The Mythology of Love

Love is central to all of the world's mythologies. Why does love—that most transcendent, yet most personal, of emotions—occupy such a primary place in our most fundamental myths?


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Reference: Myths to Live By Summary & Study Guide Description

"Myths to Live By" including a chapter on 'The Mythology of Love'

Myths to Live By - by Joseph Campbell

In the religious lore of India there is a formulation of five degrees of love through which a worshiper is increased in the service and knowledge of God:
The first degree of such love is of servant to master.
The second order of love, then, is that of friend to friend.
The third degree of love is that of parent for child.
The fourth degree of love is that of spouses for each other.
what is the fifth, the highest order of love, according to this Indian series? It is passionate, illicit love.

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Reference: Wikipedia Love  


Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection ("I love my mother") to pleasure ("I loved that meal"). It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—"the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another". It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one's self or animals.

Ancient Greeks identified four forms of love: kinship or familiarity (in Greek, storge), friendship (philia), sexual and/or romantic desire (eros), and self-emptying or divine love (agape). Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of romantic love.[6] Non-Western traditions have also distinguished variants or symbioses of these states. This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.

Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

Love may be understood as a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species. (Wikipedia)

Sacred and Profane Love (Amor Sacro e Amor Profano)

Sacred and Profane Love by Titian

Sacred and Profane Love by Titian (1514)

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Reference: Wikipedia Titian   Sacred and Profane Love  

Sacred and Profane Love (Italian: Amor Sacro e Amor Profano, also called Venus and the Bride) is an oil painting by Titian, painted circa 1514. The painting is presumed to have been commissioned by Niccolò Aurelio, a secretary to the Venetian Council of Ten (so identified because his coat of arms appears on the sarcophagus or fountain in the centre of the image) to celebrate his marriage to a young widow, Laura Bagarotto. It perhaps depicts the bride dressed in white, sitting beside Cupid and being assisted by Venus in person.

Art critics have made several analyses and interpretations, among them are: Ingenious Love and Satisfied Love; Prudery and Love; the wise and foolish virgins; the dressed Aphrodite Pandemos (left) opposite the nude Aphrodite Urania. or that it contains a coded message about Bagarotto's father's innocence. Nadia Gaus notes that while the title might at first lead one to view the left hand woman as the sacred one, further thought leads to the opposite interpretation: the well dressed woman is Profane Love while the nude woman is Sacred Love. The title itself of the painting is uncertain: in 1693 it was listed as Amor Divino e Amor Profano (Divine love and Profane love).

While the first record of the work under its popular title is in an inventory of 1693, scholars cannot definitively discredit the theory that the two female figures are personifications of the Neoplatonic concepts of sacred and profane love. The art historian Walter Friedländer outlined similarities between the painting and Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and proposed that the two figures represented Polia and Venere, the two female characters in the 1499 romance. A more recent hypothesis declares the clothed figure to be Proserpine the consort of Pluto, and the semi nude her mother Ceres. They are seated on the Fountain Cyane, while the child is Mercury [Paul Doughton] It has been suggested that the scholar Pietro Bembo may have devised the allegorical scheme (Wikipedia).


Romance (love)

Romeo and Juliet portrayed by Frank Dicksee

Archetypal lovers Romeo and Juliet portrayed by Frank Dicksee. (the famous balcony scene)
Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction towards another person associated with love. In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one's strong romantic love, or one's deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately or romantically. Historically, the term "romance" originates with the medieval ideal of chivalry as set out in its chivalric romance literature.

Humans have a natural inclination to form bonds with one another through social interactions, be it through verbal communication or nonverbal gestures. With some individuals, these social interactions can span beyond what one would typically view as a platonic relationship. Positive romantic relationships are a crucial part of society in that not only do these relations affect those that are in participation, but they can also have an influence on those that are in close vicinity.

General definitions: The debate over an exact definition of romantic love may be found in literature as well as in the works of psychologists, philosophers, biochemists and other professionals and specialists. Romantic love is a relative term, but generally accepted as a definition that distinguishes moments and situations within intimate relationships to an individual as contributing to a significant relationship connection.
1.The addition of drama to relationships of close, deep and strong love.
2.Psychologist Charles Lindholm defined love to be " intense attraction that involves the idealization of the other, within an erotic context, with expectation of enduring sometime into the future." (Wikipesia)

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Read the sample chapters at Myths of Love  
Reference: The new book from Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Myths of Love   copy

Myths of Love: Echoes of Greek and Roman Mythology in the Modern Romantic Imagination


Dr. Ruth Westheimer, America’s favorite sex therapist, analyzes ancient myth and its relevance to 21st century relationships in her new book “Myths of Love: Echoes of Greek and Roman Mythology in the Modern Romantic Imagination.” From humanity’s earliest beginnings, people have puzzled over the dual nature of love. For the ancient Greeks and Romans, love was sweet, but it was also irrational, cruel, and often deadly. Faced with the terrible paradox of love, classical civilization produced some of the most psychologically insightful myths of all time—stories of classic archetypes such as Narcissus, Helen of Troy, and Venus and Adonis.

