12. Cleopatra Was Not Stunningly Beautiful — She Was Probably Obese
History remembers Cleopatra as not only a robust female ruler but also an enchanting seductress, who allegedly had herself smuggled to Julius Caesar by wrapping herself inside a rug. However, the Cleopatra of pop culture bears little to no resemblance to the actual queen of Egypt; in fact, today’s audience might not even recognize her.
Cleopatra was a Ptolemy, and as was the custom of that dynasty, her parents were brother and sister. In fact, kings were required to marry their sisters in order to acquire their power. Cleo herself was married to her 10-year-old brother when she was only 18 years old and eventually married the other one, as well. In keeping with her genetic line, she bore marks of inbreeding, one of which was probably obesity.
Archeologists have found that many Egyptian royals were overweight, owing at least in part to a diet heavy in beer and bread. However, incest may also have played a role. Cleopatra herself had a hooked nose, a round face, and fat hanging under her chin. Roman propaganda probably showed her as being the indomitable beauty that we think of today, but she wasn’t the Elizabeth Taylor who played her in the 1963 movie.
Age: 39 (68 BC-29 BC)
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt