Cleopatra and Antony

Cleopatra and Antony

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In 44 bc, Julius Caesar was murdered on the Ides of March. His mistress, Cleopatra of Egypt, fled back to Alexandria with their little son. Mark Antony, Caesar's friend and henchman, who, according to some accounts, was already besotted by the beautiful Cleopatra, took up her son's case before the Senate. But they refused to recognize him as one of Caesar's heirs. Civil war broke out, and after the defeat of Caesar's murderers, Antony took control over the East. Summoned to his headquarters in present-day Turkey, Cleopatra made her entry at dusk on a scented, candlelit barge: and so began one of the greatest love stories of all time - an eleven-year love affair that created the ancient world's most famous celebrity couple.The affair became all-consuming and fired the lovers with the ambition to create a new order. Had they succeeded, our world today might have been very different. Filled with murder, intrigue, civil war and great battles, the tragedy of "Cleopatra and Antony" has fascinated the world for two millennia. Now Diana Preston has gone back to the original sources and delved into the real history behind the propaganda and the myth, to breathe new life into this epic love more

Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Corgi Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • col. ill
  • 0552155683
  • 9780552155687

Review Text

Historian Preston (Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima, 2005, etc.) casts Cleopatra as the fulcrum of power in the one of the world's first power couples.Before discussing the pivotal first encounter between young Cleopatra and the newly victorious Julius Caesar in Alexandria in 48 BCE, the author wades through a dense bloody history involving the Ptolemy dynasty of Egypt and the civil wars in Rome. Once the highly educated, politically astute, alluring Egyptian queen takes center stage, she commands complete attention. Preston describes her at length, even enlisting a specialist in "archaeosteology" to reconstruct her face. The author notes that Cleopatra was "probably not conventionally beautiful"; her appeal lay in her artfulness, charm, daring and shrewdness, qualities that warlike Caesar and later Antony greatly admired, and rarely saw in women. While Caesar served as her early protector, giving her a "divine heir" in the son Caesarion, Antony helped consolidate the power she needed to stabilize her reign. The two played at being godlike - Cleopatra was Isis incarnate, Antony the "new Dionysus" - and both were sensualists and fond of pomp and spectacle. Their passion for each other was driven by their shared "hunger for life," Preston asserts. Cleopatra skillfully coaxed from Antony territory concessions that nearly restored the empire of the early Ptolemies, and she proved a valuable political ally in the face of threats by Parthia and Octavian. Although Antony was criticized for losing his self-control and dignity by remaining with Cleopatra, Preston emphasizes how each fulfilled the other's "wider strategy." Had they prevailed, they might have co-ruled a vast empire. Preston closes with an analysis of how later mythmaking was particularly unkind to Cleopatra.Preston ably conveys her admiration for the Egyptian queen. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Diana Preston

Diana Preston is an Oxford-trained historian, writer, and broadcaster who lives in London. Her most recent books are Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the Lusitania (now a major BBC1 film), A Pirate of Exquisite Mind, Before the Fall-Out (chosen for the Samuel Johnson Prize longlist) and A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time. She writes with her husband Michael Preston, an historian and more

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360 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 28% (99)
4 36% (130)
3 27% (98)
2 7% (24)
1 2% (9)
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