Dr. Ruth and classical scholar Jerome E. Singerman insightfully examine the underlying psychology of the ancient myths and explain why their universal appeal has shaped the imagination of Western civilization for millennia. “Myths of Love” traces how these myths of endured in literature and art across the centuries and how they still influence how we think about sex and relationships today.

Surveying a vast range of Greek and Roman literature from Homer to Ovid, “Myths of Love” retells and reconsiders the full gamut of human sexual experience, from the tenderest expressions of married love to the savage, self-destructive passions of narcissism on jealousy. Bridging high culture and pop culture, “Myths of Love” reveals the secret connections between classic literature and today’s popular novels and films.

A stimulating blend of art, science, ancient religion, and the passions and contradictions of the human heart, “Myths of Love” is a smart and sexy revisit to the roots of Western culture’s eternal fascination with love.

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Amor Vincit Omnia

Cupid as Victor (Amor Vincit Omnia)

Cupid as Victor (Amor Vincit Omnia) by Caravaggio (1601–1602)
Amor Vincit Omnia ("Love Conquers All", known in English by a variety of names including Amor Victorious, Victorious Cupid, Love Triumphant, Love Victorious, or Earthly Love) is a painting by the Italian early realist / post-Mannerist artist Caravaggio.
Amor Vincit Omnia shows Amor, the Roman Cupid, wearing dark eagle wings, half-sitting on or perhaps climbing down from what appears to be a table. Scattered around are the emblems of all human endeavours – violin and lute, armour, coronet, square and compasses, pen and manuscript, bay leaves, and flower, tangled and trampled under Cupid’s foot. The painting illustrates the line from Virgil's Eclogues X.69, Omnia vincit amor et nos cedamus amori ("Love conquers all; let us all yield to love!").

In 1602, shortly after Amor Vincit was completed, Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani, Vincenzo’s brother and collaborator in the creation of the Giustiniani collection of contemporary art, commissioned a painting from the noted artist Giovanni Baglione. Baglione’s Divine and Profane Love showed Divine Love separating a juvenile Cupid on the ground in the lower right corner (profane love) from a Lucifer in the left corner. Its style was thoroughly derivative of Caravaggio (who had recently emerged as a rival for Church commissions) and a clear challenge to the recent Amor, and the younger painter bitterly protested at what he saw as the plagiarism. Taunted by one of Caravaggio’s friends, Baglione responded with a second version, in which the devil was given Caravaggio’s face. Thus began a long and vicious quarrel which was to have unforeseeable ramifications for Caravaggio decades after his death when the unforgiving Baglione became his first biographer. (Wikipedia)

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Sacred and Profane Love by Giovanni Baglione

Sacred and Profane Love by Giovanni Baglione

Giovanni Baglione, Sacred Love and Profane Love, 1602. Oil on canvas, 240 x 143 cm. Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini.
Sacred Love Versus Profane Love (1602–03) by Giovanni Baglione. Intended as an attack on his hated enemy the artist Caravaggio, it shows a boy (hinting at Caravaggio's homosexuality) on one side, a devil with Caravaggio's face on the other, and between an angel representing pure, meaning non-erotic, love.

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Baglione's best known painting, Sacred Love and Profane Love (or The Divine Eros Defeats the Earthly Eros and other variants), was a direct response to Caravaggio's Amor Vincit Omnia (1601–02). Baglione's painting exists in two versions, the earlier in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (c 1602-03) and the later in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica at Palazzo Barberini in Rome. Both show Sacred Love as an angelic winged figure interrupting a 'meeting' between Cupid (Profane Love), shown as in the Caravaggio as a smaller and naked winged figure, and the Devil. In the later Rome version the devil is portrayed with the caricatured features of Caravaggio, while in Berlin his face is turned away.
Click here to see the Berlin version (Image source:



Narcissus and Echo

Narcissus and Echo

In Greek mythology, Narcissus (/nɑrˈsɪsəs/; Greek: Νάρκισσος, Narkissos) was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with the reflection or image that they portray to others.

Multiple versions of the myth have survived from ancient sources. The classic version is by Ovid, found in book 3 of his Metamorphoses (completed 8 AD); this is the story of Narcissus and Echo. One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?". She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn't realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually realized that his love could not be addressed and committed suicide. (Wikipedia: Narcissus (mythology))

In Metamorphoses the poet, Ovid, tells of Hera and the jealousy she felt towards her husband Zeus for his many affairs. Though vigilant whenever she was about to catch him Echo distracted her with lengthy conversations. When at last Hera realized the truth she cursed Echo. From that moment on the once loquacious nymph could only repeat the most recently spoken words of another person.

Sometime after being cursed Echo spied a young man, Narcissus, whilst he was out hunting deer with his companions. She immediately fell for him and, infatuated, followed quietly. The more she looked at the young man the more she longed for him. Though she wished with all her heart to call out to Narcissus, Hera's curse prevented her.

During the hunt Narcissus became separated from his companions and called out, ‘is anyone there’ only for Echo to repeat his words. Startled Narcissus answered the voice, ‘come here’ only to be told the same. When Narcissus saw that nobody had emerged from the glade he concluded that the owner of the voice must be running away from him and called out again. Finally he shouted, ‘this way, we must come together.’ Taking this to be a reciprocation of her love Echo concurred ecstatically, ‘we must come together!’

In her delight Echo rushed to Narcissus ready to throw her arms around her beloved. Narcissus however was appalled and, spurning her, exclaimed, ‘Hands off! May I die before you enjoy my body.’ All Echo could whisper in reply was, ‘enjoy my body’ and having done so she fled, scorned, humiliated and shamed.

Despite the harshness of her rejection Echo’s love for Narcissus only grew. When Narcissus died, wasting away before his own reflection - consumed by a love that could not be, Echo mourned over his body. When Narcissus, looking one last time into the pool uttered, ‘oh marvellous boy, I loved you in vain, farewell’ Echo too chorused, ‘farewell.’

Eventually Echo too began to waste away. Her beauty faded, her skin shrivelled and her bones turned to stone. Today all that remains of Echo is the sound of her voice. (Wikipedia: Echo (mythology))

Cupid and Psyche

Cupid and Psyche

Image: Psyché et l'amour (1626–29) by Simon Vouet: Psyche lifts a lamp to view the sleeping Cupid
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In classical mythology, Cupid (Latin Cupido, meaning "desire") is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus, and is known in Latin also as Amor ("Love"). His Greek counterpart is Eros.

The story of Eros and Psyche appears in Greek art as early as the 4th century BC, but the most extended literary source of the tale is the Latin novel Metamorphoses, also known as The Golden Ass, by Apuleius (2nd century AD). It concerns the overcoming of obstacles to the love between Psyche ("Soul" or "Breath of Life") and Cupid, and their ultimate union in marriage.

The fame of Psyche's beauty threatens to eclipse that of Venus herself, and the love goddess sends Cupid to work her revenge. Cupid, however, becomes enamored of Psyche, and arranges for her to be taken to his palace. He visits her by night, warning her not to try to look upon him. Psyche's envious sisters convince her that her lover must be a hideous monster, and she finally introduces a lamp into their chamber to see him. Startled by his beauty, she drips hot oil from the lamp and wakes him. He abandons her. She wanders the earth looking for him, and finally submits to the service of Venus, who tortures her. The goddess then sends Psyche on a series of quests. Each time she despairs, and each time she is given divine aid. On her final task, she is to retrieve a dose of Proserpina's beauty from the underworld. She succeeds, but on the way back can't resist opening the box in the hope of benefitting from it herself, whereupon she falls into a torpid sleep. Cupid finds her in this state, and revives her by returning the sleep to the box. Jupiter grants her immortality so the couple can be wed as equals.

The story's Neoplatonic elements and allusions to mystery religions accommodate multiple interpretations, and it has been analyzed as an allegory and in light of folktale, Märchen or fairy tale, and myth. Often presented as an allegory of love overcoming death, the story was a frequent source of imagery for Roman sarcophagi and other extant art of antiquity. Since the rediscovery of Apuleius's novel in the Renaissance, the reception of Cupid and Psyche in the classical tradition has been extensive. The story has been retold in poetry, drama, and opera, and depicted widely in painting, sculpture, and various media. (Wikipedia)


The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus - Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli - La nascita di Venere The Birth of Venus, 1486. Uffizi, Florence

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The painting is on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy

Here we see the aftermath of Venus's creation. It depicts the moment the goddess Venus, emerged from the sea as an adult woman on a shell, arriving at the seashore. On her left are the God of the winds, Zephyrus and the gentle breeze Aura, On her right the Horae, Goddess of the Seasons, waits to receive her and spreads out a magnificent robe for her.
The work would mean the birth of love and beauty.

Venus (/ˈviːnəs/, Classical Latin: /ˈwɛnʊs/) is the Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire. In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.
The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus becomes one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars by Sandro Botticelli (1483)- National Gallery, UK
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It shows the Roman gods Venus and Mars in an allegory of beauty and valour. The youthful and voluptuous couple recline in a forest setting, surrounded by playful satyrs. The painting is typically held as an ideal of sensuous love, of pleasure and play.

In the painting Venus watches Mars sleep while two infant satyrs play, carrying his helmet and lance as another rests inside his breastplate under his arm. A fourth blows a small conch shell in his ear in an effort to wake him. Although the work draws from classical sources, perhaps in particular the description by Lucian of a lost painting of the marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxana, it diverges from these in important aspects, and is a product of early Renaissance Neoplatonist thinking. The scene is set in a haunted forest, and the sense of perspective and horizon extremely tight and compact. The sea from which Venus emerged can be seen in the distant background. In the foreground, a swarm of wasps hovers around Mars' head, possibly as a symbol that love is often accompanied by pain. (Wikipedia)

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Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice by Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein 1806
Orpheus is the Greek mythological musician who is also ddeply in love with his wife Eurydice, an oak nymph.

Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who loved her dearly; on their wedding day, he played joyful songs as his bride danced through the meadow. One day, Aristaeus saw and pursued Eurydice, who stepped on a viper, was bitten, and died instantly.
Distraught, Orpheus played and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and deities wept and told him to travel to the Underworld to retrieve her, which he gladly did.
After his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone, his singing so sweet that even the Erinyes wept, he was allowed to take her back to the world of the living. In another version, Orpheus played his lyre to put Cerberus, the guardian of Hades, to sleep, after which Eurydice was allowed to return with Orpheus to the world of the living.
Either way, the condition was attached that he must walk in front of her and not look back until both had reached the upper world. Soon he began to doubt that she was there, and that Hades had deceived him. Just as he reached the portals of Hades and daylight, he turned around to gaze on her face, and because Eurydice had not yet crossed the threshold, she vanished back into the Underworld.
When Orpheus later was killed by the Maenads at the orders of Dionysus, his soul ended up in the Underworld where he was reunited with Eurydice. (Wikipedia)

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Freyr and Gerðr - Norse Mythology

Freyr (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.Skirnir's Message to Gerd (1908) by W. G. Collingwood
Left: "Freyr" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts. The sun shining behind them, the Vanir god Freyr stands with his boar Gullinbursti and holds his magic sword.
Right: A section of Skirnir's Message to Gerd (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.
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One of the best-known legends about Freyr explains how he fell in love with a female giant named Gerðr (Gerda) from the moment he saw her. Freyr decided to make her his bride. He sent his servant Skirnir to try to convince Gerda to marry him. She refused at first but later agreed. Freyr gave his magic sword to Skirnir in return for winning Gerda for him at the price of his future doom.

The courtship of Freyr and Gerðr is dealt with extensively in both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. Freyr sees Gerðr from a distance, becomes deeply lovesick at the sight of her shimmering beauty. Njörðr and Skaði ask Skírnir to go and talk with him. Freyr reveals the cause of his grief and asks Skírnir to go to Jötunheimr to woo Gerðr for him. Freyr gives Skírnir a steed and his magical sword for the journey.

In the Poetic Edda Gerðr initially refuses, yet after a series of threats by Skírnir she finally agrees. In the Prose Edda, no mention of threats are made. In both sources, Gerðr agrees to meet Freyr at a fixed time at the location of Barri and, after Skírnir returns with Gerðr's response, Freyr laments that the meeting could not occur sooner. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Gerðr is described as the daughter of Gymir and the mountain jötunn Aurboða. (Wikipedia)

Details of Freyr and Gerðr story in Norse Mythology



Xochiquetzal - Aztec goddess of love

Xochiquetzal - Aztec goddess of love

Xochiquetzal, from the Codex Rios, 16th century.
In Aztec mythology, Xochiquetzal (Classical Nahuatl: Xōchiquetzal /ʃoːtʃiˈketsaɬ/), also called Ichpochtli, meaning "maiden", was a goddess associated with concepts of fertility, beauty, and female sexual power, serving as a protector of young mothers and a patroness of pregnancy, childbirth, and the crafts practised by women such as weaving and embroidery.
Unlike several other figures in the complex of Aztec female earth deities connected with agricultural and sexual fecundity, Xochiquetzal is always depicted as an alluring and youthful woman, richly attired and symbolically associated with vegetation and in particular flowers. By connotation, Xochiquetzal is also representative of human desire, pleasure, and excess, appearing also as patroness of prostitutes and artisans involved in the manufacture of luxury items

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Clíodhna - Irish Mythology

Clíodhna - Irish Mythology  : Female surfer

In Irish mythology, Clíodhna (transliterated to Cleena in English) is a Queen of the Banshees (fairies) of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Cleena of Carrigcleena is the potent banshee that rules as queen over the sidheog (fairy women of the hills) of South Munster, or Desmond. She is the principal goddess of this country.
In some Irish myths Clíodhna is a goddess of love and beauty. She is said to have three brightly coloured birds who eat apples from an otherworldly tree and whose sweet song heals the sick. She leaves the otherworldly island of Tir Tairngire ("the land of promise") to be with her mortal lover, Ciabhán, but is taken by a wave as she sleeps due to the music played by a minstrel of Manannan mac Lir in Glandore harbour in County Cork: the tide there is known as Tonn Chlíodhna, "Clíodhna's Wave". Whether she drowns or not depends on the version being told, along with many other details of the story.
She had her palace in the heart of a pile of rocks, five miles from Mallow, which is still commonly known by the name of Carrig-Cleena, and numerous legends about her are told among the Munster peasantry. (Wikipedia)

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Yue Lao - Chinese Mythology

Yue Lao

Yue Lao (Chinese: 月下老人; pinyin: Yuè Xià Lǎorén; literally: "old man under the moon"), is a god of marriage and love in Chinese mythology. He appears as an old man under the moon. He appears at night, and "unites with a red cord all predestined couples, after which nothing can prevent their union."

