We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Cleopatra Audiobook

Cleopatra: A Life

Regular Price:$27.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.

Though her life spanned fewer than 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties.

Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and - after his murder - three more with his Antony. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra's supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost.

In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff 's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2010 Stacy Schiff (P)2010 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

"An epic subject requires a writer of epic skill and scope, and we have a perfect pairing in Cleopatra and Stacy Schiff. Absorbing and illuminating, this new biography will endure." (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion)

"A Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer presents a swift, sympathetic life of one of history's most maligned and legendary women.... Successfully dissipating all the perfume, Schiff finds a remarkably complex woman - brutal and loving, dependent and independent, immensely strong but finally vulnerable." (Kirkus)

"Captivating...Ms. Schiff strips away the accretions of myth that have built up around the Egyptian queen and plucks off the imaginative embroiderings of Shakespeare, Shaw and Elizabeth Taylor. In doing so, she gives us a cinematic portrait of a historical figure far more complex and compelling than any fictional creation, and a wide, panning, panoramic picture of her world." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (883 )
5 star
 (276)
4 star
 (270)
3 star
 (190)
2 star
 (86)
1 star
 (61)
Overall
3.8 (494 )
5 star
 (165)
4 star
 (152)
3 star
 (106)
2 star
 (46)
1 star
 (25)
Story
4.0 (480 )
5 star
 (187)
4 star
 (162)
3 star
 (84)
2 star
 (31)
1 star
 (16)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Mary H. Crockett Dayton, Ohio 04-06-13
    Mary H. Crockett Dayton, Ohio 04-06-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not an easy read, but a memorable read."
    What made the experience of listening to Cleopatra the most enjoyable?

    This was one of my first audible experiences (I purchased the e-book version too) for my book club. It sparkled! A life-time reader, I was mesmerized by the audible version. This narrator brought it all to life...the language, the drama. This was a great first book to "read" via ears rather than eyes and I loved it!


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the research and context -- 3 months later I'm still telling people about this book. The incredible brilliance and mythology of this woman -- the magic and vibrancy of Egypt (Cleopatra) and the harsh, militaristic world of Roman conquest. (The world of Alexander and Mark Antony) We all have those places and cities that are the sensuous, heart-winging, lush playgrounds of our lives -- the lands of milk and honey and bawdy, brash larger than life, over-the-top pleasures. (Alexandria) And then there was Rome -- harsh, realities, all metal and sharp edges. Yet the basis of our modern world. I'd never heard it so clearly explained and contrasted as it was in this meticulously researched book. The concept of Cleopatra as a shrewd, brilliant leader fascinated me -- and the description of her as the 14th richest person of all time was something. One has to wonder what might have happened if Egypt's Alexandria had "won the war" -- what would have been the impact on our religion, our cultures -- our world. Really enjoyed.


    What does Robin Miles bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I loved hearing all the challenging Egyptian names of antiquity spoken so fluidly by Robin Miles. All my life I've read, but often missed the actual pronunciations of the words I've read -- I always thought hearing the words in my internal world was better than actual words. This experience is changing that perception! I love how these stories and words come to life...where was audible 50 years ago when I first read "Dick and Jane?"


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. It was far too "dense" for one sitting. Hard to get into at first so much background, and notes. But what a ride once it began...


    Any additional comments?

    While this book wasn't the easiest book to "read," it is one that has stuck with me. I learned much from the book, well go back to it in my conversations with others much in the future. Great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krystyna Hanser USA 03-11-13
    Krystyna Hanser USA 03-11-13 Member Since 2013

    Krys

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Schiff Set a Higher Bar For Biographies"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Stacy Schiff is an extraordinary scholar and a gifted writer. She knows how to tell a great tale. Having sat spellbound through her Cleopatra, I am now equally absorbed in her Vera.The readers of both books are excellent at bringing words on paper to life. I would recommend this book to everybody who thinks Cleopatra was Elizabeth Taylor and spent her life ordering servants around.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This book ranges over a large part of Roman history during Cleopatra's life, so I found some of the other protagonists, such as Ocatavian, very interesting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bonnie 03-04-13
    bonnie 03-04-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Deep & detailed, had to listen hard to keep up"

    This book was so well researched and incredibly well written. That said, I feel like I didnt start catching on to what was happening until toward the end. I presume to tell the full and complete story of Cleopatra the author had to set the scene, but there were so many other characters (with very difficult names) and so many places and events going on, I had a difficult time keeping up at first.

    I appreciate how the author does not try to sway the reader into a certain opinion about Cleopatra. Instead she gives multiple accounts of the scene (as told from various historians, some of which were eyewittnesses) and allows the reader to form their own opinion about it. The narrarator does a great job with the story, especially with the ancient Egyptian & Greco-Roman titles such as Eratosthenes, Ptolemy Philadelphus, and Mithridates.

