(Another) Cleopatra Answers Proust Questionnaire

The famous Cleopatra was Cleopatra VII of Egypt, although the numbering is an invention of scholars trying to keep them straight. And she may actually have been Cleopatra VI technically, because Cleopatra V and Cleopatra VI are now believed by some scholars to be the same person. There were also Cleopatras without numerals after their names. And Cleopatras of Macedon (Phillip II's wife, Alexander the Great's sister). And ... well, if you don't think that's complicated enough, but there was only one 'real' Cleopatra ... the Cleopatra is about to be the subject of a second Proust Questionnaire.

The first was kindly done by Adrian Goldsworthy, author of the best biography of Cleopatra (and Antony) around at the moment. This second one is being done by Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of a young adult book about Cleopatra - Cleopatra Rules - (and a great blog: History With a Twist). I know there are now all kinds of FTC ruler for bloggers, to prevent bias etc, I hereby fully confess that was one of the people who read Cleopatra Rules to fact-check. I also have lunch with Adrian Goldsworthy regularly, for example this Thursday, and we had lots of chats about it whilst he was writing it. See! No bias!

Proust’s Questionnaire

  1. My Principal virtue is: 

A will of iron. And a lack of fear of snakes.

  1. The qualities a man should have are:
Respect (i.e., submission) to my superior brilliance and authority.

  1. The qualities a woman should have are:
Really, darling. You’re going to ask ME this?

  1. What I appreciate most about my friends is:
What friends? I have only subjects.

  1. My main fault is:

Again. What?

  1. My favourite thing to do is:
Surprise people. Just you wait.

  1. My idea of happiness is:
A besotted Roman general signing wealthy Roman territories over to me.

  1. My idea of misery is:
You mean, besides answering questions from non-royals?

  1. If not myself, I would like to be ...
Dido, because I would never have let that weasel Aeneas escape to found Rome. I would have crushed him to bits under my heel and laughed while doing so.

  1. The country I’d like to live in is:
My own expanded kingdom, of course, including the territories that worm Herod thinks are his. But not for long.

  1. My favourite poet is:

Darling, please. There ARE no other poets besides Homer.

  1. My favourite heroine:
Isis. She’s the real power behind Egypt. She resurrected her husband, Osiris, and fought the forces of chaos to protect the throne for her son. I will do the same for Caesarion.

  1. The character from history I despise the most is:
Hannibal, because he did not finish the job of crushing Rome (for the record, I would’ve attacked after Cannae. Just saying.).

  1. This is how I’d like to die:
By my own hand, on my own time, and on my own terms. A great deal of drama and theatre wouldn’t hurt either.

  1. My motto is:
“If you can’t defeat Rome, marry it.”

Vicky Alvear Shecter's book is a great introduction to Cleopatra and to ancient history for teens:

Cleopatra Rules!: The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen- Amazon.com

Cleopatra Rules!: The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen- Amazon.co.uk


  1. Perhaps someone will write a book explaining just why Hannibal did not finish off Rome.

    I wonder who might want to take on that challenge ...

  2. I don't know about these answers.. I thought Cleo was a woman of letters. She sounds like a Ptolemaic Marie Antoinette caricature

    @Narukami - is an explanation needed? Like William Blake says, dwelling on things unacted is a route to oblivion ;)


  3. Nice site Dorothy!

    Some very cheeky answers Vicky! It definitely fits the spirit of your book nicely.

    Narukami - does it need to be a book?! - I think JMW Turner's painting Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps at the Tate sums up everything we need to know much better than any book can!

    Anonymous/MT - love that Blake quote. That fellow's words and images make me swoon!

    Keep up the great work all!

    Kind Regards
    H Niyazi
    Three Pipe Problem


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