Video: Cleopatra

Cleopatra VII of Egypt (69-30 BC) was the last of a dynasty that went back 300 years and is arguably one of the most famous women in history. Although best known for her relationship with the Roman commander Mark Antony and her eventual suicide that caused her kingdom to be taken over by the Romans, and presented in popular culture as one’s of the world’s great seductresses who let her personal needs interfere with her ability as a leader, she was in fact a highly educated woman who skillfully ruled her kingdom in the face of growing Roman power. She was an accomplished linguist, published author, and naval commander, and the most capable leader that Egypt had seen in 200 years. Even her well-known relationships (not only with Antony, but Julius Caesar) were carefully chosen connections with the most powerful Romans of the era, attempts to salvage her kingdom and produce heirs. But because she lost to the Romans, since virtually the day of her death she has been depicted as an evil, promiscuous, and dangerous woman. In reality, her ideas of monarchy were highly influential in the developing Roman Empire, and she was worshipped as a cultic figure in Egypt into late antiquity. The lecture will dispose of some of the myths about Cleopatra and present the real queen as one of the most important rulers in ancient history.

Duane Roller earned his BA and MA degrees from the University of Oklahoma, followed by a PhD from Harvard. A widely acclaimed classical scholar, he taught for many years at Ohio State, where he is currently Professor Emeritus of Greek and Latin. In addition to his Cleopatra biography, he has written Through the Pillars of Herakles and The Building Program of Herod the Great. Praising the Cleopatra book, one reviewer wrote that Professor Roller “deftly disentangles the historical queen of Egypt from her later legendary selves. The real Cleopatra emerges in all her many sided splendor, with some surprises for us all.”