Berenice II and the Golden Age of Ptolemaic Egypt
Oxford University Press, 2014 - 270 pagine
A mother of six, immensely wealthy and ambitious, Berenice II, daughter of King Magas of Cyrene and wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes, came to embody all the key religious, political, and artist ideals of Ptolemaic Alexandria. Though she arrived there nearly friendless, with the taint of murderaround her, she became one of the most accomplished and powerful of the Macedonian queens descended from the successors of Alexander the Great. Rather exceptionally, she was at the center of a group of important poets and intellectuals associated with the Museum and Library, not the least of whichwas Callimachus, the most important poet of the age. These men wrote poems not just for her, but about her, and their eloquent voices projected her charisma widely across the Greek-speaking world.Though the range of Berenice's interests was impressive and the quantity and quality of the poetry she inspired unparalleled, today she is all but unknown. Catullus, who translated Callimachus' "Lock of Berenice" into Latin in the first century BCE, spread her fame in Rome and beyond, but though itmakes a passing reference to her strength of character and capacity for action, overall it presents her as someone more innocent and therefore less interesting than she actually was. This positioning of Berenice as a weepy ingenue was calculated to introduce her as a virtuous bride and associate herwith traditional Greek concepts of ideal womanhood. That Berenice II colluded in these efforts, and embraced their goals, is an indication of her sophistication and an invitation to look with greater care at the available evidence for her life and times. Though what we have from history is scatteredand uneven, Dee L. Clayman's interdisciplinary approach presents a woman who was more powerful and fascinating than we had previously imagined.Berenice II and the Golden Age of Ptolemaic Egypt offers a portrait of a woman who had access to the cultural riches of both Greece and Egypt and who navigated her way carefully through the possibilities that these assets presented to her, ultimately using them to accrue unprecedented honors thatwere all but equal to those of the king. There is much to offer both scholars and students in this sophisticated portrait of a formidable player in the 200-year power struggle that followed the death of Alexander the Great.
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