuces on the love affairs. Cleopatra comes across as a saint and the men are not good enough for her. Then there is the other extreme, Cleopatra the queenly whore as in For Destiny or Desire. Cleopatra becomes what the writer wants her to be, sainted matyr or trashy romance heroine, not really who she was. (less)
When everyone thinks of great Shakespearean plays, Hamlet springs to mind, or Lear , or The Tempest, or Dream or the lust filled R&J. I, however,...moreWhen everyone thinks of great Shakespearean plays, Hamlet springs to mind, or Lear , or The Tempest, or Dream or the lust filled R&J. I, however, think Tony and Cleo, if I may be informal, is one of Shakespeare's best.
Instead of the heady, young lust, sorry, love that is R&J we are presented with a mature love affair, a love affair that perhaps echoes the court of King James I. A world where the playwright is entirely sympathetic to an Antony who allows his appetite to dominate him. What we are also given, and what rarely gets acknowledged, is a wonderful and at times stark portrayal of power and the politics surrounding it. The play itself as wonderful comments about the nature of getting and keeping power, and about the politics underlings must play in order to keep their heads.(less)
Throne of Isis is set during Cleopatra's reign, though Cleopatra is not the main character. The setting serves as a backdrop for a romance between a R...moreThrone of Isis is set during Cleopatra's reign, though Cleopatra is not the main character. The setting serves as a backdrop for a romance between a Roman and an Egyptian. Tarr's book is very good, and she presents a very believable portrait of Egypt's infamous or famous last Pharaoh. (less)
This is a good biography of Cleopatra. Tydesley does not really contribute anything new about Cleopatra per se (though she offers a good analysis for...moreThis is a good biography of Cleopatra. Tydesley does not really contribute anything new about Cleopatra per se (though she offers a good analysis for the major areas of debate); however, the book does give background material about Cleopatra's family and her Egypt that one does not usually see in most Cleopatra biographies. This gives the reader a better view of the Cleopatra herself as well as the Egypt of her times, an Egypt that is not presented though Roman eyes.(less)
It's not so much a historical fiction or history, but a book about a good woman (Octavia) and a bad woman (Cleopatra) with a dose of "young girls shou...moreIt's not so much a historical fiction or history, but a book about a good woman (Octavia) and a bad woman (Cleopatra) with a dose of "young girls should be like Octavia" thrown in. If you like Cleopatra, this isn't an enjoyable book, unless you are looking at propaganda and how long it lasts.(less)
**spoiler alert** I picked this book up for two reasons. I like Scarborough's writing; she has a good sense of humor. I also like Cleopatra, so it see...more**spoiler alert** I picked this book up for two reasons. I like Scarborough's writing; she has a good sense of humor. I also like Cleopatra, so it seemed like a good mix.
In some ways the book was a little disappointing. The actual blending that is engaging is that of Duke and Gretchen, not Leda and Cleopatra. In fact, considering, Leda's character and her dislike of the process, she seems to rush into it without any real sense of urgency. But Duke blended with Gretchen was a hoot.
There is also something unsettling about the reacion of Paul to Leda/Cleopatra. He is more attracted to Cleopatra than Leda, and yet Leda seems too okay with it.
**spoiler alert** I like historical fiction, and I like Cleopatra. I don't even mind if she is painted as a bit of hussy in books, honest. This book g...more**spoiler alert** I like historical fiction, and I like Cleopatra. I don't even mind if she is painted as a bit of hussy in books, honest. This book gives a Cleopatra who has sex a lot and who has sex with just about every guy she knows. If she was having sex this much, she would not have been able to rule. The book is smut, and sadly, it is not even fun smut. No character is likeable or even sympathetic.(less)
Old ReviewGo read Asterix, any of them. Honestly. Even if you're an adult. I read them first when I was a...moreIt's amazing what a pretty nose will get you.
Old ReviewGo read Asterix, any of them. Honestly. Even if you're an adult. I read them first when I was around 8-10, and I return to them periodically. There is one level of humor for adults, another for children. Adults will crack up over every name. Honestly, what isn't funny about a druid named Getafix?
This edition to the series is great. Though there is no pun on Cleopatra's name, there are pretty of comments about her nose. A nice and amusing use of Cleopatra. I enjoyed how the Sphinx lost its nose.(less)
Saylor copies Edward Rutherfurd's idea of telling the history of a city or a nation by tracing one family. The problem is, he isn't as good as Rutherf...moreSaylor copies Edward Rutherfurd's idea of telling the history of a city or a nation by tracing one family. The problem is, he isn't as good as Rutherfurd is. Most of the characters, especially the women, are one dimensional. In addition, he makes Cleopatra boring. That's hard.(less)