Publication date: February 19, 2013 Prometheus Books
PROLOGUE: THE MYTH OF CLEOPATRA’S DEATH
When the sun rose over the city of Alexandria on the morning of August 12, 30 BCE, it did not shine down on the great Alexandria of Egypt, but the new Alexandria of the Roman Empire. The air was heavy with resignation and solemn respect for the passing of the queen, and the transfer of Alexandria into the hands of the Roman general Octavian. Cleopatra had provided a dignified conclusion to the great dynasty with her brave, if surprising, exit from the world.
The story was simple, yet awe-inspiring. Octavian had been in the palace, and Cleopatra in her tomb with her two favorite handmaidens. Somehow, a cobra had been smuggled into the mausoleum hidden in a basket of figs. A soldier delivered a letter to Octavian in which Cleopatra explained that she was about to take her life with a request that her body be buried next to her beloved husband and Roman general, Mark Antony, who had already committed suicide a few days earlier, dying in the arms of his wife. Octavian immediately dispatched his men to the mausoleum to intervene and stop the queen from this rash course of action. However, by the time the soldiers arrived, Cleopatra was dead. Word was sent back to Octavian, “We were too late.”
Unwilling to believe Cleopatra was truly dead, Octavian hurried to the mausoleum. He was stunned and angered by the sight of the motionless queen. This determined woman who had refused to yield at any time in her life, this enchantress who lured married Roman men into unfaithfulness and turned them against their countries, this queen who had refused to recognize his superiority in life, preferred death over submission to his sovereignty. He would now be unable to bring her back to Rome in shackles and parade her though the streets in his grand triumph—his final coup de grace. Queen Cleopatra, the greatest prize in the entire world, had slipped out of his grasp.
Hoping she was perhaps in a coma, the sleep that mimics death, Octavian desperately sent for the physician and for specialists in snake venom who might still find a way to save her. But the snake venom experts had no remedies and the doctor pronounced her dead. All of this was witnessed by the soldiers, and after they left, Octavian met with his advisors.
The story of Cleopatra’s death did not take long to spread beyond the compound and soon the city was in mourning. Later that week, a wealthy friend of Cleopatra's came to Octavian and gave him a large sum of money to maintain statues of the queen. Wishing to prove he was a moral leader who respected the sentiments of his new subjects, Octavian agreed.
This is the account of Cleopatra’s death, a tale that has been dutifully retold for two thousand years. But the real story of how Octavian got away with the most perfect crime in history, the murder of Cleopatra, has never been uncovered until now.
In 2004, I hosted the Discovery Channel documentary, The Mysterious Death of Cleopatra, and debunked the “death by snake theory.” I also stated that I believed Cleopatra was murdered but I wasn't able to go into my reasoning in the show that was just an hour long. I decided only a book would allow me to present my research and an in-depth analysis, to present a solid profile of history and to reconstruct the events of Cleopatra's life and death. During the work on the documentary and throughout the next eight years, I spent time in Egypt, Rome, and England working with Egyptologists, poison experts, archeologists, and historians of the ancient world and I began to piece together another, more credible story behind the death of Cleopatra.
I believed Cleopatra was tortured.
I believed Cleopatra was strangled.
I believed Anthony was murdered.
I believed Cleopatra did not hide in her tomb with her treasure.
I believed Cleopatra did not bargain with Octavian.
I believed Cleopatra planned a brilliant military maneuver at Alexandria, her Actium Two, which this time would not have been an escape strategy from a failed naval battle, but a faux naval battle to permit a successful escape from a dire military position that offered little hope of survival.
I believed Cleopatra never loved Antony.
I believed Cleopatra never loved Julius Caesar.
I believed Cleopatra did not have Caesar’s son.
I believed Cleopatra may have been one of the most brilliant, cold-blooded, iron-willed rulers in history and the truth about what really happened was hidden behind a veil of propaganda and lies set in motion by her murderer, Octavian, and the agenda of the Roman Empire.
And now The Murder of Cleopatra brings this new view of history to you with my full analysis of the world's greatest cold case.
The Murder of Cleopatra is in stores on February 19th and available for order now at Amazon (Amazon. Canada) and Barnes & Noble. Kindle format is also available in the US and UK and Canada.