Shakespeare, Dryden, and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Delacroix and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. But before her story was dramatized, it was lived. At only 18, the young woman known as Cleopatra was already one of history’s most remarkable figures: the Queen of Egypt. A canny political strategist, a brilliant manager, a tough negotiator, and the most manipulative of lovers, Cleopatra ruled with a potent mix of intelligence, money, and charm. Although her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. A dangerous power struggle with her brother marked her early adulthood and set the tone for the rest of her life. A relationship with Caesar, forged while under siege in her palace, launched her into a deadly mix of romance and strategy: a pleasure cruise down the Nile followed, as did a trip to Rome, which Cleopatra fled after Caesar’s brutal murder. A nine-year affair with Marc Antony marked her final years: together the lovers had three children and attempted to forge a new empire, before Augustus declared war on Cleopatra. Finally, Cleopatra’s doomed last year brought to fruition a life rich with political and sexual intrigue, throwing together the men of her past: Antony, Herod, and Augustus.Pulitzer prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff accomplishes a feat that has eluded artists and writers for centuries–capturing the queen as she really was. Schiff weaves together sex and celebrity, empire and politics in a story that is as contemporary as it is ancient, capturing fully for the first time the operatic power of Cleopatra’s life and reign.
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