Ancient Lovers: Five Touching and Sometimes Tragic Love Stories Before Romeo and Juliet (2023)

Do you believe in true love Are you a romantic on a constant search for the one to whom so many novels, poems and films are dedicated, or are you one of those people who believe little or nothing in love and scoff at the brave "discoverers" in the Search for Your One true love?

Regardless of which group you belong to, here are five old love stories that will renew your faith in love. Some of them may be nothing more than creatures of mythology or literature, others are probably exaggerated, but the truth is that all these stories have become immortal and part of pop culture for their profound message for all humanity: love. wins it all .

Ulysses and Penelope

In our modern days, very few people could understand the unique connection between Odysseus and Penelope, let alone emulate what they did.

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Shortly after they were married, Odysseus had to leave Penelope and their son to fight as one of the leaders of Greece in the Trojan War. She would not return home for the next 20 years, during which time Penelope was fiercely loyal to her husband, rejecting any offer from the 108 suitors who won the kingdom from Odysseus.

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The mythical king of Ithaca was equally devoted to his true love, and while he met her biological "needs" a few times, he ultimately rejected most temptations and decided to return home to his wife and child. A story we will all remember: true love is worth waiting for and can overcome any distance when there is hope and faith.

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"Odysseus and Penelope"(1563) by Francesco Primaticcio. (public domain)

Cleopatra and Mark Antony

This is arguably the most famous love story in the world behind Romeo and Juliet, and possibly the most popular historically recorded love of all time. The two fell in love at first sight and their love was so strong that it became a threat to the Roman Empire, which lost power and control of Egypt due to the decisions of blind love Mark Antony.

Despite all the obstacles and warnings, Mark Antony and Cleopatra got married and Antony ended up fighting his own people. According to one version of his story, it is believed that during a battle against the Romans, Antony was mistakenly told Cleopatra was dead and devastated by the news, he took his own life with his sword. Upon learning of Antony's death, Cleopatra took her own life, ending one of the most famous love affairs that ended in tragedy.

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A late 19th century painting of Act IV, Scene 15 from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra: Cleopatra supports Antony as he dies. By Alejandro Bidas. (follower of the Shakespeare Library/CC POR SA 4.0)

Tristan and Isolde

The moving love story of Tristan and Isolde has been told over and over again in numerous accounts and manuscripts. Tristan met the love of his life after traveling to Ireland to propose to the beautiful Princess Isolde on behalf of her uncle Mark, King of Cornwall.

Back in Cornwall, Tristan and Isolde made a fatal mistake and drank a magic potion that evoked invincible and eternal love in whoever tasted it. Despite this, Isolde ended up marrying Marcus of Cornwall, but she couldn't help but love Tristan forever. The love affair continued after the wedding, but when King Mark finally found out, he banished Tristan from Cornwall.

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Tristan and Isolde. (public domain)

Tristan moved to Brittany and married another woman, only because her name, Isolde, reminded him of his true love, Isolde. Although both are married to other people, they have never been able to get over themselves and their sad story ends with the death of Isolde in Tristan's womb in one of the saddest love stories in medieval literature.

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Pyramus and Thisbe

The story of these two young lovers comes from the Middle East. In the story, Pyramus is described as the most handsome of all the Babylonian men and Thisbe is considered the most beautiful woman. Like Romeo and Juliet, they were members of rival families, so they met in secret and shared a love that only they knew about.

At one of their secret meetings near a lake, Thisbe, sitting under a tree, saw a lioness with blood on her jaws, thirsty for water. As the beast approached the lake, Thisbe panicked and ran into a cave to hide, but unfortunately, as she ran for cover, she dropped her veil. When the lion saw the veil, she lifted it up, leaving blood everywhere. When Pyramus arrived on the scene and found Thisbe's bloody veil, he only thought the worst and was shaken by the thought that a wild beast had killed Thisbe. Her pain made him raise her sword and stab himself into her chest. When Thisbe returned to the meeting place and saw Pyramus dead, she too killed herself with her sword.

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Pyramus and Thisbe. (public domain)

Eloisa and Abelardo

In 12th century Europe, the norm for the average society was to be as downtrodden and austere as possible; A love story between a theologian and philosopher (Abelardo) and his youngest student, Héloísa, outraged and challenged Parisian society like never before. The fine line between blind faith and logic was being crossed, and the consequences would hit Heloísa and Abelardo, who, by the way, were already married. The trigger was when Eloísa became pregnant; Both realized that it would not be safe for them to stay in Paris and fled to Brittany, Abelard's homeland.

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Eloísa's uncle, Fulberto, canon of Notre Dame and who hired Abelardo as his niece's guardian to protect her dignity (only in his opinion), was the one who ended their love by having his servants castrate Abelardo, while he slept . .

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Abelardo and Eloísa in manuscript'pink romance'(14th century). (public domain)

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Abelardo became a monk and dedicated his life to philosophy, while Eloísa, heartbroken, was forced by her uncle to give her son up for adoption and become a nun, although she remained in love with Abelardo, with whom she corresponded for the rest of her life. life life of her loving but sad love letters from her were published later and still reach thousands of people around the world to this day.

Image above: "The end of music": a representation of the lovers of Tristan and Isolde. Fountain:public domain

VonTheodoros Karasavvas


Homer.In Iliad. (a lot)

William Shakespeare.Antony and Cleopatra(a lot)

Tristan and Isolde.timeless myths. Available:

Pyramus and Available:

Eloisa and Abelardo.Available:

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