Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity)

Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity)

Duane W. Roller

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0195365534

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Few personalities from classical antiquity are more famous--yet more poorly understood--than Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. In this major biography, Duane Roller reveals that Cleopatra was in fact a learned and visionary leader whose overarching goal was always the preservation of her dynasty and kingdom.
Roller's authoritative account is the first to be based solely on primary materials from the Greco-Roman period: literary sources, Egyptian documents (Cleopatra's own writings), and representations in art and coinage produced while she was alive. His compelling portrait of the queen illuminates her prowess as a royal administrator who managed a large and diverse kingdom extending from Asia Minor to the interior of Egypt, as a naval commander who led her own fleet in battle, and as a scholar and supporter of the arts. Even her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius--the source of her reputation as a supreme seductress who drove men to their doom--were carefully crafted state policies: she chose these partners to insure the procreation of successors who would be worthy of her distinguished dynasty. That Cleopatra ultimately lost to her Roman opponents, Roller contends, in no way diminishes her abilities.

"Roller tells his tale smoothly and accessibly....The resulting portrait is that of a complex, many-sided figure, a potent Hellenistic ruler who could move the tillers of power as skillfully as any man, and one far and nobly removed from the 'constructed icon' of popular imagination."
--The New York Times Book Review

"A rich account of late Ptolemaic culture."
--The New Yorker

"Offers a superb panorama of the society and culture of late Ptolemaic Egypt, with vivid sketches of the (remarkably vigorous) intellectual life of Cleopatra's Alexandria and the structural instabilities of the late Ptolemaic state."
--Times Literary Supplement

"Besides providing a compelling story and breathing fresh air into a heretofore two-dimensional caricature from history, Roller's 'Cleopatra' provides an interesting commentary on the attitudes still prevalent towards women who rule."
--Christian Science Monitor

"Compulsively readable."
--Bookslut

"A definitive account of a queen of remarkable strength."
--Publishers Weekly

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acquisition of territory but a threat to those who might think of removing the king. Yet at the same time the very existence of such a stratagem demonstrates how much Roman and Ptolemaic fortunes had become entangled. In fact the will was never invoked. Ptolemy VIII lived 40 more years, and he became king of Egypt when his brother died in 145 b.c., marrying Cleopatra II, the sister of both, as well as marrying her daughter Cleopatra III, the most convoluted family relationship that the Ptolemies

were to have. The succession of the dynasty was through Cleopatra III, as she and Ptolemy VIII were parents of both Ptolemy IX and X, the former Cleopatra VII’s grandfather.61 The Ptolemaic Heritage 41 The year after he wrote his will, Ptolemy VIII returned to Rome. Among his activities there was his unsuccessful courting of Cornelia, recently the widow of the distinguished Ti. Sempronius Gracchus, the consul of 177 and 163 b.c.62 She was the mother of the famous Gracchi brothers, who would

not to be realized.1 Perhaps his own execution of the eldest, Berenike, set a bad precedent. Problems arose almost immediately after his death, which had occurred by 22 March 51 b.c., perhaps in February.2 The two older children, Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII, who had been made joint rulers by their father, succeeded to the throne, but Cleopatra moved swiftly to assert herself. On 22 March she traveled to Hermonthis, just south of Thebes, to install a new Buchis bull, the first recorded event of her

cleopatra a roman citizen? 167 5. some ancient literary descriptions of cleopatra 6. the iconography of cleopatra vii 173 Abbreviations 185 Notes 189 Bibliography 219 Index of Passages Cited 231 Index 239 169 This page intentionally left blank Illustrations Maps 1. Cleopatra’s kingdom at its greatest extent, 11 2. Egypt in the time of Cleopatra, 12 3. Alexandria in the time of Cleopatra, 13 Illustrations 1. Marble head of Ptolemy XII, reworked from an earlier portrait, in the Louvre (Ma

known: he received back the territories that he had lost to Cleopatra, as well as her bodyguard to be his own, but continued to be a problematic Roman ally for the remaining quarter-century of his life. Ironically he was designated to fund and build Nikopolis, the victory city that Octavian established at Actium.18 Archelaos of Kappadokia was the longest survivor of the network of allied kings, lasting until around a.d. 17, one of the last alive who had served with Cleopatra and Antonius.

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