The Reason Cleopatra Married Her Brother

To call Cleopatra impressive would be a gross understatement. Per Smithsonian, "Not only did she command an army and navy, negotiate with foreign powers and preside over temples, she also dispensed justice and regulated an economy." As Live Science describes, her empire encompassed Egypt, Cyprus, a portion of present-day Libya, and other segments of the Middle East. Multilingual and intellectual, Cleopatra was a famously persuasive communicator and shrewd ruler. So naturally, future generations would obsess over her looks and love life because society's priorities are nothing if not backwards. When thinking about the men in Cleopatra's life, people tend to focus on Julius Caesar crossing her bedroom Rubicon and Mark Antony biting her with his trouser asp. But she also married not one, but both of her brothers.

Keeping it in the royal family

Before you ask, neither of Cleopatra's brothers was named Jaime, and there was nothing taboo about royal Egyptian siblings saying, "I do" or "I do you in bed." As History explains, it was common for the royals of antiquity to marry relatives in order to "preserve the purity of their bloodline."  In Cleopatra's case, that blood belonged to a long line of "Ptolemies who ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years," according to Live Science. She would be the last of the Ptolemaic rulers and definitely not the first to marry a family member. More than a dozen of her ancestors kept it in the royal family. In fact, Cleopatra's parents might have been half-siblings.

Cleopatra's first brother-husband was Ptolemy XIII, whom she married when he was 10 and she was 18, per History. Their marriage devolved into the worst kind of sibling rivalry. Ptolemy's advisers conspired against Cleopatra, forcing her to leave Egypt. She would seduce Julius Caesar, who came, saw, and conquered her brother. She then tied the knot with brother-husband number two, Ptolemy XIV, who was 13 years old. Their marriage would be short-lived, as Cleopatra is thought to have had him murdered — the only fate harsher than puberty.