Friday, August 26

Book Review: The Egypt of Cleopatra by TD van Basten

Author: T.D. van Basten
Title: The Egypt of Cleopatra
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: ebook
First Published: November 29th 2015
Where I Got It: My Shelf (Amazon Freebie)

Cleopatra VII (69 BC - 30 BC), the last Pharaoh of Egypt, was a very educated, crafty, ambitious and clever woman. Her intellect and charisma – far greater than her beauty and sexuality - allowed her to keep the power for nearly twenty years by fighting against – and allying with - the greatest power at the time, Rome. Although her history was written by who defeated her and, therefore, modified according conveniences of them, there have been found, in recent archaeology researches, evidences of her intellect and achievements that portrayed her beyond her beauty and sexual power. She captivated the two greatest Romans of her time, and destroyed herself. Cleopatra was representing everything that the Romans didn't like. Not only was she a woman, but she was a woman with power. 

Cleopatra, one of the most famous of all of Egypt's illustrious Pharaohs, has become an indelible part of our understanding of ancient Egypt. What is less well known is the context of her reign - the cultural and political climate at the time of her birth, rule, and death. As a leader, Cleopatra was much more than just a seductive, beautiful temptress. She was a young woman brought to power during a tumultuous time in the history of her country, as well as during the rise of what would become one of the biggest and most powerful Empires in the history of the world: Rome. 

I have always had a huge interest in Ancient times, especially with Ancient Egypt. I took a class about the Ancient World. We spent a good deal on Ancient Egypt, but we really didn't spend ANY time on Cleopatra who was the last and most famous of Pharaohs. Isn't it funny how the last is always the best? The first and the last are the most remembered in many situations. 

I like Cleopatra for many reasons. However, I think people give her too much credit. Yes, she was beautiful and smart and charismatic. She got the throne and held onto it longer than someone else might have. The fact remains though....she lost in the end. She lost everything, so she wasn't the best Pharaoh. Sure...she gave a hell of fight, but she was the last and lost it to Rome. 

The question, now, remains. Was it hopeless the moment she got the throne? Was she doomed to fail? Or was there something else she could have done to save her throne? After reading this, I am leaning more towards the hopeless at the beginning. Egypt was in bed with Rome and Greece for a LONG time. I feel her ancestors set her up to fail ultimately. However, I do feel she made her bed too. Getting with two Romans of power didn't help matters. Especially with Antony....the man had a Roman wife who was sisters with Augustus. Yes, yes, you damn romantics...I agree you can't help who you fall in love with. BUT IT WAS FOOLISH!!!! It was truly dooming her to love Antony. 

Anyways. This was a quick read that shared more background knowledge of the Egypt Cleopatra was walking into. I truly wasn't that aware that her ancestors set her up to fail in many ways. They had caused such friction inside the country and set up too many ties with the Greeks and Romans for comfort.

Now, my only real complaint with the book were the repeats. He repeated himself a few times about the same thing. I get it. Please don't repeat. I understand trying to drive the point home, but it was tiresome at some points.

I do wish there was a small section about the clothing style of the day. I'm probably biased, but understanding the fashion choices of a time period helps understand the mindset and personality of the historical figures. 

Overall, though, this was a simplistic read even for those that do not have a great love of reading history books. This would be a good read for someone in college who wanted a quick summary. 

I shall stamp this with 3 stars. 


Blodeuedd said...

Eh maybe

Carole Rae said...

Good for a lazy day.

Anachronist said...

Anthony was supposed to be such a hottie but yes, Cleo was foolish.

Carole Rae said...

Hottie or not...don't be a fool. LOL Damn Cleo!