Cleopatra VII of Egypt Answers Proust Questionnaire

Earlier today we had Mithradates VI of Pontus, today we have Cleopatra VII of Egypt answering the Proust Questionnaire.

Cleopatra was the last ruler of Egypt, and a woman that continues to fascinate us all, even two millennia after her death (my post on her looks remains one of the most commented upon on this blog). And who better to answer on her behalf than Adrian Goldsworthy, bestselling author of Caesar, and the writer of a new biography of Antony and Cleopatra. There are a number of other biographies of Cleopatra on the market, but Goldsworthy's is my favorite as it combines new solid academic research with being easy to read.

Cleopatra was too busy to answer every question, but the ones she chose to ignore probably tell us as much about her ...

Proust’s Questionnaire

1.      My Principal virtue is:
My cleverness.

2.      The qualities a man should have are:
He should be powerful and useful.

3.      The qualities a woman should have are:
The skill to use both her brain and her charm, with the clearness of thought never to forget why she uses them.

4.      What I appreciate most about my friends is:
As queen it is difficult to have friends.  I value the loyalty of my close attendants.  

5.      My main fault is: (none)

6.      My favourite thing to do is:

7.      My idea of happiness is:
Success, and if possibly the opportunity to enjoy it.

8.      My idea of misery is:
Failure and obscurity.

9.      If not myself, I would like to be ...
Perhaps the first Ptolemy, who could gamble for a kingdom and win.

10.  The country I’d like to live in is:
The one I rule.

12.  My favourite poet is:
Can there be another answer apart from Homer?  I am Greek after all.
1.      My heroine from history is:
My ancestor Arsinoe III rallying the army at Raphia
19.  What I hate the most is:
The need to win over barbarians from Rome.

21.  The reform which I admire the most is:
I am a ruler, not a reformer.  Prosperity is the aim of a monarch.

23.  This is how I’d like to die:
In a way befitting a dignified life.
24.  My present state of mind is:
Wary as always, for life and power depend on Rome and the Romans keep killing each other.

To read more about Cleopatra - and her partner Antony - read Adrian Goldsworthy's brilliant double biography:

Antony and Cleopatra- Amazon.com
Antony and Cleopatra - Kindle Edition (US)

Antony and Cleopatra- Amazon.co.uk

For more on her time with Caesar, obviously you should pick up Adrian's biography of him too.


  1. OMG, this is awesome! Must post link...

  2. I am currently reading Goldsworthy's book and it is excellent. Last year I read Grant's bio of the Queen and thought it very good (still think so) but this new book is even better.

    Because the book is about both Cleopatra and Antony, we are given extensive background not only on Egypt and the Ptolemies, but also on the late Roman Republic and the leading personalities of that Empire. Of particular note in Antony's grandfather.

    Considered one of the greatest orators in Roman history, he enthralled the soldiers sent by Marius to kill him and, very nearly, talked his way to freedom. Simply amazing.

    Although another recently published bio has been optioned for a new film about the Queen and is receiving more press of late, Goldsworthy's is the book to read. Solid scholarship combined with lively writing makes for an enjoyable and informative read.

  3. Excellent! And so is the Goldsworthy book!


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