by Jehan Madhani.
It’s college midterm season: the air is colder, the days are shorter, and our anxiety increases as we acknowledge that the halcyon days of early fall term are well behind us. Nevertheless, if only for our own psychological well-being, we should all continue to find time to read for pleasure — to quote Charles de Montesquieu, “I have never known any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve.”
This week, I read Stacy Schiff’s new historical biography of “Cleopatra: A Life,” centered on the most famed Egyptian queen and identifiable woman of classical antiquity. She has been a topic of innumerable movies, plays, histories, and even advertising campaigns. Yet, from a historian’s perspective, all this attention may be rather perplexing, as very little contemporary information about her has survived to the modern day, and much of what does survive is unflattering. Read more of this article »