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Cleopatra's Daughter

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Member Reviews

This book made me cry! But in a good way.

I only found out about the existence of Cleopatra Selene early last year while reading a book about Roman North Africa (because everyone forgets). To not only learn that she existed, but survived her three brothers was a shock. Add to that her eventual success as a Queen and technical continuation of the Ptolemaic dynasty will send a thrill through any ancient history lover.

This book is beautifully written, and accessible to all with an interest in this character and period of history. Draycott manages to provide all the relevant backstory, a who's who of Rome and Egypt at the time in order to show us the significance of Cleopatra Selene's survival.

I have and will continue to recommend this book to everyone and anyone. So insightful and well-constructed even with scant sources available since she was a woman, but her story is captured and told perfectly in this gem of a biography.

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A rich, well-researched biography of a woman in the ancient world who deserves a lot more recognition! For a woman who's life started in such a tumultuous position she was able to thrive and become Queen in her own right. I've always had a fascination with her story, a curiosity about what might have happened in her life, and Jane Draycott's book scratches that academic itch splendidly.

At times it feels like the book feels more like a history of the time period as opposed to Cleopatra Selene herself, but Draycott manages to relate all of the information back to her - through archaeological findings and giving readers to question what could her life have been like? Each chapter is flush with information while also acknowledging that, sometimes, we just might not know - but this is our best estimation.

Draycott writes in a way that is captivating and this is definitely a biography which is greatly important for anyone interested in the Romans and ancient Egypt to read!

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⭐⭐⭐⭐ -- This cover 🙌🏻

I am hugely fascinated by anything about ancient civilizations & history. Especially Egyptian and Roman. You could say it is in my blood. 😉 The author did a good job of making this an easy and entertaining read. Sometimes book like this can be dry and uninspired. That was not the case with this one. The only issue I had with it was that so very little in known about Cleopatra Selene that most of the second half of the book is just speculation about what might have happened. It wasn't a huge issue for me, and certainly not the fault of the author. There is just very little known about her. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I still really enjoyed the book.

**ARC Via NetGalley**

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I really enjoyed this book on one of history's more neglected personalities. Overshadowed by her more famous mother, Cleopatra Selene lived in most interesting times - a period when Egypt, a mighty empire in its own right, came into conflict with another stronger nation whose imperical aspirations would dominate both the region and her life.

Draycott utilises what is readily available - archaeological evidence, historical documents and contemporary histories - to flesh out the life of this cultured and politically astute woman. However, as with many women throughout history, actual, verifiable evidence is often lacking, making the retelling more general than specific. Many women are often overshadowed by either famous parents, siblings or marriage partner, and Cleopatra Selene is one. As a result, Draycott uses more generalised knowledge to re-imagine what her life may have looked like - and that is fine, as long as this is not taken for actual fact.

It is a worthy tome to pick up if this is your area of interest or if long lost historical women are on your research radar.

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The niche interest every Cleopatra/Antony shipper gets into at some point: their daughter who somehow did not make her mark in pop culture. Sadly, we still don't know enough about her to fill an entire biographical book with it, so a lot of the "information" Draycott gives are mostly assumptions based on general knowledge of day-to-day life in antiquity. The writing isn't the most engaging, either... the numerous names thrown around make it heard to keep track of events. In the end, the most entertaining part wasn't about Cleopatra Selene's life... but once again the introductory chapter about her notorious parents.

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Wow found this do interesting….. The first biography of one of the most fascinating, and unjustly neglected, female rulers of the ancient world: Cleopatra Selene. Princess, prisoner, African queen – and surviving daughter of Cleopatra VII.

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why aren’t we talking more about Cleopatra Selene?

This is the first biography *ever* on Cleopatra’s daughter, written by the fantastic Jane Draycott (who has also written pioneering articles and books on disability and prosthetics in the #ancientworld - she’s one to keep an eye on). If you’re interested in #ancienthistory , #egyptiannhistory, #cleopatra , #womeninhistory , I mean, the list goes on - as far as I’m concerned, if you’re here, you’ll enjoy this book.

As with Cleopatra, we have a skeletal outline of Cleopatra Selene’s life, but nothing with total clarity. We don’t know what she really looked like, what she thought or felt, but we do know she was intelligent and determined enough to not only survive, but prosper in her tumultuous position as Cleopatra’s daughter in the xenophobic, early Roman Empire.

