rcReview: The Murder of Cleopatra

[editor’s note: I purchased the Kindle edition, which explains the lack of page references in what follows]

Brown, P. (2013). The murder of Cleopatra: History’s greatest cold case. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

This is not a scholarly book. The author — Pat Brown — is a noted criminal profiler who has authored several books germaine to that subject and has appeared on assorted news programs. In trying to turn the death of Cleopatra into a “cold case”, however, she is clearly out of her element. Although her book has a very impressive bibliography of secondary sources, she seems to be either padding heavily, or is deliberately choosing to ignore quite a bit of Classical scholarship which has gone before. Indeed, when this blog mentioned a hypish piece written by the author in the Huffington post a couple of weeks ago (Cleopatra Murdered? Hmmmm ….) , she carried on a conversation with me in the comments in which she clearly either has no idea or is unwilling to acknowledge that pretty much all the questions she raises have been dealt with before by professionals in the field, and they did it without resort to speculation being built upon circularity built upon speculation supported by arguments e silentio  built upon sentences beginning with the word “surely” and overuse of the first person singular pronoun. The book is, however, somewhat unique in that it appears to have arisen out of a documentary of the same name from a couple of years ago (rather than the other way around, which is more usual). Indeed, if you want a good TL;DR version of the book, you can still see the German version on Youtube, although for how long is impossible to say:

Outside of the lack of a scholarly approach, Brown’s chief  ‘sin’, as it were, is in looking at Cleopatra’s death almost solely through the eyes of a 21st century criminal profiler who seems to think the ancients were “just like us” and that ancient historians like Plutarch were writing about events in such a way that they could substitute for a modern police crime scene report. What’s worse, is she seems to think that the ‘Hollywood’ or Shakespearean view of Cleopatra’s demise is the one which is generally accepted by “historians”, who are held up as nameless strawfolk on a fairly regular basis. More than that, she spends an awful lot of time not believing anything Plutarch says, sometimes for good reasons, but more often for questionable ones to paradoxically bolster her own baseless speculations.

Enough of generalities, however, let’s examine some specifics. I really don’t want to do a chapter-by-chapter critique (which this thing actually deserves) because I really don’t have an attention span long enough to write such a thing.  We are fortunate, however, that brief excerpt of The Murder of Cleopatra has been put up at The Scientist, as it includes what might be called Brown’s Credo – a list of all the things she believes.  I won’t deal with all of these, but fittingly, it begins with one of Brown’s more outlandish claims:

I believed Cleopatra was tortured.

This comes following chapter eighteen, which is entitled “The Unforeseen Murder of Antony”, which begins with a long digression about how Egyptian temples were designed — it later turns out — to argue that Cleopatra couldn’t possibly have dragged the dying Antony up to a window, as portrayed by Plutarch (a very long excerpt from Plutarch is also included here). Eventually her head is “spinning at Plutarch’s contorted logic” and so she decides it makes more sense that Antony was actually murdered by his own men. In the next chapter, “The Capture of Cleopatra”, the focus is on another section from that excerpt, in which Cleopatra tears her breasts and garments in grief over Antony. Brown doubts that Cleopatra would have done such things to herself because of her high levels of narcissism and the fact that she didn’t ‘fall apart’ when Julius Caesar was murdered or when she and Antony escaped from Actium (although I don’t know how that last one fits in). She does acknowledge that this was the sort of thing one might do for a loved one, but another part of her credo is:

I believed Cleopatra never loved Antony.

… the arguments presented for which I really won’t get into, but it’s all part of trying to find an alternate explanation for Cleopatra’s “self abuse”. To further cast doubt on Cleopatra engaging in what is a well-known traditional act of mourning,  Brown decides to ‘role play’ to see if Cleopatra could inflict “the level of harm” that various sources claim for such actions. She tried beating her own breasts and decided it would require “hysterical grief to keep up such a ridiculous activity”. To tear clothes and lacerate one’s breasts would require “a crazed emotional haze.” Adding to her evidence is a typical bit of e silentio — Plutarch’s report of Proculeius intervening when she was attempting to stab herself with a knife. She suggests (through questions) that if Cleopatra was already bloodied from these grieving actions, that Proculeius would have believed she had already stabbed herself. Brown further thinks that Proculeius would have checked for such wounds and/or would have informed Octavian of all the bruises and gashes.

