Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 030016534X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A masterfully told—and deeply human—story of love, politics, and ambition, Adrian Goldsworthy’s Antony and Cleopatra delivers a compelling reassessment of a major episode in ancient history.

In this remarkable dual biography of the two great lovers of the ancient world, Goldsworthy goes beyond myth and romance to create a nuanced and historically acute portrayal of his subjects, set against the political backdrop of their time. A history of lives lived intensely at a time when the world was changing profoundly, the book takes readers on a journey that crosses cultures and boundaries from ancient Greece and ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire.

Drawing on his prodigious knowledge of the ancient world and his keen sense of the period’s military and political history, Goldsworthy creates a singular portrait of the iconic lovers. “Antony and Cleopatra were first and foremost political animals,” explains Goldsworthy, who places politics and ideology at the heart of their storied romance. Undertaking a close analysis of ancient sources and archaeological evidence, Goldsworthy bridges the gaps of current scholarship and dispels misconceptions that have entered the popular consciousness. He explains why Cleopatra was consistently portrayed by Hollywood as an Egyptian, even though she was really Greek, and argues that Antony had far less military experience than anyone would suspect from reading Shakespeare and other literature. Goldsworthy makes an important case for understanding Antony as a powerful Roman senator and political force in his own right.

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Ptolemies clung on to Cyprus and Cyrenaica as well as Egypt itself, but lost most of the rest of their other territory. They avoided direct confrontation with Rome and so did not suffer the consequences of defeat. Yet the contrast to the stability of the third century BC could not have been greater. Ptolemy IV had been weak and too readily dominated by advisers. His son and grandson both came to the throne as infants. For decades the royal court became a place of intrigue as its members plotted,

rested on the River Enipeus, but the left was on an open plain and it was here that he massed most of his 7,000 cavalry, placing them under the command of Labienus, Caesar’s old legate from Gaul. Caesar matched the frontage of the enemy infantry, forming his 22,000 legionaries in three lines of cohorts, each of which was in a shallower formation. Mark Antony was given command of the left flank, resting on the river. On the very left of the formation his Ninth Legion was so depleted in numbers

siege continued into the first weeks of 47 BC. At this point a deputation of leading Alexandrians came to Caesar and begged him to send Ptolemy to them, since they were weary of the tyranny of Arsinoe and her tutor. Perhaps they were genuinely unpopular, although it is equally likely that the men involved were simply out of favour with the new queen and hoped for better from her brother. The struggle for power amongst the royal family and the elite who hoped to manipulate them never slackened for

strength. Antony had no prior connection with these units, which had been training in Macedonia since they were formed in 48 BC. Their officers had all been appointed by Caesar and both they and the men were loyal to his memory. They did not know Antony and he did not know them. When he went to meet them in October 44 BC there were angry complaints that he had done nothing to avenge Caesar’s murder. Antony promised the soldiers a special bounty of 100 denarii apiece, less than half of a

have had a population as big as 7 million. Probably half a million lived in Alexandria. A few other cities, such as Memphis, may have had populations a tenth of that size, but most were smaller. The Ptolemies were less enthusiastic about founding cities than others of the Successors, and most people lived in villages, better suited to housing an agricultural workforce. The Delta and the Nile Valley continued to be densely occupied. The Ptolemies also developed the Fayum to the west, creating

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