I checked to see if there’d been a really good book published in the last few decades. Then I started with what Cleopatra would have read, asking myself, “What can we know about her education?” It turns out to be a very great deal, and bizarrely, no one had written about that before.
We don't know how Cleopatra spent her days, but we do know how other Hellenistic monarchs spent their days. There has been a great amount of scholarship in the last 30 years about education in the Hellenistic world and women in the Hellenistic world. We now know how an upper-class woman was educated in her day.
Motherhood is always an act of courage.
Women enjoyed rights in Egypt they would not again enjoy for more than 2,000 years. They owned ships, ran vineyards, filed lawsuits, practiced medicine. Their husbands supported them after divorce. Their power was unprecedented.
No one in the modern world controls the wealth or territory that Cleopatra did.
I'm a sucker for lost worlds. I was nostalgic even as a child. I was happiest in my hometown library in Adams, Mass., where nothing seemed to change.
As always, an educated woman was a dangerous woman.
A rich, multi-dimensional tour of Naples, most brilliant, battered, and bewildering of cities, here fixed to the page with wit and élan. Splendid.
parenting is an exercise in unintended consequences.
Here you have an incredibly ambitious, accomplished woman who comes up against some of the same problems that women in power come up against today. Cleopatra plays an oddly pivotal role in world history as well; in her lifetime, Alexandria is the center of the universe, Rome is still a backwater.
Last Update: 9 December 2022
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