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Top 20 Most Famous Love Stories in History and Literature

Do you believe in true love? Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe in love lasting forever? I think that these love stories will renew or reinforce your faith in love... They are the most famous love stories in history and literature, they are immortal.

 

 

1. Romeo and Juliet

This is probably the most famous lovers ever. This couple has become a synonym for love itself. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Their love story is very tragic. The tale of two teenagers from two feuding families who fall in love at first sight and then marry, become true lovers and then risk it all for their love. To take your own life for your husband or wife is definitely a sign of true love. Their "untimely deaths" ultimately unite their feuding households.

2. Cleopatra and Mark Antony

The true love story of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most memorable, intriguing and moving of all times. The story of these two historical characters had later been dramatized by William Shakespeare and is still staged all over the world. The relationship of Antony and Cleopatra is a true test of love. They fell in love at first sight. The relationship between these two powerful people put the country of Egypt in a powerful position. But their love affair outraged the Romans who were wary of the growing powers of the Egyptians. Despite all the threats, Anthony and Cleopatra got married. It is said that while fighting a battle against Romans, Antony got false news of Cleopatra's death. Shattered, he fell on his sword. When Cleopatra learned about Antony 's death, she was shocked. And she took her own life. Great love demands great sacrifices.

3. Lancelot and Guinevere

The tragic love story of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere is probably one of the best-known stories of Arthurian Legend. Lancelot fall in love with Queen Guinevere, King Arthur's wife. Their love grew slowly, as Guinevere kept Lancelot away from her. Eventually, however, her love and passion overpowered her and the pair became lovers. One night, Sir Agravain and Sir Modred, King Arthur's nephew, led a band of 12 knights to Guinevere's chamber where they burst in upon the lovers. Discovered, Sir Lancelot made a fighting escape, but poor Guinevere was not so lucky. She was seized and condemned to burn to death for her adultery. Fear not. Sir Lancelot returned several days later to rescue his beloved Guinevere from the fire. This whole sad affair divided the Knights of the Round Table and weakened Arthur's kingdom. Poor Lancelot ended his days as a lowly hermit and Guinevere became a nun at Amesbury where she died.

4. Tristan and Isolde

The tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde has been told and retold through various stories and manuscripts. It takes place during medieval times during the reign of King Arthur. Isolde of Ireland was the daughter of the King of Ireland. She was betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall. King Mark sent his nephew, Tristan, to Ireland to escort Isolde back to Cornwall. During the voyage, Isolde and Tristan fell forever in love. Isolde did marry Mark of Cornwall, but could not help but love Tristan. The love affair continued after the marriage. When King Mark finally learned of the affair, he forgave Isolde, but Tristan was banned from Cornwall. Tristan went to Brittany. There he met Iseult of Brittany. He was attracted to her because of the similarity of her name to his true love. He married her, but did not consummate the marriage because of his love for the "true" Isolde. After falling ill, he sent for Isolde in hopes that she would be able to cure him. If she agreed to come, the returning ship's sails would be white, or the sails would be black if she did not agree. Iseult, seeing the white sails, lied to Tristan and told him that the sails were black. He died of grief before Isolde could reach him. Isolde died soon after of a broken heart.

5. Paris and Helena

Recounted in Homer's Iliad, the story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War is a Greek heroic legend, combining fact and fiction. Helen of Troy is considered one the most beautiful women in all literature. She was married to Menelaus, king of Sparta. Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, fell in love with Helen and abducted her, taking her back to Troy. The Greeks assembled a great army, led by Menelaus's brother, Agamemnon, to retrieve Helen. Troy was destroyed. Helen returned safely to Sparta, where she lived happily with Menelaus for the rest of her life.

6. Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice story is an ancient greek tale of desperate love. Orpheus fell deeply in love with and married Eurydice, a beautiful nymph. They were very much in love and very happy together. Aristaeus, a Greek god of the land and agriculture, became quite fond of Eurydice, and actively pursued her. While fleeing from Aristaeus, Eurydice ran into a nest of snakes which bit her fatally on her legs. Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus traveled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone (he was the only person ever to do so), who agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. In his anxiety he forgot that both needed to be in the upper world, and he turned to look at her, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.

7. Napoleon and Josephine

A marriage of convenience, at age 26 Napoleon took a fancy to Josephine. An older, prominent, and most importantly wealthy woman. As time drew on, Napoleon fell deeply in love with Josephine, and she with him, but that didn't deter the adultery on both sides-their mutual respect for one another kept them together, and their burning passion between them didn't falter, and was genuine. They eventually split, as Napoleon deeply required something Josephine could not give him, an heir. Sadly they parted ways, both bearing the love and passion in their hearts, for all eternity.

8. Odysseus and Penelope

Few couples understand sacrifice quite like this Greek pair. After being torn apart, they wait twenty long years to be reunited. War takes Odysseus away shortly after his marriage to Penelope. Although she has little hope of his return, she resists the 108 suitors who are anxious to replace her husband. Odysseus is equally devoted, refusing a beautiful sorceress's offer of everlasting love and eternal youth, so that he might return home to his wife and son. This Valentine's Day, take a cue from Homer, and remember that true love is worth waiting for.

