The Cleopatras

The Forgotten Queens of Egypt

New Release


By Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

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$44.00 CAD

The definitive story of the seven Cleopatras, the powerful goddess-queens of ancient Egypt  

One of history’s most iconic figures, Cleopatra is rightly remembered as a clever and charismatic ruler. But few today realize that she was the last in a long line of Egyptian queens who bore that name.   
In The Cleopatras, historian Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones tells the dramatic story of these seven incomparable women, vividly recapturing the lost world of Hellenistic Egypt and tracing the kingdom’s final centuries before its fall to Rome. The Cleopatras were Greek-speaking descendants of Ptolemy, the general who conquered Egypt alongside Alexander the Great. They were closely related as mothers, daughters, sisters, half-sisters, and nieces. Each wielded absolute power, easily overshadowing their husbands or sons, and all proved to be shrewd and capable leaders. Styling themselves as goddess-queens, the Cleopatras ruled through the canny deployment of arcane rituals, opulent spectacles, and unparalleled wealth. They navigated political turmoil and court intrigues, led armies into battle and commanded fleets of ships, and ruthlessly dispatched their dynastic rivals.    
The Cleopatras is a fascinating and richly textured biography of seven extraordinary women, restoring these queens to their deserved place among history’s greatest rulers.    
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  • “Entertaining.”
  • “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.”
    Simon Sebag Montefiore, New York Times-bestselling author of The World
  • “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
  • “Llewellyn-Jones’s extensive research on all seven of these intriguing Cleopatras is expertly presented. Highly recommended.”
    Library Journal (starred review)
  • “Highly readable.”
    Globe and Mail
  • “Written in a light and engaging voice, [The Cleopatras] is an enjoyable read…does a commendable job of chronicling a dynasty of complicated women.”
    Ancient History Magazine
  • “Offers a comprehensive and readable history…an interesting read that will appeal to anyone looking to find out more about Ancient Egypt, queenship or dynastic history.”
    All About History
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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.”
  • “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
  • “An authoritative portrait of the tempestuous but impressive Cleopatra dynasty.”
  • “Masterful... This is historical drama at its best.”
    Air Mail

On Sale
May 21, 2024
Page Count
384 pages
Basic Books

Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

About the Author

Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones holds the chair in ancient history at Cardiff University. The author of Persians, he has published widely on ancient history and lives in Taff’s Well, Wales.  

Learn more about this author