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Cleopatra and Rome Paperback – March 2, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The few documented episodes of Cleopatra's life are notoriously difficult to interpret: they are shrouded not so much in mystery as in fame. She was an icon of female sexuality and political savvy in her own time, not least because of her personal relationships with Julius Caesar, Marc Antony and Octavian Augustus. Kleiner, an art historian, points out that seeming larger than life was the primary medium for politics even in the ancient world. And as they are today, ideas were communicated through spectacular means: publicly, through architecture, pageantry and sculpture, but more intimately, in dress and decoration. So rather than analyzing the meaning of objects and monuments like a coin depicting Caesar and the Ara Pacis Augustae (or the small marble "The Augustan Altar of Peace"), Kleiner uses the artifacts to reconstruct the lives of the personalities who defined the last years of dynastic Egypt and the consolidation of the Roman Empire. This contemporary chronicle is slightly distorted by the interpolation of modern works, which ought to be relegated to their own chapter, but it serves as a fascinating guide to Alexandria and Rome. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In Cleopatra and Rome, Diana Kleiner describes the unique convergence of individuals and events that shaped the period. She brings the world of the Ptolemies and ancient Rome vividly to life and offers candid sketches of the people involved in Cleopatra's complex story...Whether or not 'one inimitable person can change the world,' she certainly makes for a good story. (Christina Riggs Times Higher Education Supplement 2006-01-06)
Diana E. E. Kleiner presents Cleopatra's story as only an art historian could tell it. Beautifully illustrated and engagingly written, Cleopatra and Rome unveils Egypt's most famous queen through her portraits, monuments, and spectacles...Some of the book's most fascinating material involves Kleiner's study of imperial women. Focusing in particular on Octavia, Livia, and Augustus's daughter Julia, Kleiner demonstrates the impact Cleopatra had on these elite women's roles in both family and public life. Differences in the ways Augustus and Antony represent women associated with them on coins ingeniously provide indirect evidence of the influence Cleopatra as a female sovereign had on Antony's concept of female power...Cleopatra and Rome will be of interest and value to specialists and non-specialists alike, thanks to its fresh look at a number of well-known monuments and the clarity with which the material is presented. (Prudence Jones Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005-12-15)
In Cleopatra and Rome, Diana EE Kleiner--a professor of classics and art history at Yale--explains how the image and legend of Egypt's superstar queen lingered in the minds, and shaped the deeds, of Roman rulers...For Kleiner, Cleopatra enjoyed a long, illustrious afterlife in Roman art and culture. Women aped her style; patrons built in the Egyptian manner; poets buffed up her legendary persona. As for the real queen, she depicts not the minx of myth but a serial monogamist, politically astute, intellectually able--and far more loyal to her Roman lovers-turned-allies than they ever were to her. (Boyd Tonkin The Independent 2006-01-04)
Sovereign, siren, and spectacle during her brief lifetime (69-30 B.C.), Cleopatra's relationships to Roman leaders and to Rome itself are seductively and intelligently examined in Diana E. E. Kleiner's beautifully illustrated book...Cleopatra and Rome provides an innovative and fresh perspective on Cleopatra, both as a long-lived myth and as a world force...Kleiner's engaging presentation offers much food for thought, providing ample material for a re-evaluation of the political, social, artistic, and cultural impact of Cleopatra on her protagonists, both male and female, and on Rome. (Helena Fracchia Canadian Journal of History)
[Kleiner's] Cleopatra and Rome is engaging and provocative. It is beautifully illustrated and is accompanied by an extremely useful bibliography including sections on Cleopatra films and Cleopatra on the internet. (Michael Dixon Classical Bulletin 2006-01-01)
This beautiful work is generously illustrated, with high-quality color throughout. (H. J. Kirchhoff Globe and Mail 2009-08-01)
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Cleopatra has a reputation as a vamp, but Kleiner says there is no evidence she had affairs with anyone except Caesar, and after his death, Antony. In both cases, the men were smitten by her knowledge, and in Caesar's case, he was inspired by her building projects to make some of his own. Also in both cases, Cleopatra was performing a balancing act to protect the independence of her own nation while supporting the superpower of Rome. Antony's affair with her infuriated Rome, or at least Augustus in Rome was able to manufacture public infuriation, and went to war with Antony and Cleopatra. During the invasion Cleopatra killed herself by means of the famous asp. She probably did so to avoid being a captive in Augustus's Rome. Antony also killed himself, one story saying that he did so upon hearing of Cleopatra's suicide. "Cleopatra's death by asp, reenacted in Augustus's triumph in Rome, was instrumental in elevating her to superstar status," writes Kleiner. Augustus was never Cleopatra's lover, but he was smitten by her. Like Caesar before him, he took up urban renewal, changing the city from one of brick to one of marble. It became fashionable for the moneyed set to commission buildings and paintings in the Egyptian style. One of the most surprising battles which Cleopatra posthumously fought was that of hairstyles. She herself had a style known as the "melon", with waved sections looking more-or-less like the outside of a melon. She often wore over her forehead the _uraeus_, the rearing cobra. From this developed the classical Roman style for women, the _nodus_, a roll of hair over the forehead in pompadour-style. The hairstyle, seen repeatedly in sculptures and paintings of the time, was championed by Octavia, the older sister of Augustus and the wife Antony had abandoned for Cleopatra. Kleiner tells the story of the women and their joint efforts with their hairdressers in a chapter wittily titled "Princesses and Power Hair."
Augustus included Cleopatra in monuments, and allowed himself in depictions in such monuments to be robed in the outfits of the Pharaohs. He was merely taking up Cleopatra's image because of its inherent power. Kleiner calls upon statues, friezes, coins, temples, embossed tableware and more to show how the power game was played in the arts of the time. As befits an art historian's book on such a subject, _Cleopatra and Rome_ is beautifully illustrated with ancient art from the times, as well as interpretations of the events in Cleopatra's life by later artists, and even an obligatory still starring Elizabeth Taylor.
Highly recommended, entertaining and excellently researched by a true scholar.
Kleiner breaks down Cleo's influnce over Roman art and archiecture after her defeat and ultimate suicide in 30BC. She also presents facinating evidence of Augustus use of Cleopatra's cultural image for the images of himself and his wife, daughter, and sister. This is the first book I know of that finds an implicit connection between Octavian, Cleopatra, Antony, Octavia, and Livia.
It is well researched and well written, and perfect for a student of the Classics or Art history.