10 of History's Most Torrid Love Affairs

Antony and Cleopatra
The couple described on the previous page fell in love while portraying Antony and Cleopatra. Moviepix/Getty Images

Antony and Cleopatra get points in the "torrid" department because they died for their love. Cleopatra was queen of Egypt in the 1st century B.C. An ambitious woman, she had an engaging personality that men found intriguing, despite her plain looks. Hence, she was able to become the mistress of Julius Caesar, king of Rome [source: Boykin].

In 44 B.C., Caesar was assassinated and three men uneasily joined forces to rule Rome: Gaius Octavian, Caesar's grandnephew; Marcus Lepidus, an army general; and Mark Antony, a Roman politician and general. Antony invited Cleopatra to visit in 41 B.C., hoping to forge a strategic alliance with Egypt. It was love at first sight for both, and a romance ensued. But the trio ruling Rome often fought with each other -- and with outsiders -- so eventually Antony married Octavian's sister to help keep the peace and secure his power [sources: Boykin, Amo Life, Encyclopedia of World Biography].

In 36 B.C., Antony returned to Egypt, and he and Cleopatra resumed their romance. The two definitely loved one another, yet they also used each other to their respective political advantage: Cleopatra had money, and Antony had power. So Antony could help Cleopatra fend off any invasion of Egypt by the Romans, while Cleopatra could help finance Antony's armies [source: ThinkQuest].

But the world didn't like these two political powerhouses joining forces. Octavian stirred up animosity against the couple, partly because Antony decided to divorce Octavian's sister to marry Cleopatra. During Antony's final battle against Octavian and his forces, he was told Cleopatra had committed suicide. Devastated, he killed himself with a sword. Cleopatra was actually alive, and was subsequently taken prisoner. The story gets a bit murky here. Legend says she somehow got a poisonous snake into her cell, then let it strike and kill her. Maybe, maybe not. But she did die, and the two were buried next to one another [source: Boykin].