With Dr. Eireann Marshall
The charismatic and ostentatiously clever Cleopatra VII was vilified in Augustan literature for the spell she cast over two of Rome’s most powerful leaders, Caesar and Antony, as well as her wealth and power. The only Ptolemy to speak Egyptian, Cleopatra was as erudite as she was an accomplished politician. Plagued by sibling rivalries, she skilfully positioned herself on the Egyptian throne through her relations first with Caesar, to whom she bore Caesarion who was crowned Ptolemy XV after the Ides of March. In the turmoil brought about by the assassination of Caesar, Cleopatra forged a political alliance with Antony, which resulted in one of the best remembered liaisons from antiquity. Her fate was sealed with their loss at the hands of Octavian at the Battle of Actium, after which she was represented by writers as an existential threat to Rome quelled by the traditional Octavian, who restored gender norms and world order. A powerful woman, she was an object of fear rather than admiration.