9. Paolo and Francesca

Paolo and Francesca are made famous by the Dante's masterpiece "Divine Comedy". It is a true story: Francesca is married with Gianciotto Malatesta an awful person, but she has Gianciotto's brother, Paolo, as lover. The love between them grows when they read together a book (according to Dante) about Lancelot and Guinevere. When the two lovers are discovered they are killed by Gianciotto.

10. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler

"Gone with the wind" can be identified as one of the immortal pieces of literary works in this world. Margaret Mitchell's famous work has chronicled the love and hate relationship between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Proving that timing is everything, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler never seem to be quite in synch. Throughout the epic story, this tempestuous twosome experience passion but not permanence, and their stormy marriage reflects the surrounding Civil War battles. The flirtatious, promiscuous, and perpetually pursued Scarlett can't make up her mind between her many suitors. When she finally decides to settle on being happy with Rhett, her fickle nature has already driven him away. Hope springs eternal in our devious heroine, however, and the novel ends with Scarlett proclaiming, "Tomorrow is another day."

 

11. Jane Eyre and Rochester

In Charlotte Bronte's famous tale, friendless characters find a cure for loneliness in each other's company. Jane is an abused orphan employed as a governess to the charge of an abrasive, but very rich Edward Rochester. The improbable pair grow close as Rochester reveals a tender heart beneath his gruff exterior. He does not, however, reveal his penchant for polygamy - on their wedding day, a horrified Jane discovers he is already married. Heartbroken, Jane runs away, but later returns after a dreadful fire has destroyed Rochester's mansion, killed his wife, and left him blind. Love triumphs, and the two reunite and live out their days in shared bliss.

12. Layla and Majnun

A leading medieval poet of Iran, Nizami of Ganje is known especially for his romantic poem Layla and Majnun Inspired by an Arab legend, Layla and Majnun is a tragic tale about unattainable love. It had been told and retold for centuries, and depicted in manuscripts and other media such as ceramics for nearly as long as the poem has been penned. Layla and Qays fall in love while at school. Their love is observed and they are soon prevented from seeing one another. In misery, Qays banishes himself to the desert to live among and be consoled by animals. He neglects to eat and becomes emaciated. Due to his eccentric behavior, he becomes known as Majnun (madman). There he befriends an elderly Bedouin who promises to win him Layla’s hand through warfare. Layla’s tribe is defeated, but her father continues to refuse her marriage to Majnun because of his mad behavior, and she is married to another. After the death of Layla’s husband, the old Bedouin facilitates a meeting between Layla and Majnun, but they are never fully reconciled in life. Upon death, they are buried side by side. The story is often interpreted as an allegory of the soul’s yearning to be united with the divine.

13. Eloise and Abelard

This is a story of a monk and a nun whose love letters became world famous. Around 1100, Peter Abelard went to Paris to study at the school of Notre Dame. He gained a reputation as an outstanding philosopher. Fulbert, the canon of Notre Dame, hired Abelard to tutor his niece, Heloise. Abelard and the scholarly Heloise fell deeply in love, conceived a child, and were secretly married. But Fulbert was furious, so Abelard sent Heloise to safety in a convent. Thinking that he intended to abandon Heloise, Fulbert had his servants castrate Abelard while he slept. Abelard became a monk and devoted his life to learning. The heartbroken Heloise became a nun. Despite their separations and tribulations, Abelard and Heloise remained in love. Their poignant love letters were later published.

14. Pyramus and Thisbe

A very touching love story that is sure to move anyone who reads it is that of Pyramus and Thisbe. Theirs was a selfless love and they made sure that even in death, they were together. Pyramus was the most handsome man and was childhood friend of Thisbe, the fairest maiden in Babylonia. They both lived in neighboring homes and fell in love with each other as they grew up together. However, their parents were dead against them marrying each other. So one night just before the crack of dawn, while everyone was asleep, they decided to slip out of their homes and meet in the nearby fields near a mulberry tree. Thisbe reached there first. As she waited under the tree, she saw a lion coming near the spring close by to quench its thirst. Its jaws were bloody. When Thisbe saw this horrifying sight, she panicked and ran to hide in some hollow rocks nearby. As she was running, she dropped her veil. The lion came near and picked up the veil in his bloody jaws. At that moment, Pyramus reaches near the mulberry tree and sees Thisbe's veil in the jaws of the lion. He is completely devastated. Shattered, he pierces his chest with his own sword. Unknown to what just happened, Thisbe is still hiding in the rocks due to the fear of the lion. When she comes out after sometime, she sees what her lover did to himself. She is totally shattered when she sees the sword piercing right through her lover's chest. She also takes the sword and kills herself.

15. Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy

Actually Jane Austen has personified two attributes of human nature, pride and prejudice in Darcy and Elizabeth. Darcy comes from a very high social hierarchy and Pemberley. He typifies the educated aristocracy while on the other hand, Elizabeth is the second daughter of a gentleman of modest means. Mr. Bennett has five daughters who have been allowed to grow up the way they wanted, there has been no school education for them, nor has there been any governess at home. Elizabeth’s very indulgent mother and irresponsible father never gave any thought to the future of the daughters, it is always taken for granted, that they will do well for themselves. To a woman of Mrs. Bennett's understanding, doing well exclusively means finding a rich, well to do husband. For a man of Darcy's social stature, these were very serious failings of the family and totally unacceptable to his polished, educated and refined mind. Darcy adores Pemberley, and the future mistress of that estate can only be just as polished and refined and from an equally prestigious family. He falls in love with Elizabeth only to be refused by her initially, and then much later she realized that she can love no one but Darcy. How they become united and understand the love for each other makes very interesting study.

16. Salim and Anarkali

The love story of Salim and Anarkali is a story that every lover knows. The son of the great Mughal emperor Akbar, Salim, fell in love with an ordinary but beautiful courtesan Anarkali. He was mesmerized by her beauty and fell in love as soon as he saw her. But the emperor could not digest the fact that his son was in love with an ordinary courtesan. He started pressurizing Anarkali and devised all sorts of tactics o make her fall in the eyes of the young, love smitten prince. When Salim came to know of this, he declared a war against his own father. But the mighty emperor's gigantic army is too much for the young prince to handle. He gets defeated and is sentenced to death. This is when Anarkali intervenes and renounces her love to save her beloved from the jaws of death. She is entombed alive in a brick wall right in front of her lover's eyes.

17. Pocahontas and John Smith

This love story is a famous legend in the history of America. Pocahontas, an Indian Princess was the daughter of Powhatan. Powhatan was the powerful chief of the Algonquian Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Pocahontas for the first time in her life saw Englishmen in May 1607. She found John Smith most attractive and developed a liking for him. Smith was taken to the official residence of Powhattan and he was tortured. It was Pocahontas who saved his life from the attack of the Indians. Pocahontas then helped Smith to stand on his feet and Powhattan adopted Smith as his son. This incident helped Pocahontas and Smith to become friends with each other. Pocahontas after this incident made frequent visits to the Jamestown and passed on to the Indians messages of her father. John Smith after getting badly injured due to gunpowder explosion, returned to England. When Pocahontas made a visit to the fort, she was informed that Smith was dead. Sometime after, Pocahontas was taken prisoner by Sir Samuel Argall. Argall hoped to use Pocahontas as abargaining chip with her father Powhatan in effort to get English prisoners returned. During her captivity, she decided to become a Christian, taking the name “Rebecca” when she was baptized. A year later, she married John Rolfe. She made a visit to London, where he met his friend John Smith after eight long years and it was their last meeting.

18. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

In 1612, a teenage girl, Arjumand Banu, married 15-year-old Shah Jahan, ruler of the Mughal Empire. Renamed Mumtaz Mahal, she bore Shah Jahan 14 children and became his favorite wife. After Mumtaz died in 1629, the grieving emperor resolved to create a fitting monument. It took 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants nearly 20 years to complete this monument - the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was never able to complete a black marble mausoleum he planned for himself. Deposed by his son, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the Red Fort of Agra, and spent lonely hours staring across the Jamuna River at the monument to his beloved queen. He was eventually buried beside her in the Taj Mahal.

19. Marie and Pierre Curie

This is a story about partners in love and science. Unable to continue her studies in Poland because universities did not admit women, Maria Sklodowska Curie traveled to Paris in 1891 to attend the Sorbonne. Known by the French "Marie," she spent every spare hour reading in the library or in the laboratory. The industrious student caught the eye of Pierre Curie, director one of the laboratories where Marie worked. Curie ardently wooed Marie and made several marriage proposals. They were finally married in 1895 and began their famous partnership. In 1898 they discovered polonium and radium. The Curies and scientist Henri Becquerel won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 for discovering radioactivity. When Curie died in 1904, Marie pledged to carry on their work. She took his place at the Sorbonne, becoming the school's first female teacher. In 1911 she became the first person to win a second Nobel Prize, this time for chemistry. She continued to experiment and lecture until her death of leukemia in 1934, driven by the memory of the man she loved.

20. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert



This love story is about English royalty who mourned her husband's death for 40 years. Victoria was a lively, cheerful girl, fond of drawing and painting. She ascended the throne of England in 1837 after the death of her uncle, King William IV. In 1840, she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. While at first Prince Albert was unpopular in some circles because he was German, he came to be admired for his honesty, diligence, and his devotion to his family. The couple had nine children. Victoria loved her husband deeply. She relied on his advice in matters of state, especially in diplomacy. When Albert died in 1861, Victoria was devastated. She did not appear in public for three years. Her extended seclusion generated considerable public criticism. Several attempts were made on Victoria's life. However, under the influence of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Victoria resumed public life, opening Parliament in 1866. But Victoria never stopped mourning her beloved prince, wearing black until her death in 1901. During her reign, the longest in English history, Britain became a world power on which "the sun never set."

 


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