I’m literally dreaming about Cleopatra and Mark Antony these days… images of them, in splendid garb imitating their respective gods, Dionysius and Isis, dining on the Egyptian Queen’s floating barge fill my slumbering mind.
You see, I’m knee-deep in preparation for this month’s exciting panel on the Battle of Actium, arguably one of the most interesting and pivotal events in ancient history. And yet, despite its substantial position in the annals of history, the battle itself and the thoughts and motivation of its famous actors, are still shrouded in a great deal of mystery.
Part of the reason for this is because history is often written by the victors… and in this case, (spoiler alert), it has been very much viewed from the perspective of Octavian, the first Roman Emperor.
The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, 41 B.C. Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Indeed, Caesar Augustus went out of his way to ensure the poets, the historians, the artists, everyone really, put ink to papyrus in order to glorify him for all of prosperity. 

He also made a concerted effort to actively destroy Mark Antony’s perspective… his legacy… anything to do with him. It’s only through small chance findings (like the lover’s coin) that we can get any sense of Mark Antony at all. 

When we do, however, the Augustan ‘official line’ quickly becomes blurred. Cleopatra has spent millennia being depicted as a wonton seductress… rather than a brilliant, polyglot leader. Mark Antony, a drunkard with low morals who was easily corrupted by that exotic concubine… as opposed to a competent general who embraced the Eastern culture. 
Cleopatra on the Terraces of Philae, Frederick Arthur Bridgman  (1847–1928)
At the time, the history most likely seemed much more black and white… but with thousands of years of hindsight, the ability (nay incentive) to see events from different perspectives, and with (hopefully) unbiased efforts to understand the truth, events appear much more gray. 
It is here that we ask today’s question, dear reader: 
Can history ever be simple? Is it possible for it to be black and white? 
As always, you can comment below or write to me directly at [email protected] 
P.S. If you haven’t yet, make sure to register in advance for our panel discussion on the War that Made the Roman Empire, taking place March 16th at Noon EST. 

Cornell professor, Barry Strauss will discuss this pivotal battle with naval military historian, William M. Murray and Egyptologist, Kara Cooney, moderated by yours truly (hence all the prep work!) 

If you register in advance, you can win Barry’s new book!

Save Your Spot HERE.