Yet he apparently notices none of these things, nor does he call for medical assistance. He also never notes that she has exposed either of her breasts for examination.

Note to Brown: Plutarch ain’t writing a police report. He is drawing on other sources and they aren’t dealing with a prosecutor and a judge. That women in the ancient world could rip garments and lacerate themselves is a common enough idea in the ancient Mediterranean world, as Brown does seem to know. The fact that it — and even Proculeius’ actions —  doesn’t fit with her own world view is the problem here, not Plutarch’s description of it.

Another item from the ‘Credo’:

I believed Cleopatra was strangled.
To get to this is incredibly convoluted and there is much criticism of Plutarch based on the traditional ‘asp’ story. Indeed, a major segment of the documentary version was designed to demonstrate that there weren’t a lot of snakes capable of killing a human so quickly, and even if the cobra were successfully smuggled in as suggested, it wouldn’t be sufficient to kill Cleopatra and her two slaves. The book actually opens with a long section all about temples which, it later turns out, is designed simply to stress that the blocks that temples were made from were so close together that the snake — which was never found — could not possibly have escaped from whatever room Cleopatra was in. It then goes on to present the accounts of the death from Plutarch, Dio and Suetonius. Then Brown puts on her profiler hat and tells what she does when she deals with a crime scene and then applies it to Cleo:
The queen’s physician, who visited the scene of the crime and pronounced the ladies dead, did not state the deaths were natural, so we can determine that their deaths were at least suspicious.
Hmmm … I don’t recall any mention of a ‘queen’s physician’ … ancient folks don’t need to call in a doctor to declare someone dead.
She goes on to question the asp story, and does not seem to acknowledge that the asp story has been questioned for quite a long time, both by ancient historians (as seen in the alternate accounts in Dio and Plutarch) and in modern accounts. Readers with access to JSTOR, e.g., might want to check out the exchange between Griffiths and Baldwin in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology on the snake (or snakes) involved and the likelihood that the slaves took poison (J. Gwyn Griffiths, “The Death of Cleopatra VII”, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 47 (1961), pp. 113-118; B. Baldwin, “The Death of Cleopatra VII”, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 50 (1964), pp. 181-182 ; J. Gwyn Griffiths, “The Death of Cleopatra VII: A Rejoinder and a Postscript”, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology,  51 (1965), pp. 209-211). We might also note that Brown’s claim that Plutarch is first to mention the story underscores her shaky handling of all the ancient attestations of Cleopatra’s death (Horace, Carmina 1.37 anyone?).  Brown also rejects the suggestion that simple poison was involved — which, I suspect, most modern scholars at least mention, if not endorse. Brown’s objections are based solely on there being no mention of a ‘bottle’, as if a bottle was the only means of carrying poison in the ancient world. She ignores, it seems, Dio’s account of the poison hairpin. Even if we don’t buy into that, we have to point out that Cleopatra was renowned for being able to hide poison, as an account from Pliny (21.9 via Perseus) reveals:

At the time when preparations were making for the battle that was eventually fought at Actium, Antonius held the queen in such extreme distrust as to be in dread of her very attentions even, and would not so much as touch his food, unless another person had tasted it first. Upon this, the queen, it is said, wishing to amuse herself with his fears, had the extremities of the flowers in a chaplet dipped in poison, and then placed it upon her head. After a time, as the hilarity increased apace, she challenged Antonius to swallow the chaplets, mixed up with their drink. Who, under such circumstances as these, could have apprehended treachery? Accordingly, the leaves were stripped from off the chaplet, and thrown into the cup. Just as Antonius was on the very point of drinking, she arrested his arm with her hand.—”Behold, Marcus Antonius,” said she, “the woman against whom you are so careful to take these new precautions of yours in employing your tasters! And would then, if I could exist without you, either means or opportunity of effecting my purpose be wanting to me?” Saying this, she ordered a man to be brought from prison, and made him drink off the potion; he did so, and fell dead3 upon the spot.

