Antony and Cleopatra

14 CDs. 17:14 hrs. Tantor. 2015. ISBN 9781494513474. $49.99. 2 MP3-CDs. HIST
In the first century BCE, the Roman world underwent massive political and social change as it transformed itself from a regional republic based on fixed legal precedents into a vast military empire under absolute rule. Goldsworthy (How Rome Fell) uses this scrupulously researched dual biography of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra, key players in the drama, to explain how Julius Caesar and his adopted son, Octavian, changed the classical world by using and, ultimately, defeating the iconic couple at Actium. He asserts that Cleopatra, in her affairs with Antony (and earlier with Caesar), was fundamentally a creature of political expediency and that although these relationships may have been passionate, these were not the pairing of two equal leaders but that of a ruler and vassal queen. Along the way, Goldsworthy debunks popular myths, suggesting that Antony was actually a mediocre general and confirming, in great genealogical detail, that Cleopatra was, indeed, not Egyptian but the last member of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty. The narration by actor Steven Crossley is superb, driving the story with a crisp British accent.
VERDICT Highly recommended for classical and military history fans. ["With limited source material, (Goldsworthy) constructs a plausible portrait of two practical romantics whose storied love followed the path of political advantage": LJ 9/1/10 review of the Yale Univ. hc.]

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