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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading....
I have just finished reading this biography on Cleopatra and I found it to be quite informative and educational. The book itself is pretty short, about 156 pages long with additional 30 pages or so of appendix information. One of the elements I haven't considered before was Cleopatra as a Roman citizen. This is more of a conjecture by the book but an interesting mind...
Published on April 11, 2010 by lordhoot

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much about Cleopatra
This book has a very long introduction discussing Cleopatra's lineage, taking many detours through the politics of the time.
There's finally some discussion of Cleopatra starting in chapter 3 (Cleopatra's Youth and Education) but again the narrative is mostly about politics. Out of the 8 chapters i'd say 7 are about everything else, the epilogue, appendices, notes,...
Published 21 months ago by Robertuccio


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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading...., April 11, 2010
By 
lordhoot "lordhoot" (Anchorage, Alaska USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) (Hardcover)
I have just finished reading this biography on Cleopatra and I found it to be quite informative and educational. The book itself is pretty short, about 156 pages long with additional 30 pages or so of appendix information. One of the elements I haven't considered before was Cleopatra as a Roman citizen. This is more of a conjecture by the book but an interesting mind twister that reflects on the long relationship her family had with the Roman Republic. The book tries to cut down the romantic notion of Cleopatra and focus mainly on her abilities as a ruler and the trials and tribulations that went with it. From the book she appears to be a very cunning woman who uses her political wits, female wiles and just about every other weapons available to her to maintained her power and independence of her kingdom. She was obviously very intelligent, knowledgable and her ability to speak several languages clearly made a strong impression. But as it turned out, in the end, the tide of history was against her and she placed too much hope in Mark Antony who proves to be more of a lapdog then a lion at the end.

I thought the book was well written and its appears that the author did his research pretty well. It is nice that this book doesn't fall into the trap of political correctness by even bothering to discuss if Cleopatra was a black woman or not. The book clearly stated that she was of a Macedonian birth although her mother may have been of some Egyptian blood. (Egyptians back then, were not black but more Semitic.) This may have caused her to take a greater interest in her people and her masterly of their customs, way of life and language.

I do not understand the previous reviewer comments but for me, I found the book very easy to read. In reflection, actually a fast reading book due to its length.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cleopatra - a shrewed AND pretty queen, September 15, 2010
This review is from: Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) (Hardcover)
Cleopatra is so well known, some 2,000 years after her death, that it makes for good reading to discover that many tales about her life are untrue. For instance, Cleopatra did not commit suicide by letting an asp bite her. (More likely, through needles to inject poison.) The story that Julius Caesar destroyed the Alexandria manuscript-library, the most important institution of its kind in those days, is probably an exaggeration. That Cleopatra was a Roman citizen and was involved in that City's politics. Probably most important, that fore and foremost, Cleopatra was a shrewd politician, not just a beautiful woman who seduced Caesar and Antonius. Everything she did was to protect Egypt and her throne.

The role of Rome as an emerging sole superpower is reminiscent of today's political affairs: Changing sides, scandals, political corruption, bribery, proxy wars, budget crises, and the list goes on and on. One difference should be noted: Solving problems of prominent leaders who would not tow the line or presented future difficulties, was expeditiously handled by murdering them. In Egypt itself, under the Ptolomies as under the pharaohs before them, there were endless dynastic barbarities. This was mostly due to the customary incestuous marriages between royal brothers and sisters, the pretenders to the throne.

Unfortunately, the author fails to explain how Cleopatra found the time to be the queen of Egypt, raise her children, and be an expert in medicine, master many foreign languages, and even be a competent navy commander. Readers would wish for some explanation how she managed to perform all these tasks. Puzzling are the number of references that, when everything was lost, Cleopatra contemplated escaping to India with her fortune to retire there. As far as I know, in those days one did not apply for a visa as a political refugee, living opulently in another country.

My two criticisms of the book: First, the readers are inundated with names. After two millennia, the name of every architect who worked for Cleopatra is of little significance. If the author felt these names needed to appear in the book for research purposes, they could have been mentioned in footnotes not in the text itself. The book lists innumerable geographic places. Yet there are only three maps, with scant information. (For instance: The island of Cyprus, mentioned many times throughout the book, appears on the map, but without its name.)

