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From the Publisher
The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the
most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the
last queen of Egypt.
Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer
still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra
was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.
Though her life spanned fewer than 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 when both
were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed
with an ambitious sister as well; 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
Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were
married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar
and--after his murder--three more with his protégé. Already she was
the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with
Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the
age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an
alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in
our imaginations ever since.
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, Cleopatra''s supple personality
and the drama of her circumstances have 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. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff ''s is
a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.