FAQ

Why do you study Cleopatra?

I first began to develop an interest in ancient history when I was in second grade. My social studies book at the time contained a mishmash of random historical icons on the cover. One of them was King Tut’s funeral mask. I don’t know what it was about the image that captivated me, but I was very drawn to it. I asked my teacher what it was and she told me it was “Egyptian.” It’s funny to think that there was a time before I knew what that word meant, but it was new and exciting to me.

My sister and I frequented the library after school and I made sure to ask about “Egyptian” books when I went later that afternoon. I don’t know how many books I checked out that day, but I read the entire children’s collection on ancient Egypt within several months. I then re-read a great many of them before moving on to more advanced volumes. And so, my fascination with the ancient world began.

As for my interest in Cleopatra specifically, that didn’t begin until a few years later. I had read about Cleopatra in some of the books from the library, but I had always thought of her as a traitor and an unskilled ruler. After all, she lost Egypt’s independence to the Romans, right? In retrospect, I realize that many children’s books about Egypt do not mention her beyond that single fact. So it was especially mind-boggling when my mom rented the Elizabeth Taylor “Cleopatra” for us to watch. She knew I would appreciate it, being obsessed with anything Egyptian by that point. However, the movie was not at all what I expected. I still remember asking my mom whether Cleopatra was “good or bad” throughout the film. I had expected to see an irresponsible villain, but instead saw a smart and cunning leader. This surprising turn of events made me all the more interested in her. The more I learned the more I grew to appreciate her, and I guess you could say the rest is history 😉

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to lecture about Cleopatra and her world in college. I participated in numerous academic conferences and was occasionally invited to speak about her in ancient history classes. It was always a pleasure to meet other people who had an interest in the subject. I was also exposed to many questions during the Q&A sessions at the end, questions which continue to pop up when I get asked about the Hellenistic world. The goal of this blog is to answer some of those questions and hopefully inspire others to delve deeper into the subject. Although I cannot guarantee that every question will get posted to this blog, I encourage you to contact me with any of your own inquiries. Thank you for reading this introductory post and I hope you enjoy the site!

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