Draycott offers an in-depth, holistic interpretation of Cleopatra Selene’s life. She doesn’t speculate, and she writes an empathetic history without bias (unlike many other authors of Cleopatra and family). For example: “If there is any truth in this…” - she acknowledges the discrepancies in the history and sources surrounding Selene (there’s a fully appendix of translated source passages, fyi, which is #dreamy ), and provides the reader with all possible outcomes and alternatives without passing judgement.

Where gaps occur in Selene’s story, Draycott bridges these with a wealth of detailed and authentic context: you are given the full story of Cleopatra and her role in Egyptian history, a thorough account of the interactions between Ancient Egypt snd Ancient Rome, Cleopatra’s relationships with Caesar and Antony, Cleopatra Selene’s upbringing, her marriage to Juba II, and her role as queen.

Draycott’s writing really leaves you thinking, and she offers such a balanced and *up-to-date* voice for #ancientrome as a whole that I can’t thank her enough. She reminds us that marriage in Ancient Rome was viewed as a relationship of mutual respect. She discusses the severely underrated (in contemporary trade non-fiction, like this volume) poetess Sulpicia, who was a contemporary of Cleopatra Selene (who, actually, would have been a patroness of a circle of poets, interestingly). And then there’s her charming narrative regarding Selene and Juba, their upbringing and relationship, and their similarly devastating and dynamic lives in the hands of the Roman Empire.

Ultimately, Draycott’s writing is nuanced, subtle, and refreshing. Finally, someone has done Cleopatra, and Cleopatra Selene, justice.

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Having researched Cleopatra Selene myself I was thrilled to get a copy of this. It’s is a brilliant book, well researched, well written and full of fascinating detail about a truly amazing woman. I highly recommend.

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An incredibly detailed exploration of the history of Cleopatra an her daughter, Cleopatra Selene. I didn’t know much of anything about them beforehand and I’ve now been able to take away so much insightful and fascinating information. It got slightly confusing trying to keep track of all the different names as so many people were named after their parents or ancestors but that was out of Draycott’s hands. This book would have benefitted from a family tree, though. I’d love to have had a visual of how these convoluted families were comprised from multiple marriages.
I really enjoyed this book and learning about a subject that was new to me. Cleopatra and Cleopatra Selene were impressive and admirable women and their lives full of politics, power and the shadows of their ancestors. Anyone interested in history and the women who shaped the world should get their hands on this book, pronto.

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A fascinating book about a woman who had very important parents but was forgotten. She was a remarkable character and her story is very interesting.
The book is well researched, informative and entertaining.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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Of all the rulers who dealt with the Roman empire, Cleopatra has to be the most infamous. Her doomed love affair with Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), her lavish banquets & immense wealth were the subject of gossip even during her lifetime. What of their children, especially her only daughter? What do we know about Cleopatra Selene's life after the death of her parents?

It seems that following the loss of her parents, Cleopatra Selene also lost both her brothers, possibly to childhood disease (although some Roman writers put the blame for Alexander Helios's death firmly on Augustus, as well as his disposal of their older half brother, Caesarion). She grew up within the Emperor's close family, most probably raised by Antony's Roman wife (& Augustus's sister), Octavia. She married another heir from a conquered country, Juba II, & they ruled client kingdom Mauretania together for two decades. They had at least two children, but we only know the name of one, Ptolemy, who became king after his father's death but was murdered at the behest of Caligula, who was Emperor at the time.

The author themselves admit that, following her marriage, information about Cleopatra Selene's life tails off. We don't know exactly when she died or what caused her relatively early death. Unfortunately due to this dearth of verified information, I felt as if I didn't really know much more about Cleopatra Selene than before I started reading. I also found it a little dry to read at times. Mine seems to be an outlier opinion though so don't let it put you off.

My thanks to NetGalley & publishers, Head of Zeus/Apollo, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

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Did my best to get into this book as I have always been fascinated about the various civilisations of "Egypt" and its persona but I failed. Whilst appreciating the amount of research that has gone into this volume, for some reason, it just did not fire my imagination and so, a third of the way through, I have moved on.

For this reason, my 3 Star rating should be seen as a neutral vote as I am the odd one out here.

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I knew nothing about Cleopatra VII, Cleopatra Selene - the daughter of Anthony and the more famous Cleopatra Queen Of Egypt, before coming into this. And coming out, I know a lot more, but only in as much as Jane Draycott has been able to thread the scantest of sources. Like a number of the Women's Histories I have read this year, there is a lengthy caveat in the introduction as to quite how little evidence there is. And in this case we are talking about the daughter of a Queen, the daughter of a ruler of Rome and someone who would latterly be a queen in her own right of Mauretania. The subtitle of the book is "Egyptian Princess, Roman Prisoner, African Queen" which sums it up nicely, though the work Draycott has to do to flesh out each of these periods is not inconsiderable,

Whilst there were plenty of Roman historians whose work has been preserved they were singularly uninterested in female protagonists except for how they interact with the male protagonists of the histories. So Cleopatra Selene's mother (Cleoptra VII) is mentioned a lot, first for her affair with Julius Caesar and them Mark Anthony. Cleopatra Selene is mentioned as a daughter (twin daughter) but by they time she reaches an age her mother is dead and she has been fostered into a ROman family. This is the shakiest part of the history, Draycott knows who fostered her, and has some idea of the life she could have led but it is hard to say if she was being brought up as a slave (as the title suggests) or as another child. Once she makes her match with Juba and becomes Queen of Mauretania Roman historians lose nearly all interest - though sources shift to those which have survived from Mauretania itself. ANd its hard to flesh out a life from brief court documents, some coins and a general sense of how the country changed.

In the end Draycott's main aim is to get everything in one book, to flag up Cleopatra Selene's broad life and importance. After all there are numerous busts and depictions of her mother that could actually be her (they looked similar and had the same name after all). There's almost a plea for people to come in and fictionalise these blanks as they have done with her mother - just to provide more female historical figures to balance all the men. You can sense her own frustration with the blanks, but she never crosses the line into her own fictions. Cleopatra Selene existed, and Draycott wants everyone to know there wasn't just one Cleopatra worth knowing.

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This was an interesting read. This biography not only deals with the life of Cleopatra Selene, but also with ancient Rome in general. Since so little is known, the author built a biography based on rather shaky foundations. It is an achievement for sure.

This was fairly easy to read and mostly kept me engaged throughout. The author never stated any of her conclusions or suggestions as fact, but I thought it well put together. Her suggestions made sense and made for a surprisingly readable history. This biography deals with a time period I know so little about and that was exactly what made this interesting to me. We all think we know about Antony and Cleopatra, but how much do we actually know? How many of us actually knew about Cleopatra Selene, their daughter?

Overall, I enjoyed the read. It was well put together and meticulously researched. It was clear how much time the author put into this and how much she cared about getting Cleopatra Selene’s storyacross. I learned some fascinating things about Roman and North African history and got to know some key players I had known next to nothing about. A good read all round.

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What a fascinating tale of intrigue. Like most people I knew of Cleopatra but had never thought about any children that she may have had. Cleopatra Selene was one amazing woman with a difficult and unusual history. This was a very interesting read and not like lots of historical books just facts. Jane Draycott has done a lot of research and presents the topic in a very readable way.

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Almost everyone knows who Cleopatra is - the infamous Queen who controversially had relationships with two Roman Emperors and was the last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. The children she left behind, however, are less well known, and Draycott brings Cleopatra’s only daughter, Cleopatra Selene, to life in a carefully researched and gripping book. I wanted to pace myself when reading, but I ended up getting so stuck into it that it only took me three days to go from cover to cover! This was probably due to the brilliant writing style; Draycott writes factually and in an uncomplicated way that makes the book so easy to read and be utterly absorbed in Cleopatra Selene’s life.

Straight away, we’re introduced to the world as Cleopatra Selene would’ve known it; Draycott gives us vivid descriptions of Alexandria, Rome, and other ancient cities that Cleopatra Selene would have visited or lived in. The lives of people she would’ve interacted with are explored, as well as the events (both domestic and historic) that she would’ve either been involved in or certainly aware of.

Much of Cleopatra Selene’s life has to be assumed, as little contemporary evidence was recorded, however Draycott uses the sources available to fill in the gaps convincingly and in a very accessible way. She also explains the social and political background when appropriate, which is extremely helpful to someone who has little prior knowledge of this era and the people who lived through it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the legacy that Cleopatra left behind in her daughter. I’m definitely buying a copy for my bookshelf!

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Cleopatra Selene is an historical figure who should be much better known, particularly by young women of colour who look for someone they can personally identify and engage with in the historical record. [loc. 125]

I was only vaguely aware of the existence of Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony: I hadn't appreciated the arc of her life, from Egyptian princess to Roman prisoner to African queen. Draycott's biography, whilst admittedly a 'qualified reconstruction' rather than a rigorous examination of historical evidence, is an eminently readable account of the known facts, and the probable truths, of Cleopatra Selene's life. While there is little information about her childhood, there is ample information about aristocratic children in Rome around that time; though there are no records of her life in Alexandria, archaeological and historical evidence allows Draycott to describe city life in the first century BCE.

After the deaths of their parents, Cleopatra Selene and her brothers Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphos were taken to Rome to be raised in the household of Octavia, wife to Antony and sister to Octavian whose naval defeat of Antony and Cleopatra orphaned the three children. (Caesarion, Cleopatra's son by Julius Caesar, had already been killed: if he'd lived, and the war hadn't happened, he'd have ruled with Cleopatra Selene as his sister-wife.) The two boys vanished from the historical record shortly afterwards: in Draycott's view, it's at least as likely that they contracted some disease as that Octavian had them killed. Cleopatra Selene survived, though, and at age 15 was married to Juba II of Numidia, an African prince. The two became co-rulers of the Roman client kingdom of Mauretania -- co-rulers rather than a king and his consort, evidenced by coinage issued in both their names. Cleopatra Selene died relatively young, at 35, allegedly during a lunar eclipse. Her only son, Ptolemy, ruled Mauretania with his father and then alone until he was executed by Caligula.

Draycott is keen to draw parallels between Cleopatra Selene's time and the modern world. She's careful to stress that our concepts of 'race', 'nationality' and so on aren't applicable to the ancient world: however, prejudice, appropriation and misogyny are very much in evidence both then and now. Whilst prisoner, or adoptee, in Rome, Cleopatra Selene would have been exposed to 'Egyptomania, a process of cultural appropriation whereby Egyptian motifs were reworked for this newfound Roman audience and became extremely fashionable as a result' [loc. 1933]; I was reminded of the interest in ancient Egypt sparked by Napoleon's campaign in the early 19th century. Draycott's comparisons of ancient and modern life are usually apt: I was struck by her mention, during the passage discussing the triumphal procession in which the children were paraded through Rome, of Princes William and Harry walking behind their mother's coffin. There are also references to Meghan Markle's treatment by the British press, and to the surprising popularity of Cleopatra Selene (and her romance/political alliance with Juba) on social media. While occasionally the modern-day contextualisation jars ('Antony was keen on cosplay throughout his life') it's generally well-observed and will likely make the book more accessible to younger readers, and to those without a grounding in ancient history or the classics.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance review copy, in exchange for this honest review. UK publication date is 10 November 2022.

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This book about Cleopatras daughter was illuminating and fascinating, no full dry history lessons in these pages. Although I knew that Cleopatra had at least one child I really had not thought much about it.

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I read this book in two days because Draycott smashed it with her engaging, approachable tone. Much as I love nonfiction I can sometimes get bogged down by family trees and geographical locations, but not this time! Draycott made these people come alive for me and the years dropped away. I found myself marvelling at the huge drama, machinations and politics involved in the lives of Cleopatra Selene's parents and relatives, and also noting how similar to us they must have been.

Great combination of wide sweep explaining how the territories and players were so interconnected, with small humane anecdotes.

Eye-opening book which gave new details about Cleopatra and introduced me to her daughter, a woman I'd never considered before.

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Cleopatra's Daughter was an entertaining read. Given the lack of available information on Cleopatra Selene, there was a lot of speculation in certain areas, but the author acknowledged this and tried to fill in the gaps with 'likely' scenarios based on what is known in general of the period. The text was supplemented by some good images, and the prose read well, telling the story in an interesting manner that makes the book accessible to the general reader as well as the scholar. If you are interested in history of this period, it's well worth a read. It gets four stars from me.

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