How wonderful to welcome Vicky Alvear Shecter, the author of CLEOPATRA’S MOON to my blog today. Yesterday, I posted a review of her book. I absolutely loved it! Check it out HERE. (Makes you want to read it, right? Well good, because at the end of this post there will be a giveaway!)
Rome’s Hatred of Powerful Egyptian Women
Ancient Egyptian women had more autonomy and power than most women in the ancient world. They could own property, run businesses, choose their own lovers, and initiate divorces.
So it’s no wonder that Egypt—and Cleopatra as its symbol—threatened Rome and Romans in so many ways. How dare a woman hold power and rule so effectively? How dare a woman consider herself the equal of not just one but two Roman generals? How dare a woman choose her own lover/husband rather than have her sex life controlled by men?
I think Cleopatra’s audacity and brilliance rankled Romans as much as her clear gift for political negotiations. And so, “rational” Romans attacked her with an almost hysterical emotionalism, calling her a whore, a slut and an out-of-control man-eater.
Sadly, we still do this today. Ask high-school kids how they insult girls who threaten or intimidate them in some way and they’ll use Rome’s ancient tactic for instant defamation—they’ll call her a whore or slut. Yet modern scholars agree that Cleopatra was likely faithful and loyal to her Roman consorts—first Julius Caesar, then years after his death, Mark Antony.
For some reason, I always pictured the insults about her sex-life rolling off Cleopatra’s golden-threaded cape. But what, I wondered, must it have been like for her daughter to hear her mother be demeaned in this way—especially after being taken to live with the people in Rome responsible for the queen’s death?
Cleopatra Selene, the queen’s daughter, was the only one of the Cleopatra’s four children to survive into adulthood. What, I wondered, must it have been like to have such a powerful mother—and then lose her? What must it have been like to have to forge your own identity from under your mother’s incredibly long shadow?
These were the questions that inspired my historical fiction novel Cleopatra’s Moon, the story of Cleopatra’s daughter. The answers, I hope, will inspire you to read it!
Thanks for the opportunity to post on this wonderful blog!
Thanks so much, Vicky!
Now for the giveaway. I have ONE copy of CLEOPATRA’S MOON to give away to one lucky reader of my blog. Canada and the US only. To be entered, comment below with your email address and the name of your favourite powerful female from history. Tweeting/Facebooking/etc. will gain you extra entries, just let me know that you did it. Being a fan of Book Drunkard on Facebook will also gain you another entry. Contest ends on September 30, 2011. Good luck!