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A Sphinx Revisited

Margaret M. Miles

Publication Year: 2011

Cleopatra—a brave, astute, and charming woman who spoke many languages, entertained lavishly, hunted, went into battle, eliminated siblings to consolidate her power, and held off the threat of Imperial Rome to protect her country as long as she could—continues to fascinate centuries after she ruled Egypt. These wide-ranging essays explore such topics as Cleopatra’s controversial trip to Rome, her suicide by snake bite, and the afterlife of her love potions. They view Cleopatra from the Egyptian perspective, and examine the reception in Rome of Egyptian culture, especially of its religion and architecture. They discuss films about her, and consider what inspired Egyptomania in early modern art. Together, these essays illuminate Cleopatra’s legacy and illustrate how it has been used and reused through the centuries.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-13

Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt, still fascinates us. Her life, her reception in Rome, and the continuing interest she attracts, so many centuries after her lifetime, are subjects that have been taken up in a wide variety of fields. This book presents a set of papers that consider Cleopatra and her legacies from the points of view of scholars working in archaeology, art history, history, and literary and film stud-...

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Cleopatra in Egypt, Europe, and New York: An Introduction

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pp. 1-20

In Cleopatra (69–30 B.C.E.) we see a heroic figure, an actual, historical woman who was extraordinarily brave and astute, and as queen protected her country, extended its boundaries, and held off the threat of Rome as long as she could. Charming and passionate, she had a personality so strong that she came to repre-sent Egypt itself, symbolism that took on new meanings after she was conquered. ...

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1. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

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pp. 21-36

The legendary Cleopatra the public knows — the passionate, infinitely various woman of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and the stylized beauty of the 1930s and 1960s films — has little to do with the historical Cleopatra, and we can gain a sense of the historical woman by considering her alongside her predeces-sors, the earlier Ptolemaic queens. Such an account of the last Cleopatra, who ...

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2. Cleopatra in Rome: Facts and Fantasies

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pp. 37-53

The fascination of Cleopatra continues to cast a spell on the public imagination. Few, if any, figures from antiquity have so wide a name-recognition.1 Popular books, novels, movies, and television specials that feature this ruler of Egypt appear with regularity and can count on a large market for their wares. The subject, of course, entranced even Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw who produced two very different but still enthralling...

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3. Dying Like a Queen: The Story of Cleopatra and the Asp(s) in Antiquity

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pp. 54-77

The sultry actress Barbara Stanwyck never played the role of the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. The accomplished director, Howard Hawks, best known today for his light comedies like Bringing up Baby (1938) and His Girl Friday (1940) and suspenseful film-noirs like To Have and Have Not (1944) and The Big Sleep (1946), never made a film about ancient Rome. But in their most famous collaboration, ...

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4. Cleopatra, Isis, and the Formation of Augustan Rome

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pp. 78-95

The English poet laureate Ted Hughes’ poem Cleopatra to the Asp succinctly captures the essence of Cleopatra’s Egypt as a potent influence on the formation of Augustan Rome. This essay investigates the historical basis for that influence, part of the stimulus for the Augustan remodeling of the Roman Republic into the Principate. Whether this modeling was deliberate or unintentional is not my ...

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5. Love, Triumph, Tragedy: Cleopatra and Egypt in High Renaissance Rome

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pp. 96-131

In the 1963 film version of Cleopatra, the part of Julius Caesar is played by the suave British stage and screen actor, Rex Harrison (1908–90).1 Seeing the film on the big screen at the symposium that inspired these papers, I was once again impressed by the urbanity and worldliness that this fine performer brought to the role. His sure touch is missed in the second part of the film, where the ...

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6. The Amazing Afterlife of Cleopatra’s Love Potions

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pp. 132-149

The death of Elizabeth I of England in 1603 may help to explain northern Europe’s sudden resurgence of interest, in the early seventeenth century, in a very different queen, Cleopatra of Egypt.1 In London, for example, Samuel Daniel “newly altered” his tragedy Cleopatra for performance and republication in 1607; William Shakespeare followed with his own Antony and Cleopatra, first performed in 1608.2 Meanwhile, German...

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7. HRH Cleopatra: The Last of the Ptolemies and the Egyptian Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

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pp. 150-170

Because ancient Greek and Roman subjects make up the majority of the four hundred and eight paintings produced and numbered by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, he has long been known as the “painter of the Victorian vision of the ancient world.”1 Only twenty-six of his paintings are linked to Egypt, most of them from early in the artist’s career, when Egyptian topics were of special inter-...

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8. Glamour Girls: Cleomania in Mass Culture

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pp. 171-194

While Elizabeth Taylor was in Rome shooting the spectacular Hollywood epic Cleopatra, women’s magazines began to advise their readers how to create “a new Egyptian look” whose models were Nefertiti and Cleopatra, Egypt’s two most iconic queens.1 An article in Look magazine for 27 February 1962 predicted:Superimpose two such famous glamour girls as Elizabeth Taylor and Cleopatra, ...

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9. Every Man’s Cleopatra

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pp. 195-207

The title of this essay, borrowed from John Dryden’s All for Love(4.299), should suffice to explain my intention: I am concerned less with the historical Cleopatra than with the many Cleopatras different epochs have created to embody their own fantasies and desires. Leaving aside for the moment ancient Latin and Greek authors, my story could begin appropriately with Françoise de Foix, the ...

Epilogue: Cleopatra: The Sphinx Revisited

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pp. 208-212


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pp. 213-232


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pp. 233-234


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pp. 235-238

E-ISBN-13: 9780520950269
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520243675

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2011