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The Cleopatras

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781472295163

Price: £25

ON SALE: 9th May 2024

Genre: Humanities / History / Regional & National History

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A thrilling biography, filled with the imperial ambitions and merciless intrigues’ SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE

Cleopatra: lover, seductress, and Egypt’s greatest queen.
A woman more myth than history, immortalized in poetry, drama, music, art, and film.
She captivated Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, the two greatest Romans of the day, and died in a blaze of glory, with an asp clasped to her breast – or so the legend tells us.

But the real-life story of the historical Cleopatra VII is even more compelling. She was the last of seven Cleopatras who ruled Egypt before it was subsumed into the Roman Empire. The seven Cleopatras were the powerhouses of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, the Macedonian family who ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great. Emulating the practices of the gods, the Cleopatras married their full-blood brothers and dominated the normally patriarchal world of politics and warfare. These extraordinary women keep a close grip on power in the wealthiest country of the ancient world.

Each of the seven Cleopatras wielded absolute power. Their ruthless, single-minded, focus on dominance – generation after generation – resulted in extraordinary acts of betrayal, violence, and murder in the most malfunctional dynasty in history.

Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones offers fresh and powerful insight into the real story of the Cleopatras, and the beguiling and tragic legend of the last queen of Egypt.

Praise for The Cleopatras:
A real treat for those who relish epic histories of family power’ SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE
‘Admirably readable’ ROBIN LANE FOX
‘Unlocks the fascinating history of many queens’ KARA COONEY
‘A vivid account’ ADRIAN DODSON


Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones has produced a vivid account of the history of Egypt under Greek rule. Without sensationalizing, he brings the Cleopatras and their dynasty, the Ptolemies, to life, in all their splendor, power, intrigue, incest, debauchery, and ultimate annihilation.
AIDAN DODSON, author of Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt
We are all familiar with the sensationalized infamy of Cleopatra VII, Octavian's propagandistic tale told and re-told for centuries in history books and on the stage and screen of a woman who imperiled her people. But there has always been far more to Cleopatra's story. Llewellyn-Jones's The Cleopatras unlocks the fascinating history of the many queens of her era, taking the reader into the political intrigue, murderous violence, incest, and epic power struggles that marked their dynasty and examining the ways in which these queens somehow wielded power within a deeply patriarchal regime.
KARA COONEY, author of When Women Ruled the World
A thrilling biography, filled with the imperial ambitions and merciless intrigues of one of world history's most brutal families, the Ptolemy dynasty of Egypt. Llewellyn-Jones's book places female power at the center through its seven Queen Cleopatras, culminating in the gripping story of the last of the Cleopatras and her alliances with Caesar and Antony. A real treat for those who relish epic histories of family power.
Admirably readable, written with verve and a fine feeling for the ancient context of these seven queen Cleopatras and their modern afterlives. The first six are seldom studied, but here, what we can know of them is cleverly related to the seventh, the famous Cleopatra.
ROBIN LANE FOX, author of Homer and His Iliad
A fascinating and beautifully written look into the complex lives of not one but seven Cleopatras: the ruthless and determined queens who acted as the power brokers of Egypt's Ptolemaic dynasty.
JOYCE TYLDESLEY author of Cleopatra
Throughout, Llewellyn-Jones highlights the queens' ruthless determination, framing them as women with a developed sense of gender dynamics and of patriarchy's inequities, whose political project was often-and quite explicitly-to seize power from men. It's an innovative take on an ancient dynasty.
Publishers Weekly
A fascinating look at myriad dynastic dramas that will appeal to readers who want to learn more about the ancient world. This lively recounting of an ancient Egyptian dynasty through a feminist lens is perfect for history students."
The Cleopatras captures their stories across times of intrigue and politics, betrayal and battle, triumph and disaster. Some events are truly shocking ... Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones offers a comprehensive and readable history of their truly fascinating lives ... an interesting read that will appeal to anyone looking to find out more about Ancient Egypt, queenship or dynastic history.
All About History
The Cleopatras offers a fresh and vivid account of the decline and fall of what the ancients retrospectively labelled "the Macedonian times" and what we know as the Hellenistic world.
Literary Review
Fascinating ... Llewellyn-Jones has a tabloid journalist's eye for the juicy anecdote and lurid story, and there are plenty of both in this history.
Erudite but immensely readable.
Mail on Sunday
Written with a light and engaging voice, the book is an enjoyable read ... does a commendable joy of chronicling a dynasty of complicated women. It is an excellent as an introduction to the Ptolemaic dynasty's female line for non-specialists.
Ancient History Magazine