On a trip to Milan, I visited The Last Supper, which can only be seen by appointment and in small groups. After everyone had left the room, I remained, strangely drawn to the mural on the opposite wall, the Crucifixion scene by Giovanni Montorfano. In the lower right corner, witnessing the Crucifixion, are several Dominican nuns. This caught my eye, having been educated by the Dominicans in New Orleans. Who, I wondered, was the ghostly figure kneeling in prayer, virtually nestled in the skirts of the nuns?
Of all the women distorted by history and myth, Kleopatra is the most vivid example. Far from the sexual and treacherous archetype of feminine evil who lives in the popular imagination, Kleopatra was one of the ancient world’s most brilliant and powerful rulers. She survived blood-curdling family rivalries for the throne, single-handedly ruled a rich nation with an eye for turning a profit, and kept Egypt independent while all its neighboring countries had been annexed to the Roman Empire. She spoke nine or ten languages, patronized art, drama, athletics, sciences and other forms of scholarship, and had the loyalty of her subjects — rare for the members of her dynasty.
Friends and readers, let me give it to you straight. I do not want to die. It’s that simple. And now that I have written a vampire book, Dracula in Love, and fully explored the advantages, I really, really thirst to be an immortal.
Oh, I am not afraid of death. I believe beyond a shadow of doubt in the immortality of the soul. I am absolutely certain that death will be a pleasant, if not ecstatic experience. I always believe that the best is yet to come, and I extend that belief to life after death. If life is good, then death will be great.
I am absolutely shocked that the great liberal New York Times would publish an article of immense length and detail about a young Saudi prince without one mention—ONE MENTION—of the plight of Saudi females.
Photographs from an exhibition of Cleopatra in Rome.