The Romans regarded her as ‘fatale monstrum’, a female Saddam Hussein. Pascal said the shape of her nose changed the history of the world. Shakespeare and Tiepolo (and Elizabeth Taylor) portrayed her as an icon of tragic beauty. But who was Cleopatra, really?She was the last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty of Ptolemies who had ruled Egypt for three centuries. Highly educated (she was the only one of the Ptolemies to read and speak ancient Egyptian as well as the court Greek) and very clever (her famous liaisons with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony were as much to do with politics as the heart), she steered her kingdom through impossibly taxing internal problems and against greedy Roman imperialism. Stripping away our preconceptions, many of them as old as her Roman enemies, Joyce Tyldesley uses all her skills as an Egyptologist to give us a rich picture of a country and its Egyptian queen in this magnificent biography.