Biographer Stacy Schiff: Cleopatra Was a Commanding, Clever and Quick-Witted Ruler

Posted on May 14, 2011

Cleopatra A Life

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff is the author of Cleopatra: A Life. Schiff says Cleopatra was far more than just a beautiful woman. Schiff says Cleopatra was also a "commanding, very clever and very quick-witted ruler." The following excerpt is from the publisher's description of Schiff's book:

Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and--after his murder--three more with his protege. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.
Stacy Schiff also wrote an interesting article in the New York Times, called "Cleopatra's Guide to Good Governance."

Take a look:

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