Cleopatra VII (69-30 BC) Egyptian queen (of Macedonian descent), last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. Daughter of Ptolemy XII, she ruled with her two brother-husbands, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, both of whom she had killed,and with her son Ptolemy XV or Caesarion (44-30). This biography concentrates on the fascinating aspect of Cleopatra’s ever-shifting identity. A master of self-presentation, she was the first to craft for herself an image or, to be precise, a number of images. Depending on the audience, she might present herself as a goddess, a political leader, or an alluring and exotic woman. Roman statesmen likewise manipulated Cleopatra’s image for their own political ends. The tension embodied in our sources for Cleopatra’s life make her story especially captivating. The author’s approach to the biography focuses on the ancient sources, but dies not ignore the fascinating afterlife Cleopatra’s story has experienced. The accounts of her life, which were written by contemporaries and even acquaintances, will offer the reader a sense not only of Cleopatra, but also of the literature and historiography of the time. Ancient sources include both the historical - Plutarch, Suetonius, Cassius Dio, Julius Caesar, Appian, and Velleius Paterculus - and the literary - Horace, Vergil, Lucan, and Ovid. Documentary evidence from inscriptions also are important. In addition, texts like Cicero’s Letters provide some real-time snapshots of Cleopatra. The biography is illustrated in full color and produced to the usual high standards of the Life&Times series.
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