To one visitor Alexandrian life was “just one continuous revel, not a sweet or gentle revel either, but savage and harsh, a revel of dancers, whistlers, and murderers all combined.

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.

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