Egyptians ancient history always fascinates me. The mystery, drama and suspense surrounding it, intriguing my imagination. The discoveries about their way of life bewildering me. Among the all mighty Pharos, gods, goddesses the most sought after has been Cleopatra. When this book arrived I ignored the ever piling tbr and jumped right at it.
Stacy Schiff is a very competent history writer. The common perception surrounding Cleopatra is that she was legendary in her beauty and perhaps her only talent was to seduce her way to success. Stacy tried to give us another version of her personality as a very cunning politician and an intelligent Queen who ran the affairs of her troubling kingdom. She was a beloved goddess who knew how to win hearts of her subjects and exceptional party planner who could bedazzle her guests.
Cleopatra had a keen interest in medicine and used to experiment on her prisoners. She was an enlightened strategic planner who could turn the tides in her favour. There are interesting facts like Cleopatra her name was not unique. It was a common name in her family tree but she made the best of it. The details about sibling rivalries, killings, murder schemes among them, sibling marriages (she was wife of her two brothers) and how she fought her way through all this.
The author gives us an insight into the glorious Alexandria where Cleopatra ruled, with it’s state of the art architecture and roads structure. Furthermore the social environment was favourable for women, as they were very powerful even in those times. They could hold wealth, inheritance, social standings and well educated
When I start reading the book I was expecting Cleopatra as the central theme of the book but she was not. In most of the parts, she is in the background of Caesar and Rome. Probably because this is ancient history and not much of it record found anywhere. At that point of time, the work of the writers and poets prevailed in Rome. On the contrary, Rome didn’t uphold females in general and Cleopatra in particular in high regard. So those writings are highly biased. Stacy often starts the sentence with ” it’s not clear” or “it’s assumed” or ” it’s safe to guess” which puts doubt in ur mind that it might all be a guess work. With history and with such an enticing personality you want authentic information.