Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ian Worthington's "Ptolemy I," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Ptolemy I: King and Pharaoh of Egypt by Ian Worthington.

The entry begins:
We’ve all heard of Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt from 55 to 30 BCE. Her affairs with two of the most powerful men in the dying years of the Roman Republic – Julius Caesar and Mark Antony – and starring role in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra have cast her as one of history’s greatest seductresses. In reality she was far from a femme fatale; what she did was simply to preserve her dynasty (the Ptolemaic) and protect Egypt from the relentless sweep of Roman imperialism. Ultimately she was unsuccessful, and Octavian, the future emperor Augustus, folded Egypt into the Roman Empire in 30.

Egypt was one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Hellenistic period, that era from Alexander the Great’s death in 323 to the Roman annexation of Egypt, and with it, all of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East. Egypt’s capital, Alexandria, was home to the great Library and Museum, the epicenter of cultural, scientific, and intellectual life, and the Ptolemaic dynasty was the longest-lived of all them. But who founded that dynasty and who transformed Egypt from a country ruled by Persia and Alexander in the Classical era into a Hellenistic powerhouse?

The answer is Ptolemy of Macedonia, the subject of my book, the first full-length treatment of this powerful and ambitious yet often marginalized figure. Ptolemy was one of Alexander’s boyhood friends, fighting with him in the epic battles and sieges to topple the Persian Empire, and becoming one of the king’s hand picked bodyguards. When Alexander died at Babylon, his ambitious senior staff, the Successors, carved up his empire among themselves, with Ptolemy laying claim to Egypt. For years he faced invasion and threats from the other Successors as they increased their slices of empire, but he always came out on top. He was Egypt’s king and Pharaoh, made Alexandria the capital, founded the Library and Museum, started building the lighthouse on Pharos (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), and proved himself to be a shrewd and efficient administrator, ruthless when needed, and ambitious, wanting to be a second Alexander. His remarkable life story and successes against the odds, I argue, make him the greatest of Alexander’s Successors.

So if there were going to be a movie about Ptolemy’s life and exploits, whom would we...[read on]
Ian Worthington is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Missouri.

My Book, The Movie: Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece.

The Page 99 Test: Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece.

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My Book, The Movie: Ptolemy I.

--Marshal Zeringue