National Public Radio (NPR) calls what they have in common the “other” four-letter “s” word. Not that they embody it, but that they have been labeled as such for political purposes. I have written before about this topic, particularly as it relates to the propaganda war against my favorite queen, Cleopatra.
So when the owners of the blog KidLit Women’s History Month said I could write a post for them, I hit on the topic pretty hard. Then I got worried and asked them if I needed to “dial it back” a bit.
I was delighted when Margo Tannenbaum and Lisa Taylor said, “Nope, go for it!” Margo, in fact, kindly told me that her teen daughter read it and loved it and hoped it would go viral (me too, sweetie, me too). So, visit the site and let me know what you think!
Blog: KidLit Women’s History Month. And check it out every day in March. A different kid lit author talks about her favorite female power-player in history.
(If you’re not familiar with the latest political brouhaha I’m referring to, click the NPR link above.)
I think female sexuality scares a lot of men, and as we tend to fear that which we do not understand, working that particular fear can be quite effective as a political weapon. More than 2000 years later, the tactics have not changed that much, be it infantry on the battlefield or pundits in the political arena.
With regards to Cleopatra herself, I think the propaganda war against her started before Augustus. As I remember it, Cicero was rather biting in his commentary on her, but this may have been due in large part to his feeling slighted by her during the Queen’s visit to Rome. Certainly the Roman people were fascinated by her, but the elites, being the snobs there were, remained both suspicious and disdainful of anyone one Roman.
It also seems to me, though we can never know with absolute certainty, that although Cleopatra may have initially allied herself with Caesar and Antony out of political calculation, she did in fact have real and deep affection for them both. Love even? Perhaps, but if female sexuality is a mystery then the concept of love is a mystery wrapped in a riddle confounded by emotions.
Now Vicky, about your next book starring Hannibal and Scipio …
Karen Strong says
I just finished reading your post and left a comment. Really good. 🙂