Apr. 18th, 2014

ricardienne: (christine)
It seems that the publishing industry is trying to make Cleopatra Selene into the new 'Tudors' -- this is the third recent historical fiction treatment. I haven't read Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter, but I have read the first two books in Stephanie Dray's trilogy, and now, Vicky Shecter's Cleopatra's Moon.

The tropes seem to be pretty constant: Cleopatra's family is extremely (and un-historically) Egyptianized, Selene is a devotee of Isis (Isis rigorously part of the Egyptian pantheon, usually) and a complete, patriotic partisan, Octavian/Augustus is the evilest person who ever eviled, Greco-Egyptians are cultured, intellectual, open-minded and gentle while Romans are brutal, patriarchal, and uncivilized.

Shecter, like Dray, seems to be hampered by history, which puts an awkward necessity (there will be spoilers coming up) on the way that their narratives go. Spoilers for History )

In conclusion: You could write so many awesome YA novels set in this general period. Livia in the late 40's and 30's: 16 years old and newly married, watching her male relatives get killed, fleeing around the Mediterranean and doing everything she can to protect who's left. "Turia", also newly married and having to play party politics and work really hard in a man's world to keep her family hidden and get amnesty for them. On a lighter note, Sulpicia and the Tibullan circle hanging out, writing love poetry, and maybe getting involved with Gallus and that whole debacle. Heck, someone should take Julia seriously, and not just dismiss her has the frivolous, immoral daughter of Augustus with a million affairs (it's frustrating that these Cleopatra Selene novels, in trying to rehabilitate one or two ancient women, just reapply and intensify the stereotypes to all of the other (in)famous women of the period) -- recall that all of the men she was rumored to have been involved with were *also* all of the remaining descendants of the oldest senatorial families. Julia the dedicated republican idealist, anyone? To move a bit later: what about a novel about teen-aged Agrippina the Younger and her mother? What about Epicharis? What about Berenike? (What about the Arrias and the Fannias? What about Servilia?) The field is wide open, people!


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