Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff increased my knowledge of Egypt and its well-known ruler who lived and died very near the time when Christ was born. I was very surprised to learn Cleopatra was in Rome when Julius Caesar, her lover and father of her son, was assassinated. Not only was she there, she was pregnant with a second child. Cleopatra did not witness the murder, but it prompted her to make a hasty exit back to Alexandria and the safety of the homeland she ruled.
King Herod is a recognizable biblical figure in this biography. He is portrayed as a two-faced tyrant. Mark Antony, Cleopatra’s second Roman lover with whom she had three additional children occupies the final chapter of her life.
Outside of all the romantic drama, the author’s research reveals Cleopatra as a temptress, but also a highly educated, adept leader of Egypt.
For me, the most difficult part of this history was reading about the violent nature of people during this time who thought nothing of murdering anyone who got in their way. Children of conquered leaders were paraded in chains in the streets. Ultimately, many were murdered. Heartbreaking!
Caesar and Mark Antony were married men with families, but extramarital affairs and illegitimate offspring from those dalliances were accepted practice.
This book fascinated me because I have always been drawn to Egyptology. I highly recommend this novel in conjunction with SPQR which I read and reviewed some time ago. They compliment each other. Knowing Roman history is valuable when reading about this segment in history because they are deeply connected.
Cleopatra’s tomb has never been found, but this link offers hope that it may be in the near future: