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Why Cleopatra still matters

Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction author Stacy Schiff has received wide praise for her new biography of Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. “Cleopatra: A Life” explores the political intrigue, opulence and murder that filled the queen’s life. But much of what we think we know about her is untrue.  Far from the image of Cleopatra as the legendary seductress, Schiff redefines her as a politically resourceful strategist who allied herself with the powerful roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Antony in the hopes of securing her empire’s continued existence.

Schiff recently sat down with Jon Meacham to talk about our “wonderful misconception” of the idea Cleopatra, money as the ultimate aphrodisiac, and the lessons from her life that apply to today’s women in power.

Plus: Check out this First Look video with the author.


  • Dick Koral

    fascinating, as one would expect. However, the lady being interviewed speaks so fast that I, an old man, cannot hear every word. Channel 14 ought to urge its interviewees to slow down a bit.

  • Darlene Swint

    How could she be so sure Cleopatra was pure Greek, Cleopatra was born some hundred of years after Alexandra the Great ruled, I’m sure she had to be of mixed race (Greek, Egyptian, African), and don’t you think she considered herself Egyptian not Greek