A ‘chaplet’ is a garland for the head (I had to look it up) … this too is not mentioned by Brown, but it’s obviously important. If Cleopatra wanted to use poison, she knew how to hide it. Whatever the case, we can turn to the evidence presented for Cleopatra being strangled. Brown doesn’t present any … the whole strangling thing is the culmination of her “reconstruction” (Chapter 20). This is a chapter which is essentially a work of bad fiction, with painful dialogues and descriptions, most of which would be hard to support with any evidence at all.
If I haven’t lost you yet, I’ll deal with the culminating bit of her Credo as a sort of conclusion:

I believed Cleopatra may have been one of the most brilliant, cold-blooded, iron-willed rulers in history and the truth about what really happened was hidden behind a veil of propaganda and lies set in motion by her murderer, Octavian, and the agenda of the Roman Empire.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that Cleopatra was, to some extent, the victim of a propaganda campaign (although Antony was the major target of such), but we might be hesitant to see Octavian as a “murderer” (I won’t get into the section where she decides he was gay as well). Even here, however, Brown isn’t breaking new ground — Michael Grant suggested such things back in 1972 in his tome dedicated to the Egyptian Queen. But it is very difficult for those who are familiar with the ancient sources — and not just translations of Plutarch and Dio — and the historical and cultural milieu in which Cleopatra et al were living, to see the death of Cleopatra as having any real advantage for Octavian. Indeed, the current ‘party line’ — that exhibiting her in his triumph and then allowing her to live in some other place — would be an amazing exhibition of his own clementia. To emphasize this, we can note (along with Adrian Goldsworthy, p. 384 and in a discussion with Dorothy King which she mentioned to me a few weeks ago), the precedent had already been set by Julius Caesar who sent Cleopatra’s sister Arsinoe into exile in Ephesus … we won’t get into that story again, though.

As can possibly be surmised from the foregoing — which was incredibly difficult to write because there are so very many things to object to in this book — this isn’t the sort of book which should be gracing the shelves of scholars. If you feel you must purchase it, get a Kindle edition so at least trees don’t have to suffer … if you must have a print version, wait a month or so. This is destined to be filling the remaindered bin very soon.

William Murray Looks at Naval Warfare in the Ancient Mediterranean

Nice feature in USF News on William Murray’s ongoing research:

Shipping and Greek culture connect University of South Florida Professor William Murray and Aristotle Onassis, a legendary titan in the shipping industry – a connection born of Murray’s lifelong love of sailing and the Onassis legacy.

More than three decades of research about some of the world’s oldest ships made Murray the perfect choice to launch a new book series sponsored by the prestigious Onassis Foundation in cooperation with Oxford University Press. The new Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture features books on topics presented in the Foundation’s highly-respected University Seminar Program, which selected Murray as a professor in 2007.

Others selected for the series include Professors Alain Bresson, University of Chicago; Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge; Edith Hall, University of London; Mary Lefkowitz, Wellesley College; Henry Maguire, Johns Hopkins University; Claudia Rapp, UCLA; and Tim Whitmarsh from Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Each author is an eminent authority on an aspect of Hellenic or Byzantine history or culture.

In March, Murray introduced the first volume of this new series to a standing-room only audience in the Atrium of the Olympic Cultural Center in Manhattan. His groundbreaking book, The Age of the Titans: The Rise and Fall of the Great Hellenistic Navies, tells the story of the world’s first naval arms race. He explains, using fascinating new insights, how powerful kings built warships that were longer than football fields and crewed by thousands of men.

Murray, The Mary and Gus Stathis Professor of Greek History, in the Department of History at USF, always tries to marry archaeology with history, particularly as concerns the sea and maritime culture. That pursuit has led him to numerous archeological projects in Greece, Israel and Turkey, on land and underwater.

Having immersed himself in examining the artifacts and details of life from ancient Greece and Rome, Murray speaks with great authority. His love of the subject infuses his descriptions of the period with the kind of enthusiasm that makes his students feel he’s reporting from experience.

He’s particularly fascinated by the warships. Though none have survived in their entirety, shipwrecks have provided important pieces of evidence to support descriptions recorded from that era.

“We know that the largest weighed hundreds of tons and were crewed by more than a thousand men,” Murray said. “An important feature was the ship’s bow ram, a large bronze warhead of extraordinary workmanship and technical sophistication.”

He traces the roots of the naval arms race to slightly before 400 BC, when warships were first used to support siege warfare, attacking one another in prow-to-prow collisions. The game changer came in 332 BC.

