Cleopatra VII is still one of the most widely known rulers in Western culture. Her romances and power are the subject of a Shakespeare play, many films, and even an opera, but one marriage in her life often goes overlooked. According to family custom, Cleopatra was married to both of her brothers. In fact, only six individuals filled the 16 great-grandparent roles on Cleopatra’s family tree. Also See: 10 fascinating photos from World War II
While obesity ran in Cleopatra’s family and is possibly linked to the deep levels of intermarriage throughout the years, the most dangerous result of incest in the case of the Ptolemy family tree was the violence that ensued over power grabs. Intermarriage kept power and wealth within the family, but sibling rivalry took on a whole new meaning when control over Egypt was concerned. Royals frequently turned to murder to maintain their status. Cleopatra herself killed not one but two brother-husbands as well as her sister in successful bids for power.