    I very much enjoyed how the parts of the story that were unknown to me were woven into the parts of history that I am familiar with (Alexander the Great, Julius Ceasar, and King Herod). The detail used to describe the ostentation of the day left me marveling. What I wouldnt give to have seen it with my own eyes.

    The only thing that could have made this better (for me) is if there was a map to accompany it. It would have helped me sort things out in my head because 75% of the story is about them traveling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean the Urban Walker Queens, New York 02-28-13
    Jean the Urban Walker Queens, New York 02-28-13 Member Since 2013

    road show junkie

    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    117
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is not the movie story!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    A really outstanding view into an era that has been so skewered by Hollywood, it is no wonder that Stacey Schiff has to warn you 'this is not Liz & Richard'! And as much as I enjoyed the well-written history, I would have admittedly been over-whelmed by the names & locales had I been reading the words alone. Deeply rich in history, Ms Schiff blends in fact & conjecture to bring the historical figures to life. There were several times when I found myself thinking 'wait - that wasn't what I thought...'. Cleopatra was quite the trend setter of her day - a strong, powerful, intelligent & well educated being far ahead of her time - especially as a woman in a very male-oriented world. In discussions with our Book Club, we tried thinking of what modern woman could have come close to Cleopatra... and there was no peer!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The walk through time - the culmination of various historical records to piece together a patchwork of history for which there is no one source of enlightenment


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The collapse of Marc Antony - it was like Romeo & Juliet!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The Roman 'Civilization' turned out to be quite barbaric & brutish in comparison to the grace & grandeur of Alexandria & the Greeks.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth a listen - I think you'll get more out of listening than you will trying to wade through all the names & places in print

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 12-20-12
    Pamela 12-20-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent!"
    Any additional comments?

    Stacy Shiff takes what little is known of the life of Cleopatra and paints a picture so rich in detail that the reader can almost feel the breeze as we cruise up the Nile. I was mesmerized. I have a deep appreciation for a writer whose research can uncover enough small details that when put together build such a lush history. Robin Miles narration certainly adds to the hypnotic effect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. C. Mcnicholas 05-02-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A poorly written book about a fascinating person"
    Any additional comments?

    It seems as though this manuscript never left the first draft stage. One can easily imagine that sentences hastily written on index cards were simply arranged loosely by topic. Robin Miles is a fine reader, but when one is reading what are essentially flash-cards, a good voice only goes so far. The edifice of a scholarly work is completely absent, and the narrative drive of a popular history is missing as well. The result is a work that presents dubious facts (on what evidence do we know that Cleopatra read poetry more than fiction?), without actually creating a memorable character. I do appreciate the cultural history approach of creating a context for character, but don't imagine you will avoid cliches here; they flow like an endless river. . . like the Nile really. Read Stacy Schiff's other work, this one isn't her best prose

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    william F. Brereton Erie, PA United States 04-28-12
    william F. Brereton Erie, PA United States 04-28-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "good historical review"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Cleopatra to be better than the print version?

    dont know print version, but audio quite good


    What did you like best about this story?

    Clear explainatiion of complex historical events


    Have you listened to any of Robin Miles’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    have not heard before


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    no


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elizabeth United States 04-22-12
    elizabeth United States 04-22-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    58
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring"

    Very Very boring. I would not recommend this book. My bookclub selected this book and no one finished it or liked it. I am shocked that it appears so popular.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 01-20-12
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 01-20-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    87
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    65
    32
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Couldn't finish this one"

    I love historical fiction, biographies, historical non-fiction, etc. This book was a waste of time, the first audible book I just couldn't finish. It read more like a textbook, with no dialogue and 'supposedly' well-researched. However, there lots of references from historical figures about the negative sides of Cleopatra; yet the author would then go on and on about why this was inaccurate, with little to any evidence. I was extremely interested in the topic, both of Cleopatra and the time period, but was truly bored senseless. It was such a waste of a credit - sorely disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Tucson, AZ, United States 01-02-12
    Linda Tucson, AZ, United States 01-02-12

    Sericulturalist and horticulturalist, mad scientist and earth oven baker.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    50
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worst Book of 2011"

    This book was my worst read of 2011, in print or audible. I was transported back to a freshman Western Civ. class, where the grad student lecturer would rather have been back in her dorm room, cleaning her belly button lint. If there is such a thing as an afterlife, Cleopatra is looking on like she just smelled something bad. Bad presentation of a sketchy narrative is the nicest thing I can say about this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.