I already told you in another list how I consider winter as the season of love. Here we bring you some of the most famous love stories in the history of mankind. Take note, that though most of the stories in this list has tragic endings but ‘tragic endings’ itself is a thing of the past. Nowadays people don’t really die for love; they either move on or elope. Go through the list and take a moment to appreciate the change in society’s attitude that enables us to live and love more freely now.
10. Paris and Helen
Their love story hails from Greek mythology and was responsible for the Trojan War. Paris was the younger prince of Troy who was asked to decide by the 3 goddesses – Athena, Hera & Aphrodite, as to who was the fairest of all. When he named Aphrodite, she, in return promised him the most beautiful woman in the world. Later Paris learned about this woman who was Helen of Sparta but she was married to the Spartan King Menelaus. When Paris eloped with Helena, the Spartan’s unified together to bring back their honour. This resulted in the Trojan War which ended with the death of Paris and destruction of Troy. As for Helena, she was taken back to Sparta to her husband.
9. Orpheus and Eurydice
It’s a tragic love story of the Greek mythological hero Orpheus and his wife Eurydice. Orpheus had a charming voice so much so that even the stones and wild beasts were moved by it. When Eurydice died, Orpheus decided to go to the underworld to bring her back. He managed to win the gods over by his music and they allowed him to take his wife back with him with a caution that he would not under any circumstance look behind while escaping. But as fate would have it, at the end of their journey, Orpheus did look behind in order see if Eurydice was still behind him and immediately she was sucked back to the world of dead.
8. Cleopatra and Mark Antony
Another love story that went into history for their tragic end was between Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Following the defeat of the Egyptians in the hands of the Roman (under Octavian), Mark Antony committed suicide owing to a false news of Cleopatra’s death. But Cleopatra tried to come to an understanding with Octavian by way to charming him with her beauty. When she failed, she committed suicide by inducing an asp bite. Most sources claim that Cleopatra and Mark Antony were buried together but their location has always been a mystery.
7. Tristan and Iseult
Love story of Tristan and Iseult has been popular France since the 12th century and is said to have an older Celtic legend origin. The story goes that, Iseult’s marriage is fixed with Tristan’s uncle King Mark. But after devouring a love portion, Tristan and Iseult madly falls in love with each other. Nevertheless, Iseult marries King Mark but the two young lovers under the spell of the portion cannot resist each other. When their secret got exposed, Iseult returned to King Mark while Tristan went far away. In time Tristan married another woman named Iseult but later when he was wounded by a poisoned blade, he called for his one true love Iseult. The story ends in despair as Tristan dies without being able to lay his eyes on Iseult and Iseult suffered the news of her lover’s death.
6. Lancelot and Guinevere
This love story is an Arthurian legend and is said to have been inspired by that of Tristan and Iseult. Lancelot and Guinevere were adulterous lovers. Guinevere was married to King Arthur and Lancelot was his most loyal knight. Upon discovery, the Round Table split into two, one siding with Arthur and the other siding with Lancelot. War commenced and ended with Guinevere returning to the king. By this time, the Round Table had become weak which enabled Mordred to challenge the king. Arthur managed to defeat Mordred but was mortally wounded. The story ends with Guinevere blaming herself for all the destructing and entering into convent while Lancelot becomes a hermit and later a priest. They both spent the rest of their lives in repentance.
5. Napoleon and Josephine
Trouble followed Napoleon and Josephine from the very beginning of their journey together. Josephine had two children and was a six year old widow. Only two days following their marriage Napoleon had to leave on a military campaign while Josephine began an affair with Lieutenant Hippolyte Charles. When their affair came to light before Napoleon, he was infuriated and decided to have an affair of his own. Later when he discovered that his wife could not bear children he divorced her and married Marie-Louise of Austria who bore him a child and heir to the throne. In spite of all these event, over the course of years, Napoleon is rumoured to have said the following words in his death-bed, “France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Josephine.”
4. Alexander I of Serbia and Draga Mašin
The love between Alexander I of Serbia and Draga Mašin had caused an outrage throughout an entire country. The reason were plain, Mašin was a widow and had been a widow for 12 years and was also lady-in-waiting to Alexander‘s mother. But nothing could stop them from uniting. Alexander I banished his own mother who had opposed their match. A false pregnancy scandal caused much havoc and undermined the country’s international reputation. Some military officers, in their hatred went so far as to conspire against the royal couple. But all hell broke loose in 1903 when rumours spread that the unpopular Queen’s equally unpopular brother was to be declared heir to the throne; the couple were assassinated in the Royal Palace.
3. Romeo and Juliet
Arguably the most well-known romance tale written by the most celebrated English playwright William Shakespeare in the 1590s. Shakespeare’s have been inspired by Arthur Brooke’s poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet published in the 1560s which is said to be again based on an ancient Roman story of Pyramus and Thisbe. In Shakespeare’s tale, Romeo and Juliet belonged to opposite warring families but had fallen in love with each other. The family did everything to stop their union. When false news reached to Romeo that Juliet is dead he committed suicide which was followed by Juliet’s suicide when she discovered her lover’s death.
2. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
This name may sound largely unfamiliar to the Western world but their love had resulted into the construction of the most iconic monument in the whole planet – Taj Mahal. The Mughal Royal couple had a loving marriage with 13 children until during the birth of the 14th child, Mumtaz died. Shah Jahan was devastated and plunged into deep sorrow that soon inspired him to build a beautiful tomb where his beloved wife would rest for all eternity. It took ten year to build Taj Mahal but after it was completed Shah Jahan became severly ill and was quickly overthrow by one of his sons. Later he spent his days in house arrest and after he had died he was buried beside his wife inside the Taj Mahal. Rumour has it, that the Mughal king had wanted to built another Taj Mahal with black marble on the opposite bank of the river. But obviously the work never panned out.
1. Bonnie and Clyde
Perhaps the most notorious and adventurous couple in the list Bonnie and Clyde were as much partners in crime as they were lovers. They travelled a lot and committed serious crimes around the Central United States during the time of the Great Depression. They were responsible for several deaths including that of 9 police officers. As the story goes, when Bonnie and Clyde met they fell right off the bat for each other at the first sight. Bonnie was not bothered by Clyde’s previous criminal records and even joined him in his crime trade. They died together in 1954 in a police ambush and although Bonnie had wanted to be buried beside her lover, her family disallowed it.
Written By: Sufia Banu