Book Review: “Cleopatra: A Life” by Stacy Schiff

This is an interesting book about the life of an Egyptian empress, the last one of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty. Her name conjures up an image a seductive woman with power and wealth. I learned about the strange in-breeding and infighting of the Egyptian royal family. Also the author glamorizes her love affair with Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony and bearing children to both of them. She definitely possessed enough wits and courage to govern a country for over 20+ years and its most prosperous time. It’s hard to tell whether her affair with the two roman emperors were ones of true love or survival necessity but one must admire her diplomacy and ability to maintain peace with the big neighbor while managing prosperity in her own country. At the end, she committed suicide after Mark Anthony’s suicide, which follows the defeat by Octavian.

This book based the Cleopatra stories on several sources and came up with the “best” probable account. After more than 2000 years, Cleopatra remains one of the many figures that seem forever intriguing because she’s really one of a kind.