My Top 10 Legendary Lovers

This is my fourth Valentine’s Day love list, for Love Week, and today it is the legendary lovers that take center stage!

Number 10: Orpheus and Eurydice

~The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is a tragic love story of Orpheus following his bride to the Underworld.   In the tale Orpheus convinced Hades to release Eurydice if he could prove his trust.   He could not look back until they were out of the Underworld, for he had to trust she was following him.   He failed by turning around only a few feet from safety!    This is the tragic end.

Number 9: Cupid and Psyche

~The Roman love god Cupid fell in love with Psyche when he was supposed to kill her for his mother Venus, who was jealous of her beauty.    He would come to her each night, but made her promise never to look upon him.    She eventually did look upon his sleeping form, and he fled.   She had to follow him (while pregnant) and prove herself to his mother Venus through several trials, eventually earning her place as his wife!

Number 8: Hades and Persephone

~Hades abducted the young maiden Persephone from a field when she was picking flowers.   She is forced to become his bride, and her father Zeus consented to it.   Her mother Demeter spent months searching for her.    Eventually they are reunited, but Persephone has eaten some pomegranate seeds, and that means she must spend part of her year with Hades in the Underworld as Queen!    This is how the ancients explained the changing of seasons, it is spring when she returned to Demeter, and winter when she is with Hades!

Number 7: Aphrodite and Hermes

~Most people would choose Aphrodite and Ares, as he is her most famous lover.   But I love her and Hermes, as they are very fun.    Both of them are lovers of a free love lifestyle and are happy to come together for fun, and go their separate ways when it suits them!    This to me proves how well suited they were for one another!   They also had one child together, Hermaphroditius.

Number 6: Melusine and Raymond

~Raymond is a count who fell in love with Melusine not knowing she is a faerie woman.   They marry, with the caveat that she have Saturday alone to herself.    The couple had many children and eventually would end because of the fact that he admitted to finding out her secret (she was part fish or serpent) by spying on her.    He told her that she was a monster when one of their sons trashed a monastery, and he blamed her.   She did however still visit their children regularly.

Number 5: Isis and Osiris

~Isis is the sister and wife of Osiris.    She is the goddess of magic in ancient Egypt, and she in fact resurrected her husband after he was killed and dismembered!   They were also parents of the sun god Horus.

Number 4: Lancelot and Guinevere

~This is one of the most iconic relationships in all of Arthurian Legend!   Lancelot and Guinevere fell in love and together betrayed Arthur.   Their love is part of a tradition of Queens falling in love with Knights!

Number 3: Robin Hood and Maid Marian

~The tale of Robin Hood is the story of Robin of Locksley, a supporter of Richard the Lionheart, and thief of Sherwood Forest.   With his merry men he steals from the rich and gives to the poor.    He also battled with the Sheriff of Nottingham and King John.    His true love is Maid Marian, who took to the forest with them, and had many adventures with the merry men!

Number 2: Tristan and Isolde

~This is another tale of a Knight who loved a Queen.   Isolde married King Mark of Cornwall, but carried on an affair with his knight Tristan (often also his nephew).    As is common they are caught, and separated, Tristan even married another woman (also named Isolde).

Number 1: Arthur and Guinevere

~As much as I love Lancelot and Guinevere, her and Arthur’s relationship is my favorite!    I love to see them together as a king and queen ruling jointly.    They, in many tellings of the legends, were truly in love prior to Lancelot coming to Camelot!

Note: I realize that I have listed some of the legendary and mythic figures twice, and I know this can be confusing.    My personal opinion is that each relationship between lovers is unique and special, and therefore they are easy to separate out and say that a relationship with one person is good and with another person it is also good (if not better).

Further Reading

  • Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
  • Mythology by Edith Hamilton
  • Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory