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Cleopatra - A Biography Paperback – May 24, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Packages; Reprint edition (May 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785818286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785818281
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,944,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Grant was formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh University, the first Vice Chancellor of the Queen's University, Belfast, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Khartoum. He is Doctor of Letters at Cambridge and Honorary Doctor of Letters and Laws at Dublin and Belfast respectively. He has also been President of the Classical Association of England, the Virgil Society and the Royal Numismatic Society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile

This historic account of the life of Cleopatra brings together the politics, culture and passion of an ancient era that links Greek, Roman and Egyptian history. Nelson Runger provides a clear, straightforward narration, which chronicles complicated and chaotic annals from the past. His appealing voice imparts a perceptible portrayal of Cleopatra herself. Occasionally, this unabridged recounting becomes prolonged and tedious, but Runger's adept oration keeps the listener pursuing the facts to the concluding scene--Cleopatra's death and the dispersal of her family and dominion. B.J.L. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Scott Chamberlain VINE VOICE on October 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Cleopatra is a fascinating figure... renowned as a patron of arts and learning, a gifted linguist, and a canny politicians, she is too often remembered as a sex kitten. Grant cuts thru the myths, pro- and anti propaganda to deliver what is probably the best biography on Cleopatra. Writen by one of the marquee lights of classical history, the book is written in academic style, although for the most part it is highly readable. To be honest, I found the first preliminary chapters to be somewhat slow going, but once the story begins it takes off like a grand soap opera. Not as splashy as some other works on the great queen, this is *the* place to go for a detailed, comprehensive look at Cleopatra.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kris on February 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a classicist as some of the other reviewers on this site appear to be, but as a layperson I can say that this book was pretty interesting. There are some boring parts, as others noted, but what biography does not have some boring parts? Here's what I found especially interesting:
Grant gives readers a good idea about how most of the chronicles he consulted were written from one perspective or another and thus tended to be sentimentally biased in one direction or another. Grant points out significantly that as "Westerners" we have clung most closely to the "Occidental" version of matters, rather than anything leaning toward the other side, the "Orient." He points out consistently how ancient writers who disliked Cleopatra changed facts around to disparage her, while the opposite was true of those who liked her.
The point being, it seems, that you have to take your history with a grain of salt (just as we do the news from the various modern media). Some reviewers seem to feel that Grant himself is slightly biased, in Cleopatra's favor, but as long as we're aware of it, we can perhaps discern the bias and read other viewpoints to get a well-rounded sense of what actually occurred.
The other interesting point was how many people, mostly men presumably, died during these ancient wars. And how little their deaths accounted for anything. In other words, life was a lot cheaper then than today. In Cleopatra's time, only the top dogs had the sense of individual rights that most of us have today. Is that progress?
Grant's book, of course, is thoroughly documented for those wishing to do further investigation.
Diximus.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kristine Lee on January 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
for me anyway. I received this book as part of a collection put together on women in history. I had never read much on Cleopatra, which is surprising because since childhood I have read extensively on Ancient Greece and Egypt, but never more than touched on the subject of Cleopatra, so my prior knowledge of her was the legend, ie. the seduction of Julius Caesar, a life of sumptuous life and sensuous extravagance, and eventual suicide.

Mr. Grant's research takes us through what little we know of her as a person, and blends that neatly together with a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the political, religious and social conditions of that time. Some of his suppositions are nothing short of tantalizing. Whether you've read it all or are looking to find a definitive book on Cleopatra, this is the one!

Since reading this book, I have picked up many others on Cleopatra; unfortunately the information is scant. This book has by far been the most satisfying read yet.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Murphy on April 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are naturally times in this book when it reads like a soap opera, but this has got to be the most detailed, believable, and scholarly work on Cleopatra I have ever read. Such is the background Mr. Grant gives on her father Ptolemy Auletes, the Roman situation with Egypt, and the Ptolemaic Dynasty for the first half of the book I almost forgot who it was about.

As with most ancient people little is known of Cleopatra's early life, but the author reconstructs it as best he can, and gives us a view into her world and her mind from her early years to her final days. Included, of course, are detailed retellings of her affairs with Caesar and Marcus Antonius, her fiasco of a marriage to her brother, and the common opinion of her held by the Romans, Egyptians, and even the Jews of her period.

This book really repaints the stereotypical image of this fascinating, but indeed deadly woman. She was, of course, not an Egyptian but a Macedonian by birth and a Greek by language and upbringing, and was known not so much for her beauty as for a combination of her magnetic personality, her keen intelligence, and her large, bent nose; this final feature is depicted in all the few contemporary portraits of her.

Overall this is an excellent and scholarly reference to the life of Cleopatra and the Egypt and Rome of her day, and is not at all dry but an absorbing read. Very highly recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gloria M. Dunn on January 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
This little known biography of Cleopatra VII and her times is magnificent. Grant's book as an attempt at an historical biography of this most famous queen that is not colored by the propaganda that was circulated by Rome and that has persisted even until today, is an unmitigated success. Grant's Cleopatra rings more true to the ear and the mind. Reminding us the Cleopatra was not a beautiful woman (although this belief of beauty has lately been called into question) but a powerful monarch who ruled her country well, was loved by all her subjects and stood toe to toe with Rome when the world was caving to their influence.

He reminds us that Cleopatra and Mark Anthony almost won. That Cleopatra was one of, if not the most educated woman of her time; speaking at least five or six languages of which the most notable was Latin, Greek and she was the first Ptolemy to speak Egyptian. From her birth to her ascension and ultimately her death Grant is spot on. He diligently explains the Egyptian monarchy and government under the Ptolemy's, how this success in government allowed Egypt to be the richest country during its time and how this shaped the outcome of the inevitable stand off with the chronically bankrupt Rome. I loved this book.
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