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Love in the times of mythology: the most emblematic couples

Love in the times of mythology:
the most emblematic couples

Love; a feeling as strong as it is tragic, something that moves us, makes us feel and, often, act. Some of the most fascinating stories in world history are rooted in these very strange reactions that are caused by what we call “love.”

We really love, love and that is why we have decided to present some of the most amazing mythological couples that made history and of course marked Greek culture and thought.

Eros and Psyque

Aphrodite was considered one of the most beautiful women, but there was competition. According to the myth, Psyche was such a beautiful woman that she provoked the jealousy of the goddess, so she decided to send her son, Eros, to shoot her an arrow that would make her fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. However, the god fell in love with her and took her to his palace, where he locked her up and visited her without ever revealing his identity.

Psyche decides to discover the true identity of her lover and this only enrages Eros making him leave her. She tries to earn her forgiveness but for this, the girl needs Aphrodite’s help. Psyche’s feats provoke the favor of the gods, even the very cruel Aphrodite herself, who grand her immortality, marrying her to Eros. The result of that union was a daughter, called Hedone, a spirit that represents sexual desire (hedone in modern Greek means sexual pleasure).

Zeus and Hera

The “kings” of immortals were a truly explosive couple. Zeus and Hera, in addition to husband and wife, were also brothers. We practically already know about this unstable relationship and the innumerable troubles of Zeus. Hera, with her strong personality, which was often dismissed simply as “jealous”, used to hunt down and punish all the poor girls that Zeus fell in love with, causing numerous problems to mortals and immortals.

Hades and Persephone

A love story that begins on the wrong foot but ends in a great relationship. Persephone, the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter, fascinated the god of the underworld and brother of Zeus, Hades, who ended up kidnapping her to have her as his wife.

Her mother, frustrated with Hades and technically with all the gods, makes all of nature dry up in search of her daughter. This leads to an agreement that Persephone would spend six months with her mother on Olympus and the rest of the time with her husband.

This led to the creation of seasons, as Demeter was so happy to see his daughter that everything would flourish on earth.

As for the relationship between this pair of gods, let’s use the fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast,” meaning a relationship that seemed strange and inappropriate at first and ended in a wonderful story.

The Rape of Proserpina, 1621-22 Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Galleria Borghese
The kidnapping of Helen by Paris, 420-410 AC, New York, The Metropolitan Museum

Paris and Helen

A love story that caused a 10-year war and one of the greatest epic poems. Paris fell in love with Helen at first sight and decided to take her with him to Troy. This betrayal of her husband, Menelaus, is supposed to be the reason for the Trojan War between Achaeans and Trojans.

There are so many assumptions surrounding this relationship that it would take us quite a rhapsody, yet it’s safe to say that these two would be the symbol of impulsive love.

Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, 1555, Jacopo Tintoretto
Ares (Mars) is hiding under the table.

Ares and Aphrodite

Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, but this was an arranged marriage, and she had always truly loved Ares (the god of war). Ares and Aphrodite started a mess, which they couldn’t stop even after being caught in the act and humiliated by Hephaestus. The beginning of this relationship seems a bit romantic, surpassing a marriage arranged in the name of true love, but it quickly dissolves. The two end up repeatedly cheating on each other, before punishing each other and their lovers, and then doing it again. A word? Obsession!

Clitemnestra and Agamemnon

And a bit of tragedy, the style that only Greeks can create. Clytemnestra, Spartan princess and sister of Helen of Troy, was married to Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus. Helena’s husband, Menelaus, asked his brother for his help in the Trojan war. He had to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to the gods so that the Greek army could sail to Troy. King Agamemnon tricked her wife into sending her daughter to him, where she was later sacrificed (the goddess Artemis saved the Iphigenia but this is another Greek tragedy).

Clytemnestra could not forgive her husband and starts an affair with her cousin. When Agamemnon returned to Mycenae, the two lovers killed him along with Cassandra. However, this story does not only tell the revenge of Clytemnestra. Several years later, the queen of Mycenae with her lover, Aegisthus, is killed by her son Orestes, aided by her sister Electra to avenge the death of her father. Oh Mycenae, what drama!

Red figure krater, The Death of Agamemnon, ca 460AC

Of course, there are more stories, many different versions that fascinate us and that we really want to tell you. Therefore, we promise you a second part very soon.

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