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Antony and Cleopatra: The Original "Brangelina"

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The handsome, boyish man's man and the powerful, dangerous vixen who steals his heart -- it's a trope that started waaaaay before Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie highjacked the tabloids.

The original outrageous, illicit power couple was none other than the pair who refuse to die in our imaginations -- the fun-loving Roman General Mark Antony and the fascinating Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII..

Like Angelina Jolie, the last queen of Egypt had a brood of children. (Though unlike Angelina, she was hardly beautiful.) Just as "Brangelina" (as the couple as been dubbed by the tabloids) parade their young'uns amongst the commoners, the queen also showed off her children to her people. Only instead of charging People magazine outrageous sums for the privilege of gazing upon the royal offspring, the queen commissioned sculptors to act as the paparazzi. Sadly, though, hardly any images of the queen's children survived the passage of time.

That's what makes the recent find (or, more accurately, "identification" of a previously found object), so exciting -- a 33-foot statue depicting the children of the queen and Mark Antony: twins Alexander Helios (sun) and Cleopatra Selene (moon). Researchers have identified the twins as the children of Antony and the queen by various means, including by the fact that the boy is wearing a sun disk, and the girl a crescent-moon disk. The style of the art also dates to the era in which the twins lived.

Cleopatra actually had four children: one with Julius Caesar, and three with Mark Antony -- the twins and another little boy, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

Twins in the ancient world often meant death for the mother, so the successful birthing of live twins would've been seen as a great omen by the Egyptians. And just like the tabloids can't seem to get enough pictures of the Brangelina clan, we can guess that there was great interest in the twins of the most powerful couple of their time.

Is the statue really a depiction of Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene? There may be some -- as there always are -- who say "no," accusing the researchers of jumping to conclusions. But whatever the truth, one fact has not changed in a millennia -- our endless fascination with illicit power couples and their genetically blessed children. Especially if they're twins.

Around the Web

Cleopatra and Antony's Children Rediscovered : Discovery News

Cleopatra And Antony's Twins, In 33-Foot-Tall - ArtsJournal: Daily ...

Italian 'finds' sculpture of Antony and Cleopatra's twins ... - ANSAmed

Antony and Cleopatra's twin babies depicted on sculpture ...