Overall, this scholarly book is easy to read and holds one's interest.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooray for strong women!!!, May 17, 2010
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This review is from: Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) (Hardcover)
You will experience the drama of that fascinating, ancient age in this fresh look at Cleopatra. This book should be picked up not only by courses in classical history, but by Women's Studies classes everywhere. This carefully researched and scholarly history makes clear that the Hollywood version is only partially accurate - Cleopatra chose to see to it she was educated as well as any man, and evidently had the charisma to hold her own with anybody in negotations on behalf of her beloved Egypt.

It's even a great beach house read, for the right kind of people.....!

Hooray for strong women everywhere, in all times!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearing away the myths, April 25, 2010
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This review is from: Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) (Hardcover)
As a youngster, my ideas about Cleopatra were first shaped by the Liz Taylor movie. (She also surfaces as a ghoulish monster in an Anne Rice novel.) As I grew up and read more, I came to realize that her defeat at the hands of the Romans and the fact that she was a woman shaped all the myths we hold about her. Far from a scheming, sex-mad seductress, she had only two known relationships with men, and was a great intellectual scholar and able leader. This book taught me a lot more that I didn't know about a truly fascinating woman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Densely packed history, October 16, 2013
This review is from: Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) (Hardcover)
This densely packed history of the life and times of Cleopatra VII compares favorably with biographies by Stacy Schiff, Michael Grant and Joyce Tyldesly. This one is very matter of fact, perhaps lacking the verve of the more florid style of Schiff.

Roller emphasizes C's linguistic ability and extent of scholarship and culture in her court. He describes Antony's establishment of client kingdoms including Cleo in Egypt and Herod in Judea. Octavian feared the potential of A&C to turn Rome into a Hellenized kingdom. The book culminates with the Battle of Actium, followed by an aftermath ending with the suicides of Antony and Cleopatra. He thinks that the asp is largely a myth. While a strong feature of he book is the detailed information on all the minor players, there is no mention of Octavian's admiral, Agrippa.

Appendices include a chronology, family tree and photos of Cleopatra's coinage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good History, July 28, 2013
By 
Anna Dreyer (CANASTOTA, NY, US) - See all my reviews
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I recommend this book to history buffs or to anyone who is Cleopatras biggest fan. It gives good insight as well historical blood lines leading up to Cleopatras rise to the throne. Its a good read if you want to learn more about Cleopatra.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ... depiction of Cleopatra VII Philopater as not just a beautiful and intriguing woman, August 23, 2014
I feel that this is the fairest depiction of Cleopatra VII Philopater as not just a beautiful and intriguing woman, but an intellectual strategist who was able to restore Egypt to its former glory of Ptolemy III's rule. She was incredibly important to the development of the region due to her vast amounts of knowledge and skill at managing herself and others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best current biography, May 1, 2014
Don't get me wrong - I loved the Stacy Schiff biography of the Queen; Ms. Schiff made Cleopatra exciting again. Too often, recent biographies of the Queen stress how little we really know about her. Because of the paucity of historical artifacts the queen has become more of a creation of folklore and literary traditions than a true historical construct. But Roller does not leave it there; he puts together the old facts in new and exciting ways, particularly in the section regarding the Queen's heretofore unknown mother and her "Egyptian side of the family." Though the book teeters toward those scholars who emphasize what we DON'T know, Roller's insights and interpretations more than make up for the lack of new historical information. In fact, I think this is the best work about the Queen since Hans Volkmann's "Kleopatra; propaganda and politics" released in the 1950s. It's not a literary tour de force like the Schiff book was, but one whose un-showy scholarship steadily outstrips it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A different sort of biography, April 28, 2013
The author did an outstanding job of giving facts. I enjoyed reading his honesty in stating that there are some things that are unknowable. It made the facts seem more factual than other books I've read on Cleopatra.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much about Cleopatra, March 26, 2013
By 
Robertuccio (San Francisco, CA, US) - See all my reviews
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This book has a very long introduction discussing Cleopatra's lineage, taking many detours through the politics of the time.
There's finally some discussion of Cleopatra starting in chapter 3 (Cleopatra's Youth and Education) but again the narrative is mostly about politics. Out of the 8 chapters i'd say 7 are about everything else, the epilogue, appendices, notes, bibliography and index of passages cites take up the rest of the book.
I understand that this is an academic paper but I really think that the title is misleading because there's very little biography and plenty of everything else. If you are looking to learn about Cleopatra's life, this is not the book.
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Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity)
Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) by Duane W. Roller (Hardcover - April 1, 2010)
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