Greatest Love Stories? So much has been written about love. For hundreds and hundreds of years, love has been a recurring topic in each piece of art, in the ever-so-quoted books about love, drama, and passion. However, I am more than sure that the greatest love story of all times is yours, or will be yours, and since I don’t know it, I cannot speak of it.
If you open the numerous rankings of best love stories, novels, and movies, you will not see the most touching, but the most commercial ones because if people have truthfully managed to achieve something, it has been to commercialize the most sacred and pure feeling, to offer it cheaply and earn unspeakable amounts of money out of it. That is why I will not talk about “Romeo and Juliette”, nor of Jack and Rose on the Titanic, nor of “The Notebook”, nor of “50 Shades of Gray”. I’m taking you so far back in time when myths were created and retold and, as we all know, there’s no smoke without fire, no story without truth. There we go:
There was a young boy called Pyramus and a young girl, Thisbie. Both were beautiful, but that is not important to the story – in ancient times people perceived beauty differently. They lived next door, grew up together since the day they were born, but they came from warring families. The feud had been going on for so long and it never seemed to end. Ever since they were small, Pyramus and Thisbie looked and each other with curiosity, which with time turned into a love so deep, that none of them could control it. Who can control love, anyway? Being forbidden to ever talk to each other or to meet outside, they found a crack in the wall between their rooms. The wall was so thick, they knew it would stay there forever, but the small crack helped them talk every night, all night. Time passed and they became surer of their profound feelings for each other and of the impossibility of being together because of the rivalry between their families. One night, Pyramus told Thisbie that they should run away and get married. She agreed readily. They had to meet in the forest near a monument outside the city, under a big tree. Thisbie sneaked out during the night and went earlier. At the same time, a lion that had just eaten its prey approached the river which was running near the tree to drink some water. Thisbie saw the lion, got scared, and ran away, but her white veil caught on the branches of a tree and fell there. The lion calmly crossed the river, sniffed the veil, played with it for a bit, got bored, and walked away. A few minutes later, Pyramus arrived and found the veil, but he also saw the traces left by the bloody paws of the lion. He felt grief, guilt, and such an unbearable pain for leading the love of his life into certain death straight into the paws of the lion. He took out his sword and plunged it through his heart. Thisbie saw the lion walking away calmly and ran back to the tree where she found the breathless body of her beloved Pyramus. In his hand, he was still holding the veil, stained with some poor animal’s blood, and she understood why he had ended his life. What reason did she have to live? How would she go on? She took the sword in desperation and stabbed it through her heart. The families ended the feud and buried them next to each other.
This great story told and retold for millennia is said to have been the inspiration for “Romeo and Juliet” and probably you see the resemblance. The moral? Well, the lion was surely not the one to blame for the tragic destiny of young love. So many centuries have passed and I can write millions of examples from our time where disputes, wars, family traditions, different cultures, and religions have stood in the way of young love. Of any love. Not all of them end tragically, but even now people part because of family pressure and, as we well know, every goodbye is a small death.
People have always said that everything in love is so complicated. And it is. In the ancient myths, there is a great story, explaining why it’s so messed up. This is my favorite one, apart from my own one, of course. It all started because of envy and vanity as most things do.
Once upon a time, there was a kingdom with no name. The king and the queen had three daughters, all beautiful, but the youngest one, Psyche, was divine. She was worshiped more than the goddess Venus was, she was admired far and wide and people said she might be the child of Venus and a human. Angered by the beauty of Psyche (which in Greek means “soul”) and by the assumption that a goddess would ever be with a human, Venus sent her son, Cupid, to hit her with one of his arrows and to make her fall in love with a horrible monster with scales and a hairy face. Psyche was scared because no admirer approached her – they were all afraid of being rejected. She could never get married if no one came close to her, could she? Her parents took her to an Oracle and through her voice, Venus ordered the father to take his daughter to the top of a high rock and to leave her there where she would be taken by an ugly monster with who she would fall in love. It was for her own good, they said. Left at the top of the rock in the dark night, she didn’t see the approaching Cupid, the God of love. While preparing his arrow to hit her, he accidentally stabbed his finger. Accidents in love do happen and sometimes it all starts when you least expect it. Psyche was suddenly lifted by the God of wind Zephyros and was taken through the air to a breathtakingly beautiful palace. She was alone all day, but when night fell, the monster arrived and made tender and yet passionate love to her. It was dark and she could only feel his body. He came again the next night, and the next, and she was looking forward to the nights with him. Psyche was spending days trying to look more beautiful for him. Of course, the vengeful Venus didn’t know that her son Cupid was visiting the love of his life every night and was madly in love with her enemy. At the same time, Psyche was beginning to miss her sisters and her home and Cupid arranged for her sisters to visit her. Seeing the magnificent palace she was living in, they hated her, envied her, and persuaded her to go against the only thing the monster had asked of her – never to look at him in the light. As we all know, curiosity killed the cat, and in this case, it almost killed Cupid. While he was asleep, Psyche lit a candle and saw him, his astoundingly beautiful face and body. She was so surprised, that she dropped the candle and burnt him. Cupid had no choice but to disappear – hurt, his heart bleeding from her betrayal, his deeply hidden secret discovered. Psyche ran after him, but Cupid had gone. She was so madly in love with her “monster” and didn’t want to live without him. She walked far and wide looking for the only creature she truly loved with all her heart. Psyche was also expecting his child. Venus, ever so revengeful, would allow her to have that child only if Psyche went through horrible trials, the last of which was to go to Proserpina, the Queen of the Underworld, the ruler of the souls of the dead, and to take a drop of her beauty in a box, which Psyche had to deliver to the cruel Venus. Psyche went to the realm of the dead and told Proserpina the story of her love. Proserpina got angry with Venus, but nevertheless, she put a drop of her beauty in the box and let poor pregnant Psyche go back to the world of the living. Curiosity again took over and Psyche opened the box to see what the drop looked like – she would never dream of using it, she was so beautiful and didn’t need it. But it was no beauty drop. It was a leaf that flew out of the box, turned green and Psyche fell into eternal sleep. The death sent for Venus, had taken her life instead. Cupid, who had already recovered from his wounds, had been desperately looking for his love and when he found her breathless, with her cute round tummy, he cradled her, poured the elixir of immortality into her body, and brought her back to life. Their daughter was called Volupta, which means “desire”. Ever since, Cupid (Love), Psyche (Soul), and Voluptas (Pleasure) have been messing with people’s lives.
The morals of these two stories are: Do not try to stop love – you might kill it. Even people with great egos, people who think they are gods, can fall in love. You can fall in love with a monster if that monster makes you feel happy. Do not break the trust the other person has in you or you will have to go through hell to win it back, which might break you, if not kill you. Forgiving is possible if you truly love it. Envy, jealousy, and personal interests will always stand in the way of true love and will quite too often destroy it. If you let them.
I have met so many people in my life who would tell me: “If I tell you my story, you will be inspired to write a book.” It’s probably true. It’s also true that your love story is the best one ever, only if there was someone to tell it to the world. Love stories are an inspiration and a warning, but also love is our last remaining chosen freedom – to love who we take as part of ourselves. Who we love, what we do with them, how we share happiness, what happens in our bedrooms is no one’s business. All the world needs to know is that we have been fighting for this freedom and it’s the last thing anyone would take from us – not that they won’t try, but because we will not let them.
-By Geri Decheva
More on “The Greatest Love Stories” in Diamonds Production Magazine MARCH 2021