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Cleopatra of Egypt:
From History to Myth
Edited by Susan Walker & Peter Higgs

Hardcover | 2001 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691088358


Fabled for her sexual allure and cunning intelligence, Cleopatra VII of Egypt has fascinated generations of admirers and detractors since her tumultuous life ended in suicide in 30 B.C. The last of the Ptolemaic monarchs who had ruled Egypt for three centuries, Cleopatra created her own mythology. She became an icon in her own lifetime and a legend after her death.

This lavishly illustrated catalogue coincides with a major international exhibition celebrating images of Cleopatra. It explores how she was depicted during her own era, in works ranging from coins to life-size sculpture. Exciting new discoveries are featured--including seven Egyptian-style statues believed to represent Cleopatra, and two portraits probably commissioned while she was living in Rome with Julius Caesar. The book also examines interpretations of Cleopatra from the Renaissance to modern times, as seen in paintings, ceramics, jewelry, plays, operas, and film. In addition, recent archaeological finds from Alexandria (Cleopatra's capital) and from Rome illustrate aspects of life in Cleopatra's day.


Palazzo Ruspoli, Rome
October 12, 2000-February 25, 2001

The British Museum, London
April 12-August 28, 2001

The Field Museum, Chicago
October 20, 2001-March 2, 2002


"A hefty work of lively expertise and sumptuous . . . illustrations."--Judith Thurman, The New Yorker

"She was, of course, the greatest seductress the world has ever seen. . . . It is hard to think of any ingredient that her story does not have. She was an intellectual, wrote books, took her lover to her library and read rare manuscripts to him for the pleasure of it. . . . She spoke nine languages fluently; she was a capable and efficient ruler as well as a flamboyant one. . . . Perhaps the most compelling conundrum about the queen, though, is what did Cleopatra look like? . . . We have images in our minds of a slim, dusky enchantress, Egyptian straight hair, the headdress of cobras above darkly kohled eyes. The truth is hard to establish; but it is certainly different from that."--Julian Champkin, Sunday Times Magazine (London)

"There is enough evidence here of Cleopatra's own image creation to demonstrate that, if we find her hard to know, it is not only because the truth about her has been overlaid by 2000 years worth of erotic and racist fantasy, but because she herself was such a protean and ingenious self publicist."--Lucy Hughes-Hallet, Time Literary Supplement

"[A] lavish catalog. . . . The historical and legendary Cleopatra VII is brought to life through 394 objects from 35 museums and private collections in Africa, Europe, and North America."--Library Journal

"Cleopatra of Egypt will be a welcome addition to the library of any Cleopatra enthusiast. The volume is beautifully produced and the images are gorgeous. . . . [It] succeeds in bringing its audience into the world of Cleopatra with thorough analysis of the ancient evidence and plenty of helpful background information."--Prudence J. Jones, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"This sumptuously illustrated catalog [is a] . . . browsable homage to one of the most intriguing figures in all of antiquity. . . "--Booklist

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Copublished with the British Museum

File created: 3/10/2015

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