Most helpful critical review
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Readable but disappointing
on 10 December 2008
Overall I was disappointed with this book, as despite the fact that the author has an easy writing style and a lot of information to share on ancient Egyptian religion it falls on its face for me because its filled with generalisations. The text does cover the main aspects of Cleopatra's life but the bulk of the book is volumes of detail concerning Egyptian religious rituals, and, on that subject the author clearly knows her stuff. The issue for me was that after a while I found this level of detail quite annoying as the text would state its assumed that Cleopatra may have attended such a ritual or in all probability she may have or this is the type of thing she would have been exposed to - so I felt the author included the information to fill pages as not all of it seemed entirely relevant to the subject in hand.
I also did not like the fact that despite there being a huge 26 page bibliography there was no detailed index only an index per page so it was not entirely clear what was being pointed to as evidence and which statement was supposition. And if there was one phrase which was repeated on a regular basis it was ''Cleopatra as Alexander's descendant'' but this is clearly inaccurate as she may have had Greek ancestry but Alexander's biological offspring all died before puberty - and I am sure the Romans did not perceive her as such. To me this just summed up the lack of focus in some areas of the book.
So, those are the things I didn't like, what are the plus points? Well the author has a readable style, there is a lot of detail, the author manages to flesh out the characters making them seem understandably human rather than remote black and white lines on a old piece of papyrus, the detail surrounding Egypt is clearly in contrast to the Roman or should that be Octavian view of Cleopatra. I also found interesting the detail on the fate of Cleopatra's children which is not necessarily covered in other books. So, I think if you were new to the subject and interested in an overview of Cleopatra's life with a focus on Egypt and its gods, priests and rituals you would perhaps have a different perspective and may find it a totally enjoyable read.