The Search For Cleopatra by Michael Foss
The Search For Cleopatra: The True Story Of History’s Most Intriguing Woman is an interesting look at who Cleopatra was. The book begins by looking at the history of the Ptolemies in ruling Egypt and what their policies were. They kept their family line secure by inbreeding, although neither husbands nor wives felt they needed to be “exclusive.” The Ptolemies worked at mixing Greek ideas with the traditions of Egyptian life and practice. It was into this atmosphere of governing tyranny, Egyptian culture and sexual manipulation that Cleopatra VII - all the queens in this dynasty were named Berenice, Arsineo or Cleopatra - was born.
“Romans wrote that Rome, the city of conquerors, had feared only two people: Hannibal and Cleopatra.” At times, this book seems to be more about Rome than Egypt, but that is because Cleopatra realized that for Egypt to remain independent and free, she had to keep on Rome’s good side. She became a sexual lover of Julius Ceasar for a time and had a son by him. In time he moved on, and she seduced Mark Antony, who became oppressed with her to his own ruin.
Cleopatra went out of her way to win the local Egyptians to her side. She worked on identifying herself with the Egyptian gods. The unruly citizens of Alexandria - one of the greatest cities of the ancient world - never did approve of her. Cleopatra lived for a season in Rome, but she had many political enemies who thought this Eastern witch was controlling their leaders.
This an interesting book for anyone interested in the world events leading up to the birth of Christ, although the book does not mention Christianity. Cleopatra and Mark Antony died about 26 years before Jesus was born. Sometimes we forget that Jesus was born into a real world of struggle. The so-called 400 Silent Years between the Old and New Testaments were full of activity. They were only “silent” because there was no prophetic Word from God during that time.
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