“When Alexander used his navy to attack the island city of Tyre, it was as if he dropped an atomic bomb,” Murray said. “He used ships fitted with artillery and siege machinery to pound the city walls and break through the harbor defenses in ways that astounded both his friends and enemies. Thereafter, naval warfare was never the same.

“Alexander owed his success to his father Philip II, who had put together an ‘army corps of engineers’ whose R&D efforts jump-started the evolution to enormous vessels armed at the bow with ponderous bronze rams, driven by hundreds of oarsmen seated on multiple levels.”

When asked what drove such military research, Murray said, “policymakers and need. Phillip challenged his engineers to shorten his sieges of coastal cities and they responded by drawing up the plans that his son put into practice at Tyre. Alexander’s use of warships as integral parts of a new naval siege unit was revolutionary.”

Past researchers have focused their efforts on the big ships themselves – theorizing how they were rowed – but Murray wanted to know the answer to another question, namely, “what were big ships built to achieve?”

To get the answer, he combed through ancient texts and became more and more convinced that concrete strategic objectives drove the invention and development of larger than normal galleys. “The answer was so simple,” he said, “I wondered why no one else had come up with it before. The big ships were developed to attack and defend coastal cities – to literally bash through physical barriers strung across harbor mouths – and not to participate in duels with other big ships in set naval battles.”

A chance string of discoveries by others – one in 1913, another in 1980 – followed by a few “eureka” moments of his own started Murray on this line of reasoning.

While a graduate student at the American School of Classical Studies in Greece, he saw the partially excavated, overgrown weed-filled site of an ancient victory monument. It had been built by Augustus to commemorate his victory over Anthony and Cleopatra in the famous Actian War. More than 200,000 troops and 800 ships are said to have taken part in that historic fight for control of the Roman Empire.

“Overlooking the battle zone, on the side of a hill where Augustus had pitched his tent, one can still see the ghostly outlines of warship rams preserved in the stone facade of the monument,” Murray said.

When he first saw the site in 1973, he recognized its importance but was unable to explain how oddly shaped holes in the facade held bronze warheads from the enemy fleet. The key was pulled from the sea seven years later in 1980, when an intact warship ram was found near Haifa, Israel.

“At the time, I was helping to excavate Herod’s harbor at Caesarea,” Murray said, “and someone casually suggested I hop on the bus up to Haifa to see what they’d found.” Murray smiled as he recalled the moment when he first saw what is now known as the Athlit Ram. “Someone threw a switch on the light bulb in my head and I experienced the biggest eureka moment of my professional life.” Thereafter he knew how the rams were mounted in the peculiar holes on Augustus’ victory monument.

Murray was now certain that the wall displayed 37 warheads cut by the victor from the bows of Antony’s and Cleopatra’s biggest ships. “The number surely represented a tithe or 10 percent dedication from the 370 warships that Augustus captured during the war,” Murray explained.

The holes also exhibited a range of sizes, and all held much larger rams than the one from Israel, which weighed half a ton.

“Anthony and Cleopatra clearly revived the big ship phenomenon after a period when big ships were being used less and less, just as the ancient histories tell us,” Murray said. “And their defeat at Actium spelled the end of an era in naval history.”

Faced with the size, weight, and raw power these rams represented, Murray began to question old theories and formulate new answers. The ram from Israel and the enormous warheads from Actium were telling a new story and Murray wanted to piece it together.

He read all he could about ancient warships, known by different names that referred to their relative oar power – the most popular being “threes,” “fours,” and “fives,” the smallest being “ones,” the largest a “forty.” Murray gathered the evidence for their different crew sizes, the armaments they carried, and their characteristics in battle. But he wanted to know more. He began to question a lot of assumptions and presumptions historians had made up to this point.

Hints and clues would come from some of history’s most colorful leading characters: not only Alexander the Great, and his father Phillip II of Macedon, but also the generals who fought for his empire after he died in 323. These included men like Antigonus “One Eye,” Demetrius “The Besieger of Cities,” and a long line of Ptolemies, including Cleopatra VII and her Roman ally Marcus Antonius.

The precise plans of these last two have been the subject of speculation since the period of their infamous love affair and war with Augustus Caesar, then known as Octavian.

Dio Cassius, a Greek historian who lived two centuries after their defeat, wrote that the pair intended to invade Italy and oust Octavian and his men from power. Later historians thought Cassius was speculating. Murray’s conclusions about big ship navies and their uses, however, support Dio’s assertion and challenge long-held assumptions about the pair’s ultimate objectives.

