Cleopatra’s palace shimmered with onyx and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Though her life spanned fewer then forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.
She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first and she poisoned the second. Incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a son with Caesar and - after his murder, three more with his protégé.
Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way the supple personality has been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order a generation before the birth of Christ. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff’s is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.
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