What is the one emotion that has started as many wars as it has ended? What emotion has had more plays, songs, and stories written about it than anything else? Love is that one emotion that makes enemies into friends and friends into enemies. There are so many legends surround this emotion, from the goddess Athena and Helen of Troy to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The purpose of this paper is to perceive the great feeling of love though the legends and myths.
To trace some minute although very meaningful for lovers patterns of love. Unfortunately, many of love myths end tragically, with the exception of a few which have happy endings. For example, the stories of Pyramus and Thisbe, and Orpheus and Eurydice both have unfortunate endings. On the other hand, the story of Eros and Psyche can have either a tragic or a happy ending, depending on the version that is told.
Upon closer consideration of the legend about Pyramus and Thisbe we learn that their love was strictly forbidden, however, this two loving hearts were inseparable. They used to talk secretly to each other through a narrow crack in a common wall that their houses shared. They would meet in different strange places just to be together for a while. For example they would meet near a tomb on the outskirts of the city near a mulberry tree or in an open field just to converse freely. Analyzing this legend we may draw a parallel with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for the ending is a similar one.
They both die occasionally without considering and analysing a critical situation. “The deep red fruit of the mulberry is the everlasting memorial of these true lovers and one urn holds the ashes of the two whom not even death could part” (Hamilton, Edith, 138). Within this story love takes shape of a passionate but blind and very raw feeling. Here love is a kind of a heavy disease that two young hearts are not able to understand with their mind, thus it turned to be a fatal one.
Another legend I would like to focus my attention on is a story about Pygmalion and Galatea. This story is the most romantic and exciting at the same time. The theme of love is leading throughout the story. This love is very unusual and remarkable, for it was addressed not to human being but to statue, that was much more than a person for its creator, it was the more perfect than any living woman. Love is illuminated through every word of the story.
Pygmalion caressed it, and gave it presents such as young girls love; this was an expression of his love. We may suppose that this love is somehow an obsession, for at long Pygmalion’s love made his beloved come to life. “The maiden felt the kisses, blushed and, lifting her timid eyes up to the light, saw the sky and her lover at the same time” (Hamilton, Edith, 142).
Looking for a tender and long-lasting love we may turn to the story about Baucis and Philemon whose love survived through the whole their life and at the end bestowed them happiness of being together till last breath. Realized that their lives were at their dawn they embraced each other and Baucis was turned into a linden tree and Philemon into an oak. Two different but beautiful trees intertwined with one another symbolised their true love. In wonder, people came from afar to admire and hang wreathes on the branches in their honour.
Also, we may learn about the impatience a loving heart experience. The bright example thereof we see in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus’s love was so strong that made him overcome obstacles and save Eurydice from underground. In spite of God’s prohibition, Orpheus’ impatience to see beloved woman before they step from underground separate them forever. As a result, we come to a conclusion that a heart that loves randomly is rational. Love is always above any reasonable thoughts and logic.
Subsequently, we may proceed endlessly the list of love patterns within different myths and legend. The theme of love was always a central one, thus it did not pass over the works of old Greek talents of mankind, such as Ovid for example. His myths and legends will agitate generations after us. Our successors also will cry for a tragic love or cheer at happy ending.
1. Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1998, 1942.