“When I started the book, I did not intend to say anything new about Actium, but when I got to this point of the narrative, the big ships made no sense unless Antony and Cleopatra really planned to invade Italy. Otherwise, we must conclude they were ignorant of three centuries of naval history.”

But this was only part of the story. Murray was not entirely satisfied with historians’ other assumptions about how big ships were used in battle.

“Most everyone agrees that the smaller ships relied on their light weight and superior maneuverability to attack their enemies with ram strikes. But monstrous rams and the big ships they armed must have been used for purposes other than combat in set naval battles.”

It was an ancient handbook that became the lynchpin of his new way of looking at things – the writings of an ancient ‘military consultant’ – Philo of Byzantium. His Compendium of Mechanics provided Murray with the “how-to” book on conducting sieges of coastal cities during the height of the big ship era. It supports Murray’s new assertion that yesterday’s navies used their bow rams not only on other ships but on harbor fortifications – a new idea at the core of Murray’s new book.

Long troubled by the fact that no other scholar came to this conclusion before, he found that Philo’s work was largely unreadable prior to 1920. As a result the document was ignored by 19th and 20th century scholars who formulated the current models of naval power. Thereafter, when a readable text of Philo was published, no one noticed his advice about using big ships to attack cities. This was true until Murray read the text in 1996 and was rewarded with a goldmine of information about the uses of big ships in siege warfare.

According to Murray, much remains to be done. In 2009, for example, he enlisted the help of USF’s Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies (AIST) who scanned the Actium Victory Monument with 3D laser scanners.

Working from these data, Murray and a team of computer modelers are creating “virtual rams” to fit the complex holes of the monument.

“With the scan data, we can do some ‘reverse’ engineering to recreate not only the rams, but also the timbers of each warship’s bow,” he said.

The ultimate goal? To conduct crash tests on the different sizes of ships they produce.

Murray eventually hopes to simulate battle maneuvers and thus gain a sense of the physical reality involved in ship attacks on one another – and on land fortifications. When he does, he’ll have even more to share with his fellow scholars at the Onassis Foundation and beyond. This month he’s sharing his research and details from his book during a cruise of the Aegean and will join an expedition in Sicily searching for ancient warship rams.

“When you dig into the details, you can end up rewriting history or at least furthering the discussion,” Murray said. “That, and the use of new technologies to visualize and then refine what we could only dream about as recently as 10 years ago … that’s what makes this work so exciting and so satisfying.”

Chasing Mummies: A Cleopatra Update?

History (Australian television channel)
Image via Wikipedia

As I sit here rethinking my Ancient World on Television listings because there seem to be so few ‘new’ items worth watching coming out (more on this later) I wandered over to the History Channel’s website and they have a pile of preview videos from Zahi Hawass’ new series called Chasing Mummies. Early media reviews have commented primarily on how badly Dr Hawass seems to abuse folks working on sites (and that comes out in some of the previews) but of more importance to us are a couple of segments which are of interest to us and, of course, the History Channel’s embedding thing doesn’t want to work. So here’s the APA format citation:

Bonus Discoveries At Taposiris Magna. (2010). The History Channel website. Retrieved 10:51, July 16, 2010, from http://www.history.com/videos/bonus-discoveries-at-taposiris-magna.

I won’t comment on the silliness of certain folks asking for a brush so they can clean the femur a bit more. Nor will I comment on the apparent ‘amazement’ at rather common lamp decorations and the identification of certain winged horses coming from “Roman Mythology”.

Of more interest/importance is a segment where Dr Allan Morton and David Cheetham discuss what happened to Cleopatra’s body. Both of them seem to think she was cremated “according to Macedonian tradition”. Morton thinks the idea of a tomb at Taposiris Magna is ‘possible’, but not probable. Cheetham thinks the possibility of a tomb there is zero because he thinks she was cremated and buried:

Where is Cleopatra?. (2010). The History Channel website. Retrieved 10:47, July 16, 2010, from http://www.history.com/videos/where-is-cleopatra.

