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Cleopatra and Rome /

Main Author: Kleiner, Diana E. E.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005
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Review by Choice Review

In this welcome addition on the development of Roman art, Kleiner (Yale Univ.) reveals that Cleopatra had more influence on Roman art and culture than was previously known. Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt, had affairs and children with two of Rome's leading men, Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, thus developing close ties to Rome. Her subsequent marriage to Anthony prompted Octavian Augustus to defeat her and incorporate Egypt into the empire. Cleopatra's inimitable persona, her theatricality, and her manipulation of public art to promote herself as a deity, inspired Caesar, and especially Augustus, to incorporate Egyptian elements into their public buildings, monuments, tombs, portraits, and coinage. This "Egyptomania" rippled through Augustus's family and to the public, perhaps even affecting hairstyle. The use of divine propaganda was especially appealing to Augustus, who wanted to be revered as a god. Of particular interest is a new interpretation of the Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace) in which Augustus's family represented the moral ideal, as opposed to images of Anthony and Cleopatra, whose children were viewed as illegitimate heirs to the empire. Bibliography, index, and 71 images. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Comprehensive collections; all levels. R. M. Cooke Florida Gulf Coast University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The few documented episodes of Cleopatra's life are notoriously difficult to interpret: they are shrouded not so much in mystery as in fame. She was an icon of female sexuality and political savvy in her own time, not least because of her personal relationships with Julius Caesar, Marc Antony and Octavian Augustus. Kleiner, an art historian, points out that seeming larger than life was the primary medium for politics even in the ancient world. And as they are today, ideas were communicated through spectacular means: publicly, through architecture, pageantry and sculpture, but more intimately, in dress and decoration. So rather than analyzing the meaning of objects and monuments like a coin depicting Caesar and the Ara Pacis Augustae (or the small marble "The Augustan Altar of Peace"), Kleiner uses the artifacts to reconstruct the lives of the personalities who defined the last years of dynastic Egypt and the consolidation of the Roman Empire. This contemporary chronicle is slightly distorted by the interpolation of modern works, which ought to be relegated to their own chapter, but it serves as a fascinating guide to Alexandria and Rome. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved