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Legendary Love: Famous Romances throughout History

Pondering the paramours of the past reveals the tempestuous tales of the things we’ll do for love. Some romances drip with syrupy, doe-eyed devotion, and some personify the rescuer and the victim.

Still others tell the tales of lovers empowered by their sweetheart’s strength. Mythological characters, fictional figures, and even popular icons of the past prove that love has been around forever – and inspire others to take the leap.

Chronicled Courtships

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are quite possibly the most popular poster couple of romance. Shakespeare’s tragic tale of puppy love illustrates the ultimate sacrifice, the choice of death over life spent without the passionate partner. Perhaps a little far-fetched to be pertinent to the present day, but romantic indeed. Ah, young love–impulsive, rash and all-consuming.

Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony

The complicated relationship between these three narrates the story of the siren Cleopatra and her ability to make men fall in love with her. Cleopatra and Caesar were lovers first, and at one point during their relationship, Caesar even proclaimed Cleopatra queen of Egypt. Later, Antony fell in love with Cleopatra while he was still married. The power of love can outweigh better judgment, but resistance is pointless in the face of catlike eyes and raven hair.

Guinevere and Lancelot

As the story recounts, Sir Lancelot, the favored knight of King Arthur’s court, falls in love with his Queen Guinevere. Lancelot rescues her when she is abducted, exhibiting chivalry and courage, the true way to a woman’s heart. However, Guinevere is married. If the story were to be told today, Guinevere would be “the boss’s wife.” If you want to keep your job, hands off; but if love is more important than a paycheck, then you’re truly an idealist with a passion for romance.

The Solo Paramour

Don Juan

The legendary Latin lover, Don Juan is a cunning womanizer destroyed by his obsessive search for the ideal woman. Like the modern James Bond with gold-digging vigor blended in, Don Juan takes great pleasure in seducing women of nobility. His brash tactics eventually lead to his death, but perhaps it is a lesson learned about sincerity and karma.

Starry-Eyed Sweethearts

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Pop culture icon John Lennon fell deeply in love with his muse, Yoko Ono. It was a very intense relationship. Naysayers accused Yoko of taking over John’s life and breaking up the Beatles. Reformed and rejuvenated by what was obviously true love, the two spent years holed up together, raising their son and seemingly living in an uninterrupted love fest. Although others may blame Yoko for John’s decisions, it was he who made those choices. John was fatally shot in 1980 and, in a tragic testimony to soul mates, Yoko still mourns over her love lost nearly three decades ago.

Johnny Cash and June Carter

Truly devoted to her man, June helped Johnny to overcome his addictions, and they married in 1968. After recording several hit duets together, June and Johnny remain one of the great love stories of the modern entertainment industry. June stood by her sweetheart throughout his dark times and dangerous moods with patience and perseverance, contributing to a 35-year marriage. Johnny died just four months after June. Although he suffered from medical complications, some speculate that having lost his best friend and biggest fan, Johnny actually died of a broken heart.

Whether you deem these famous romances an inspiration, a lesson, or a warning, love stories will always captivate their audience. The passionate emotion that is love can turn the wise to fools, the suave to artless, and the coldhearted to enamored romantics. The power of love is unrelenting and undiscriminating, and it just might transform the frigid into burning believers.