A legend is told about the old man under the moon. During the Tang Dynasty, there was a young man named Wei Gu (韋固 Wéi Gù). Once he was passing the city of Songcheng, where he saw an old man leaning on his pack reading a book in the moonlight. Being amazed at it, Wei Gu walked up and asked what he was doing. The old man answered, "I am reading a book of marriage listing for who is going to marry whom. In my pack are red cords for tying the feet of husband and wife." When Wei Gu and the old man came together to a marketplace, they saw a blind old woman carrying a three-year-old little girl in her arms. The old man said to Wei Gu," This little girl will be your wife in the future." Wei Gu did not like what he saw and ordered his servant to kill the girl. The servant managed only to stab the girl between her brows.
Fourteen years later, Wang Tai, the governor of Xiangzhou, gave Wei Gu his daughter in marriage. She was a beautiful young woman always with a colorful flower placed on her forehead. When Wei Gu asked what had happened, he was told that she had been stabbed by a man in the marketplace fourteen years before.

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Hathor - Egyptian Mythology


The goddess Hathor wearing her headdress, a sun disk with Uraeus set between the cow-horns
Hathor is depicted in many forms, most commonly as a woman with cow-horns and sun disk. Isis could also be depicted in this form, and the two can only be surely distinguished by the inscription. In other forms, Hathor was depicted wearing the hieroglyph for 'west', or in a fully bovine form. Hathor is often shown holding the was scepter. (The was ("power, dominion") sceptre is a symbol that appeared often in relics, art, and hieroglyphics associated with the ancient Egyptian religion. It appears as a stylized animal head at the top of a long, straight staff with a forked end.)

Hathor (/ˈhæθɔr/ or /ˈhæθər/; Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr; in Greek: Άθωρ, meaning "mansion of Horus") is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Hathor was worshiped by royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as "Mistress of the West" welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands and fertility who helped women in childbirth, as well as the patron goddess of miners.
The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults which venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows.
Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace. Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is "housed" in her. (Wikipedia)

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The Myth of Romantic Love

Debunking Five Myths of Romantic Love

Pretty-woman movie scene

Debunking Five Myths of Romantic Love

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The Myth of Romantic Love

The Myth of Romantic Love

The Myth of Romantic Love

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TROMANTIC LOVE IS A HOAX! - When Bill met Hillary


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Viewpoint: Down with romantic love

Down with romantic love - kim kardashian and Kanye West

Down with romantic love

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Hero and Leander

The Last Watch of Hero

Hero and Leander is the Greek myth relating the story of Hero (Ancient Greek: Ἡρώ, Hērṓ; pron. like "hero" in English), a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower in Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont (today's Dardanelles), and Leander (Ancient Greek: Λέανδρος, Léandros), a young man from Abydos on the opposite side of the strait. Leander fell in love with Hero and would swim every night across the Hellespont to be with her. Hero would light a lamp at the top of her tower to guide his way.
Succumbing to Leander's soft words and to his argument that Venus, as the goddess of love, would scorn the worship of a virgin, Hero allowed him to make love to her. These trysts lasted through the warm summer. But one stormy winter night, the waves tossed Leander in the sea and the breezes blew out Hero's light; Leander lost his way and was drowned. When Hero saw his dead body, she threw herself over the edge of the tower to her death to be with him. (Wikipedia)

Image: The Last Watch of Hero by Frederic Leighton, depicting Hero anxiously waiting for Leander during the storm.
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Pyramus and Thisbe

Thisbe by John William Waterhouse

Pyramus and Thisbē are a pair of ill-fated lovers whose story forms part of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The story has since been retold by many authors.
In the Ovidian version, Pyramus and Thisbe are two lovers in the city of Babylon who occupy connected houses/walls, forbidden by their parents to be wed, because of their parents' rivalry. Through a crack in one of the walls, they whisper their love for each other. They arrange to meet near Ninus' tomb under a mulberry tree and state their feelings for each other. Thisbe arrives first, but upon seeing a lioness with a mouth bloody from a recent kill, she flees, leaving behind her veil. When Pyramus arrives he is horrified at the sight of Thisbe's veil, assuming that a wild beast has killed her. Pyramus kills himself, falling on his sword in proper Roman fashion, and in turn splashing blood on the white mulberry leaves. Pyramus' blood stains the white mulberry fruits, turning them dark. Thisbe returns, eager to tell Pyramus what had happened to her, but she finds Pyramus' dead body under the shade of the mulberry tree. Thisbe, after a brief period of mourning, stabs herself with the same sword. In the end, the gods listen to Thisbe's lament, and forever change the colour of the mulberry fruits into the stained colour to honour the forbidden love. (Wikipedia)

Image: Thisbe also known as The Listener by John William Waterhouse, 1909
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Sohni and Mahiwal

Sohni Swims to Meet Her Lover Mahinwal

Sohni Mahiwal (Punjabi: ਸੋਹਣੀ ਮਹੀਂਵਾਲ) (Sindhi: سهڻي ميهار) is one of the four popular tragic romances of Punjab. The others are Sassi Punnun, Mirza Sahiba, and Heer Ranjha. Sohni Mahiwal is a tragic love story which reverts the classical motif of Hero and Leader. The heroine Sohni, unhappily married to a man she despises, swims every night across the river using an earthenware pot to keep afloat in the water, to where her beloved Mehar herds buffaloes. One night her sister-in-law replaces the earthenware pot with a vessel of unbaked clay, which dissolves in water and she dies in the whirling waves of the river.
The story also appears in Shah Jo Risalo and is one of seven popular tragic romances from Sindh. The other six tales are Umar Marui, Sassui Punhun, Lilan Chanesar, Noori Jam Tamachi, Sorath Rai Diyach and Momal Rano commonly known as Seven Heroines (Sindhi: ست سورميون ) of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Shah begins the story at the most dramatic moment, when a young woman cries out for help in the cold river, attacked by crocodiles. The whole chapter (Sur Sohni) is merely an extension of this dreadful and yet hoped-for moment when the vessel of her body breaks and she, faithful to her pre-eternal love-covenant with Mehar, will be forever united through death.
Sohni is one of the favourite folktales both in Sindh and Punjab, Pakistan and India. (Wikipedia)

Image: Sohni Swims to Meet Her Lover Mahinwal, Style of Faqir Ullah Khan (India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow or Farrukhabad, circa 1780)
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Laila and Majnu

Layla and Majnun meet for the last time before their deaths

Layla and Majnun (English: Possessed by madness for Layla; Persian: لیلی و مجنون عامری‎ (Leyli o Majnun); Arabic: مجنون لیلی‎ (Majnun Layla)) is a love story that originated as a short, anecdotal poem in ancient Arabia, later significantly expanded and popularized in a literary adaptation by Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi who also wrote "Khosrow and Shirin". It is the third of his five long narrative poems, Khamsa (the Quintet).
Qays and Layla fall in love with each other when they are young, but when they grow up Layla’s father doesn't allow them to be together. Qays becomes obsessed with her, and the community gives him the epithet Majnun (مجنون, lit. "possessed"), the same epithet given to the semi-historical character Qays ibn al-Mulawwah of the Banu 'Amir tribe. Long before Nizami, the legend circulated in anecdotal forms in Arabic akhbar. The early anecdotes and oral reports about Majnun are documented in Kitab al-Aghani and Ibn Qutaybah's al-Shi'r wal-Shu'ara'. The anecdotes are mostly very short, only loosely connected, and show little or no plot development. (Wikipedia)

Image: “The fainting of Laylah and Majnun”. This folio depicts a well-known passage from the tragic story of Layla and Majnun described in the third book of Nizami's "Khamsah" (Quintet). Forcibly separated by their respective tribes' animosity, forced marriage, and years of exile into the wilderness, these two ill-fated lovers meet again for the last time before their deaths thanks to the intervention of Majnun's elderly messenger. Upon seeing each other in a palm-grove immediately outside of Laylah's camp, they faint of extreme passion and pain. The old man attempts to revive the lovers, while the wild animals protective of Majnun ("The King of Wilderness") attack unwanted intruders.
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The Butterfly Lovers

Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai- The Butterfly Lovers

The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers, Liang Shanbo (梁山伯) and Zhu Yingtai (祝英台), whose names form the title of the story. The title is often abbreviated to Liang Zhu (梁祝).
The legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai is set in the Eastern Jin dynasty (265-420 CE).
Zhu Yingtai is the ninth child and only daughter of the wealthy Zhu family of Shangyu, Zhejiang. Although women are traditionally discouraged from taking up scholarly pursuits, Zhu manages to convince her father to allow her to attend classes in disguise as a man. During her journey to Hangzhou, she meets Liang Shanbo, a scholar from Kuaiji (present-day Shaoxing). They chat and feel a strong affinity for each other at their first meeting. Hence, they gather some soil as incense and take an oath of fraternity in the pavilion of a thatched bridge.
They study together for the next three years in school and Zhu gradually falls in love with Liang. Although Liang equals Zhu in their studies, he is still a bookworm and fails to notice the feminine characteristics exhibited by his classmate.
One day, Zhu receives a letter from her father, asking her to return home as soon as possible. Zhu has no choice but to pack her belongings immediately and bid Liang farewell. However, in her heart, she has already confessed her love for Liang and is determined to be with him for all eternity. Before her departure, she reveals her true identity to the headmaster's wife and asks her to pass a jade pendant to Liang as a betrothal gift.
Liang accompanies his "sworn brother" for 18 miles to see her off. During the journey, Zhu hints to Liang that she is actually a woman. For example, she compares them to a pair of mandarin ducks (a symbol of lovers in Chinese culture), but Liang does not catch her hints and does not even have the slightest suspicion that his companion is a woman in disguise. Zhu finally comes up with an idea and tells Liang that she will act as a matchmaker for him and his "sister". Before they part, Zhu reminds Liang to visit her residence later so he can propose to marry her "sister." Liang and Zhu reluctantly part ways at the Changting pavilion.
Months later, when Liang visits Zhu, he discovers that she is actually a woman. They are devoted to and passionate about each other and they make a vow to the effect of "till death do us part". The joy of their reunion is short-lived as Zhu's parents have already arranged for her to marry Ma Wencai, a man from a rich family. Liang is heartbroken when he hears the news and his health gradually deteriorates until he becomes critically ill. He dies in office later as a county magistrate.
On the day of Ma and Zhu's marriage, strong winds prevent the wedding procession from escorting the bride beyond Liang's grave, which lies along the journey. Zhu leaves the procession to pay her respects at Liang's grave. She descends in bitter despair and begs for the grave to open up. Suddenly, the grave opens with a clap of thunder. Without further hesitation, Zhu throws herself into the grave to join Liang. Their spirits turn into a pair of butterflies, emerge from the grave, fly away together and are never to be separated again. (Wikipedia)

Image: Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai- The Butterfly Lovers
Image source: Tourism Commission

Meng Jiang Nü

Statue of Mengjiangnu near East end of the Great Wall

Lady Meng Jiang or Meng Jiang Nü (Chinese: 孟姜女; pinyin: Mèng Jiāng Nǚ), is a Chinese tale, with many variations. Later versions are set in the Qin dynasty, when Lady Meng Jiang's husband was pressed into service by imperial officials and sent as corvee labor to build the Great Wall of China. Lady Meng Jiang heard nothing after his departure, so she set out to bring him winter clothes. Unfortunately, by the time she reached the Great Wall, her husband had already died. Hearing the bad news, she wept so bitterly that a part of the Great Wall collapsed, revealing his bones.
The legend developed into many versions with variations in both form and content. The scholar Wilt Idema has selected and published ten versions of the legend, which, in the publisher's words, "emphasize different elements of the story – the circumstances of Meng Jiangnu's marriage, her relationship with her parents-in-law, the journey to the wall, her grief, her defiance of the emperor. (Wikipedia)
Popular versions tell the reader that this story happened during the reign of the wicked, unjust Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who decided to build a wall to keep the barbarians from invading his kingdom. But the wall kept disintegrating, and the construction made little progress. A clever scholar told the Emperor "Your method of building the wall is making the whole country tremble and will cause many revolts to break out. I have heard of a man called Wan Xiliang. Since the name 'Wan' means 'ten-thousand,' You need only fetch this one man." The Emperor was delighted and sent for Wan, but Wan heard of the danger and ran away.
In one version, Wan Xiliang flees the hardship of labor on the Great Wall in the north and enters the Meng family garden to hide in a tree and sees the young lady bathing. He at first refuses her demand that she be his wife, saying that such a well-born woman cannot marry a conscript, but she replies "A woman's body cannot be seen by more than one man".
In the form which came to be most common, after suffering pain and exhaustion laboring on the Great Wall, Wan Xiliang died. When winter came, Lady Meng Jiang had heard no news and insisted on taking winter garments to her husband. Over her parents' objections and paying no attention to her own fatigue, she traveled over mountains and rivers to arrive at the Great Wall, only to find that her husband had died. She collapsed in tears. She did not know how to identify her husband's bones, and cried until the wall collapsed and exposed a pile of human bones. She still could not identify her husband's remains, so she pricked her finger and prayed that her blood would penetrate only her husband's bones.
When the Emperor heard of Lady Meng, he had her brought before him. Her beauty so struck him that he decided to marry her. She agreed only on three conditions: First, a festival of 49 days should be held in her husband's honor; second, the Emperor and all his officials should be present at the burial; and, third, he should build a terrace 49 feet tall on the bank of the river, where she would make a sacrificial offering to her husband. After these three conditions were met, she would marry the Emperor. Qin Shi Huangdi granted her requests at once. When all was ready she climbed the terrace and began to curse the Emperor and denounce his cruelty and wickedness. When she had finished, she leaped into the river and drowned herself. (Wikipedia)

Image: Statue of Mengjiangnu
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The Mythology of Homosexual Love and LGBT themes

LGBT themes in mythology

Biblical Prince Jonathan and David embrace

Biblical Prince Jonathan and David embrace
LGBT themes in mythology refers to mythologies and religious narratives that include stories of romantic affection or sexuality between figures of the same sex or feature divine actions that result in changes in gender. These myths have been interpreted as forms of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) expression, and modern conceptions of sexuality and gender have been applied to them. Many mythologies ascribe homosexuality and gender variance in humans to the action of gods or other supernatural interventions. This includes myths in which gods teach people about same-sex sexual practices, or stories that explain the cause for transgenderism or homosexuality.

