31 October 2010
Day 218: Cleopatra
Although it got tedious at times, I rather like that Schiff reminded the reader that, despite her conquests, Cleopatra wasn't exactly a looker. Apparently even in her time a largish hooked (Greek) nose was considered unattractive. The idea that Cleopatra captivated both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony almost completely through wit ought to make her the role model of generations of women.
Granted, having a crap-ton of money probably greatly added to Cleopatra's allure, but there's hope for us plain-looking girls yet. I doubt she was actually ugly, although Schiff gives us plenty of evidence that they didn't understand her attraction, particularly the fawning behavior of Mark Antony.
Given that Roman men were probably somewhat hard pressed to find well educated and outspoken women, Cleopatra was a rarity. I know that all the men I've dated have been pleased with my intellect and humor even where my looks don't meet expectations. Danny has been with me so long that, even if he notices, he doesn't see my unattractiveness.
It's kind of nice to see this kind of narrative pop up, even if it is ancient history. So often the people who are covered seem to be either male or extraordinarily beautiful women. I rather wish there was more focus on plain or unattractive women who have accomplished remarkable things, but this is a time of year where sexy-anything costumes are available, some more disgusting than others. I think I would much rather talk to a young woman dressed up as Susan B. Anthony or Harriet Tubman than a woman dressed up as Sexy Little Orphan Annie. In fact, that last thing is so terrifying that I don't think I can continue with this post.
My review can be found on Goodreads.