This is the story of a long time ago. The time of myths and legends, when the earth was still young. The cruel and greedy Emperor of Rome–Claudius–found that people didn’t want to the joined army because they didn’t want to leave their families. In order to build a bigger army, he decided not to allow any more marriages. Mankind was suffering… until one man arrived.
Saint Valentines decided to take a stand and kept performing marriages in secret. His act made the emperor furious. Saint Valentine was sent to jail. He was executed on February 14, 269 A.D.
He wrote a little note for his friends and followers just before the execution– “Love your Valentine”.
Valentine’s sacrifices didn’t go in vain. Till today, people still remember the name of Saint Valentine and his note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine’s Day.
It’s been almost 2 millennia since Saint Valentine’s execution. Since then, we have seen many Emperor Claudius come and go–they tried to create barriers for love–but none succeeded in stopping the flow of love.
Throughout history, Saint Valentine has made several comebacks. We have experienced many immortal love stories over time. So, here are our Top 5 picks of the most unforgettable love stories that appeared in history and literature.
- Paris and Helen:
The story of Helen of Troy has been written by combining the facts and with a healthy dose of fiction. Prince Paris was the son of Trojan King Priam. Goddess Aphrodite once blessed and promised Paris the most beautiful woman on earth. Destiny drove Paris to meet Helen, but she was married to Spartan King Menelaus by then.
Desperate Paris abducted Helen and brought her back to Troy. This eventually triggered a war and the furious King Menelaus burned the wonderful city to ashes. Paris fought hard to defend his country but failed. He was fatally wounded while King Menelaus brought the most beautiful lady back to Sparta.
- Tristan and Isolde:
The tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde has been told and retold in many forms: art- stories, cinema, plays, songs, musicals, sculptures, and paintings. This a story from the medieval period, during the reign of King Arthur. Isolde was the beautiful daughter of the King of Ireland. She was the fiancé of the king Mark of Cornwall.
On one occasion, King Mark sent his nephew Tristan to escort Isolde back to Cornwall. But they fell in love with each other during the voyage. Upon returning, Isolde married Mark of Cornwall, but she couldn’t forget Tristan. So the affair continued until king Mark found out about it. The furious king banished Tristan from the country. Tristan and Isolde somehow managed to escape death, but Isolde was forced to return to Mark.
Tristan escaped to Brittany. There he married Iseult of Brittany but couldn’t forget Isolde as well. At one stage, Tristan joined a war and got wounded by a poison lance. By then Isolde became renowned for her expertise on medicinal treatment. So Tristan requested for help in hopes that she would be able to cure him. If she agreed to come, the returning ship’s sails would be white, or else the ship would display a black sail.
Isolde was returning on the ship with a white sail but Iseult lied to Tristan and told him that the sails were black. Tristan couldn’t take the grief and died before Isolde could reach him. Isolde died soon after of a broken heart.
- Devdas and Parvati:
This is a modern-day love story, in contrast. Wealth has always been an obstacle to love story. But for Devdas and Parvati, it was their caste that kept the pair from each other.
The story by the legendary author Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay had great influences on Bengali lifestyle, culture, and literature. The unique nature of the story, and the beautiful portrayal of love inspired many directors to produce films based on this single masterpiece. We have seen the film‘Devdas’ in several different languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Assamese, Telugu, Urdu, Malayalam and so on.
In the story, Devdas was the son of an upper-class Brahmin family. His childhood friend Parvati (Paro) was from a middle-class Bengali family. Young Devdas was sent to Calcutta (now Kolkata) for higher studies. Upon his return, the duo suddenly realized their innocent childhood relationship has transformed into something greater. Devdas realized Paro is no longer the little girl he once knew. They were planning for marriage. But Devdas’s family rejected the idea in order to preserve the supremacy of their caste. Being utterly insulted, Parvati’s family arranged her marriage with another rich, but widower, the landlord.
Frustrated, Devdas turned to alcohol as the means of forgetting his grief and disappointment. In the midst of all these confusion, Devdas met a courtesan called Chnadramukhi. At her place, Devdas kept on drinking alcohol frantically–which was, in fact, a drawn-out form of suicide.
Quite quickly, his health started to collapse. Sensing that death may be approaching fast, Devdas decided to return to see Paro for the last time. But nobody allowed Paro to meet him. Devdas died in front of her house on a dark and cold night, all alone…
- Romeo and Juliet:
This is probably the most frequently told and played love story of all time–written by the celebrated English poet and playwright William Shakespeare. We often use the term ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in order to convey the idea of a perfect couple. The couple has become a synonym for love itself. It is the tale of two teenagers, from two feuding families, who fell in love at first sight.
Everything was going fine until their families found out about the affair. The daring couple decided to get married anyway and risk it all for love. But their families showed no signs of peace and kept on fighting. The fight left no path open for the young couple and they ended the rivalry by taking their own lives. The masterpiece ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been a source of inspiration for many writers and scriptwriters, and we have seen this influence in different stories and manuscripts.
- Orpheus and Eurydice:
Orpheus was an ancient Greek mythological hero who was renowned for his wonderful singing talent. Orpheus fell in love with beautiful Eurydice and married her. The couple was living happily together until Aristaeus–a Greek god–burst into the scene. Aristaeus had a crush on Eurydice and tried to pursue her. The couple had to run to flee from Aristaeus, suddenly Eurydice got herself bitten by a snake and died. Out of sheer agony, Orpheus sang so mournfully that all the creatures and gods cried with him. They advised Orpheus to travel to the underworld where Orpheus softened the heart of Hades.
Hades decided to return Eurydice to Orpheus but imposed one condition–Orpheus would walk in front of Eurydice and wouldn’t look back until they reach earth.
But at the gateway, Orpheus turned back to see if Eurydice is following and Hades took her away again. This time, forever.
Once we went through all the stories, it was very much evident to us that the greatest love stories usually end in tragedy. Maybe it is so because the lovers never give up loving each other–no matter how hard the world tries to tear them apart. And this is the true beauty of love. It is why Saint Valentine sacrificed his life. We hope you have already found or will find your true love … and we wish you a happy life together.