Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book Reviews: Two Powerful Women

Empress of Rome
Review by Elizabeth Speller

Published: May 10 2010 06:15 | Last updated: May 10 2010 06:15

Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia, by Matthew Dennison, Quercus Books £20, 320 pages, FT Bookshop price: £16

As the credits rolled at the start of the televised version of Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, largely based on Suetonius’s Twelve Caesars, a snake glided across mosaic imperial portraits. That the snake represented Livia, wife of the emperor Augustus, was made apparent by her central role in all that followed: seduction, plots, infanticide, matricide, and simple non-familial slaughter. Now Matthew Dennison’s rich and compelling account challenges the accepted version of Augustus’s wife as the viper in the nest.

Read review.

Book Review: Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane W. Roller
by Elinor Teele
May 10th, 2010 at 11:01 am

Demythifying Cleopatra

Pity Duane W. Roller, author of Cleopatra: A Biography. I can just imagine the initial conversation at the Oxford University Press:

“We want you to write a biography of Cleopatra, sensuous queen of the Egyptians, famed figure of ancient history.”

“Excellent, as Professor Emeritus of Greek and Latin at The Ohio State University, I’d be thrilled to delve into a world of intrigue and shifting political sands.”

“Good. But no sex, please, we’re British.”

Read review.

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