• Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as Anthony and Cleopatra

The great lovers series: Marc Antony & Cleopatra

They've been immortalised by Shakespeare and credited with giving birth to one of the twentieth century's most notorious romances in the form of twice married, twice divorced  Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (the actors met on the 1963 set of 20th Century Fox's production of Cleopatra). But who were the real Antony and Cleopatra and what made their dramatic union the stuff of legend?


1. MOVE OVER KIM AND KANYE: THIS WAS THE WORLD'S FIRST POWER COUPLE

He was Marcus Antonius of Rome, destined to be one of the world's most powerful men of all time. She was the great beauty, Cleopatra VII Philopator, Queen of Ancient Egypt and heir to the throne of Greece.


2. IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

After the 41BC death of her much older husband Julius Caesar, Cleopatra was summoned by Antony to Rome, where she was forced to answer questions about her allegiances and loyalties. But the extraordinarily beautiful queen instantly charmed the leader, and he put his military plans on hold to spend the coming winter with her, during which their twin children were conceived. 


3. THEY HAD AN ON/OFF RELATIONSHIP FOR MANY YEARS

Though their attraction was instantaneous and resulted in two children, it would be four years before Antony would settle in Cleopatra's home in Alexandria - but then he was rather busy trying to conquer the world!


4. ANTONY WAS A BIGAMIST!

When Antony married the mother of this twins, he was in fact already married to another woman, the sister of one of his public officials, with whom he already had two children!


5. THEY HAD DATE NIGHTS JUST LIKE THE REST OF IT - ALBEIT RATHER EXTRAVAGANT ONES

One of the most fabulous legends about the pairing is that they indulged in ludicrously expensive date nights. On one such occasion, Cleopatra set herself a target of spending ten million silver coins on a dinner - something Antony bet she wouldn't be able to achieve. Though she came close to spending just that with a lavish meal, she fell somewhat below target. And so to make up the shortfall, she served between dishes a cup of pure vinegar, into which she dissolved one of her pearl earrings before drinking the solution. 


6. THEIR LOVE WAS FATALLY DOOMED

When he lost his power, Antony blamed Cleopatra, accusing her of betraying him. Fearing his wrath, she locked herself away and had her people send word that she was dead. On hearing the news, Antony fell on his sword. Cleopatra followed suit, with historians disagreeing on whether she took poison, or enticed a snake to bite her. 


7. ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA'S LOVE INSPIRED ONE OF HISTORY'S OTHER DRAMATIC COUPLINGS

When Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor met on the set of Cleopatra in 1963, the chemistry was instantaneous and the pair began an affair despite both being married at the time. Following their first scripted kiss, they famously carried on smooching long after the director yelled "Cut!".



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Author: Rebecca

Rebecca lives in London with her husband, daughter and dachshund. She hopes her dating blogs for Flame Introductions will inspire you to seek out the best London and UK locations for brilliant dates, and discover some tips along the way to help you find your perfect partner.