Ancient egypt

Watching Queen Cleopatra felt like witnessing the death of scholarship

The most controversial aspect of Netflix’s new drama-documentary Queen Cleopatra – not least in Egypt – was the casting of a black actress, Adele James, in the title role. After all, one of the few things that seems certain about Cleopatra’s early life is that she was a Macedonian Greek. Luckily, though, the show had a powerful counterargument to this awkward and Eurocentric fact. As the African-American professor Shelley P. Haley put it with a QED-style flourish, back when she was girl, her beloved (if uneducated) grandmother once said to her: ‘I don’t care what they tell you in school, Cleopatra was black.’ Watching Queen Cleopatra felt alarmingly like witnessing

A purring cat is not always contented

Large cats cannot miaow. (Lions and tigers, I mean, not moggies who have overindulged on Whiskers Meaty Selection in Gravy.) The largest feline ever to have lived was a sabre-toothed cat in South America, which weighed nearly half a tonne. Female house cats can copulate up to 20 times a day when in the mood. Male cats have a bone in their penis. Cats are green-red colour blind. There are probably more than half a billion cats alive in the world at this moment. These are gleanings merely from the footnotes of Jonathan Losos’s The Age of Cats, which is portly with information. The book, surveying cats’ evolutionary history, behavioural

Unimpressive: The Prince of Egypt reviewed

The Prince of Egypt is a musical adapted from a 1998 Dreamworks cartoon based on the Book of Exodus. So the original writer is God. The show opens with a troupe of fit young athletes working on Pharaoh’s latest tomb. And they look like the best-fed slaves in history. A meat-rich diet and round-the-clock access to a gym and a sauna must have been written into their contracts. The tanned abs of the male slaves ripple and gleam. The lithe females are bendier than hosepipes. Presumably these cartwheeling ballerinas are able to limber up in an air-conditioned dance studio before each shift. The only drawback is lugging blocks of stone