Tyldesley’s biography of Cleopatra is engaging, brisk, and reasonably level-headed. This is not the usual story of passion and romance between the dazzling Egyptian queen and ambitious, easily seducible Roman dynasts—whether Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, or any other of her supposed string of international lovers. In fact, according to one creative misreading of Plutarch, adopted by Shakespeare, she had even seduced Julius Caesar’s old rival, Pompey the Great, as she later did his son. If true, it would mean that she had been to bed with just about all the key Roman players in the civil wars of the mid-first century BC. Tyldesley’s main aim is a more austere one. It is to see Cleopatra in the context not only of Roman power and civil war, but also in the context of Egyptian society and of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty that had ruled the country for almost three hundred years, since the conquests of Alexander the Great. Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator („Goddess, father-loving“), to use her proper royal title, was the last queen of the Ptolemies, in the dynasty’s declining decades.