Alecia's Reviews > Cleopatra: A Life

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
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's review
Jan 07, 2011

it was ok

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message 1: by Alecia (last edited Jan 07, 2011 01:16PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alecia I found this book a chore to get through until the final, somewhat poignant end. Because there are few, if any, hard "facts" about or even images of Cleopatra, much of her story is based on conjecture and other anecdotal research. There is a lot of "Cleopatra may very well have felt..." or "It is likely that she did...". I found the prose dry and quite wordy. But the book has tried to debunk some myths, such as Cleopatra's great beauty and hyper-sexuality that we have assumed are facts. It does not appear that she looked like Elizabeth Taylor. It seems that her intelligence and shrewdness may have trumped her physical beauty. Those few images and actual written words passed down do not appear to portray her as a great beauty. Schiff stresses her education and ability to speak many languages, and her talent as a strategist and negotiator. Also, she contrasts the role that Egyptian women played in society versus the more subservient role that Roman women assumed. This strong, female ruler antagonized the Romans by her very being, making her fodder for the final assault on her by Octavian. He had no trouble spreading rumours and innuendos about her that the Romans readily believed. This was not a terribly enjoyable read for me, but obviously some people feel differently about it, as this book was named one of the ten best of 2010 by the New York Times Book Review. I have even read that this book was optioned as a film with Angelina Jolie to star as Cleo!

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