A good-sized Ptolemaic vessel could carry three hundred tons of wheat down the river. At least two such ships made the trip daily-with wheat, barley, lentils-to feed Alexandria alone.

Her palace shimered with onyx, garnet, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue.

The Ptolemaic system has been compared to that of Soviet Russia; it stands among the most closely controlled economies in history.

Dioscorides, an expert on medicinal plants, had ample material on which to base a pioneering treatise on bubonic plague.

Cleopatra stood at one of the most dangerous intersections in history: that of women and power. Clever women, Euripides had warned hundreds of years earlier, were dangerous.

We have ample testimony to her sense of humor; Cleopatra was a wit and a prankster. There is no cause to question how she read Herodotus’s further assertion that Egypt was a country in which “the women urinate standing up, the men sitting down.

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