The presence of LGBT themes in Western mythologies has long been recognised, and the subject of intense study. The application of gender studies and queer theory to non-Western mythic tradition is less developed, but has been growing since the end of the twentieth century. Myths often include homosexuality, bisexuality or transgenderism as a symbol for sacred or mythic experiences. Devdutt Pattanaik writes that myths "capture the collective unconsciousness of a people", and that this means they reflect deep-rooted beliefs about variant sexualities that may be at odds with repressive social mores. (Wikipedia)


Read the article at THE BIBLE AND SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS Fictions and Facts   Copy


The destruction of Sodom as illustrated by Sebastian Münster

The destruction of Sodom as illustrated by Sebastian Münster (1564)

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Ganymede and Zeus

Ganymede and Zeus

The Abduction of Ganymede by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, (ca. 1650), by Eustache Le Sueur.
In Greek mythology, Ganymede (/ˈɡænɪˌmiːd/; /ˈɡænɪˌmid/; Greek: Γανυμήδης, Ganymēdēs) is a divine hero whose homeland was Troy. Homer describes Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals. He was the son of Tros of Dardania, from whose name "Troy" was supposed to derive, and of Callirrhoe. His brothers were Ilus and Assaracus. In one version of the myth, he is abducted by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus.
The myth was a model for the Greek social custom of paiderastía, the socially acceptable erotic relationship between a man and a youth. (Wikipedia)

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Hyacinth (mythology)

Hyacinth (mythology)

The Death of Hyacinthus by Giambattista Tiepolo, between circa 1752 and circa 1753
In the literary myth, Hyacinth was a beautiful youth and lover of the god Apollo, though he was also admired by West Wind, Zephyr. Apollo and Hyacinth took turns throwing the discus. Hyacinth ran to catch it to impress Apollo, was struck by the discus as it fell to the ground, and died. A twist in the tale makes the wind god Zephyrus responsible for the death of Hyacinth. His beauty caused a feud between Zephyrus and Apollo. Jealous that Hyacinth preferred the radiant archery god Apollo, Zephyrus blew Apollo's discus off course, so as to injure and kill Hyacinth. When he died, Apollo did not allow Hades to claim the youth; rather, he made a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood. According to Ovid's account, the tears of Apollo stained the newly formed flower's petals with the sign of his grief. The flower of the mythological Hyacinth has been identified with a number of plants other than the true hyacinth, such as the iris.

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Tu Er Shen - Chinese Mythology

Tu Er Shen
Tu'er Shen (Chinese: 兔兒神, The Leveret Spirit) is a Chinese deity who manages the love and sex between homosexual men. His name literally means "rabbit deity".
According to Zi Bu Yu (子不語), a book written by Yuan Mei (袁枚, a Qing dynasty writer), Tu'er Shen was a man called Hu Tianbao (胡天保). Hu Tianbao was originally a man who fell in love with a very handsome imperial inspector of Fujian Province. One day Hu Tianbao was caught peeping on the inspector through a bathroom wall, at which point he confessed his reluctant affections for the other man. The imperial inspector had Hu Tianbao sentenced to death by beating. One month after Hu Tianbao's death, he is said to have appeared to a man from his hometown in a dream, claiming that since his crime was one of love, the underworld officials decided to right the injustice by appointing him the god and safeguarder of homosexual affections.
After his dream the man erected a shrine to Hu Tianbao, which became very popular in Fujian province, so much so that in late Qing times, the cult of Hu Tianbao was targeted for extermination by the Qing government. (Wikipedia)

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Sappho and Alcaeus

Sappho and Alcaeus by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1870)

Sappho (/ˈsæfoʊ/; Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔ̌ː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω, Psappho [psápːʰɔː]) was a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. The Alexandrians included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost; however, her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.
Sappho's poetry centers on passion and love for various people and both sexes. The word lesbian derives from the name of the island of her birth, Lesbos, while her name is also the origin of the word sapphic; neither word was applied to female homosexuality until the 19th century. The narrators of many of her poems speak of infatuations and love (sometimes requited, sometimes not) for various females, but descriptions of physical acts between women are few and subject to debate. Whether these poems are meant to be autobiographical is not known, although elements of other parts of Sappho's life do make appearances in her work, and it would be compatible with her style to have these intimate encounters expressed poetically, as well. Her homoerotica should be placed in the context of the 7th century (BC). "Lesbian" was first used in the modern sense in 1890, and the early sources which describe her reputation for "physical homoerotic involvement" still "postdate her lifetime by at least 300 years", by which point such conduct was considered "disgraceful for a female."

Sappho and Phaon

Phaon in Greek mythology (Greek: Φάων; gen.: Φάοντος) was a boatman of Mitylene in Lesbos. He was old and ugly when Aphrodite came to his boat. She put on the guise of a crone. Phaon ferried her over to Asia Minor and accepted no payment for doing so. In return, she gave him a box of ointment. When he rubbed it on himself, he became young and beautiful. Many were captivated by his beauty.
According to mythology, Sappho fell in love with him. He lay with her but soon grew to resent her and devalue her. Sappho was so distraught with his rejection that she threw herself into the sea under the superstition that she would be either cured of her love, or drowned. She was drowned.