Ignoring the apparent lack of any suggestion that the tomb might be under water where Franck Goddio has been working, as regular readers of rogueclassicism will recall, we have previously pondered the fate of Antony’s and Cleopatra’s bodies ages ago and wondered what Macedonian practices would have been. I’m not sure that the suggested cremation scenario works for Cleopatra — Macedonian cremation traditions notwithstanding — because it seems clear from Augustus’ famous visit to the tomb of Alexander that the bodies/sarcophagi of other ptolemies were on view there as well. Here’s Suetonius, Augustus 18 (via Lacus Curtius):

About this time he had the sarcophagus and body of Alexander the Great brought forth from its shrine, and after gazing on it, showed his respect by placing upon it a golden crown and strewing it with flowers; and being then asked whether he wished to see the tomb of the Ptolemies as well, he replied, “My wish was to see a king, not corpses.”

A famous pronouncement, of course,  but one I don’t would work in a cremation situation if the Ptolemies continued Macedonian practice. But maybe Cleo was treated differently?

… by the way, the Chasing Mummies website will probably be of interest to many of our readers …

UPDATE (an hour or so later): I think it’s  salutary to note that the Latin Suetonius uses for ‘corpses’ is ‘mortuos’, which is possibly ambiguous in the context of ‘burial’ (it could generally refer to ‘bodies’, sarcophagi, urns with ashes, etc., I think. The Latin text/notes from the Detlev Carl Wilhelm Baumgarten-Crusius text at Google include the parallel passage from Dio and seem to suggest the passage in Suetonius has been restored from the Dio passage, so it’s problematical on many levels:

Death of Cleopatra Revisionism Followup

Death of Cleopatra
Image via Wikipedia

Folks who are still interested in Christoph Schaefer’s theories regarding the death of Cleopatra might want to watch the German science show Abenteuer Wissen for more details (not sure how long the video will be up; I can’t seem to embed it here). The takes-too-long-and-is-too-painful theory works if you take the accounts of our ancient sources’ claims that it was a “peaceful death” at face value. Of course, they weren’t eyewitnesses and as we’ve mentioned before, there are problems with the accounts of the ‘funerating’ of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra … it seems likely there are similar problems here. Nonetheless, perhaps a combination of ‘drugs’ plus snakebite-for-show satisfies everyone  …

Our previous coverage:

Some additional coverage outside of the Telegraph (which we mentioned in our first post):

Speaking of Cleo …

We might be on the verge of another ancient-popculch-hybrid type thingy … a couple of weeks ago, Donna Estes Antebi wrote in the Huffington Post (inter alia):

The label Cougar conjures images not of women of merit and achievement, but of fountain-of-youth seeking desperation. “Cougars” are painted as wildcats armed with bottles of Botox, stiletto-stalking the kind of six-pack that doesn’t come in a can. What a sexist double standard. You know what they call successful men who keep the company of younger women? “Sir.” Or “damn lucky.” “Cougar” is never mistaken as a complement. It’s a term laced with underlying disrespect and derogatory inferences that minimize and objectify even the most successful of women.

I say enough with the denigrating cougar references. It is time to show women the respect they deserve. I coined a term in my upcoming book, The Real Secrets Women Only Whisper, which I use to describe women who dominate in a relationship through their education, power, or accomplishment. I refer to them as “Cleos.” Just like Cleopatra, the magnificent Egyptian queen herself, these powerful women rule. Women have indeed come a long way and modern-day incarnations abound. Famous American Cleos include such powerhouse women as Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Barbara Walters, Kelly Ripa, Paula Deen, Demi Moore, Christine Peters, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachael Ray, Tyra Banks, Joan Rivers, Cheryl Tiegs, Halle Berry, Joy Behar and of course, Arianna Huffington. These women deserve our admiration. From bartenders to billionaires, a Cleo can bring home the bacon and share it with anyone she pleases!

Cleos are not cougars on the prowl looking for sex with younger men. Cleos don’t have to prowl! Cleos are highly desired – at any age. Cleos don’t need a powerful man to boost their self-esteem. Cleos have their own power. There are Cleos living all over the country who bring home the bacon, while their significant others are pouring them a glass of wine after a long day, or packing the school lunches in the morning.

And there was a followup:

Antebi is the author of The Real Secrets Women Only Whisper and she seems to be making the usual ’rounds’ … the Huffington Post seems to be the first non-gender-specific mainstream forum where this word has popped up, so we’ll keep our jaded eye open to see  if it turns up elsewhere …