They say that love is a many splendored thing that lifts us up where we belong, yet there are some famous couples who have revealed love’s most cruel and stormy face. Check out the tour Love as Chimera, designed by Clio Muse, and explore some beautiful parts of Athens while following the hopeless romantic stories of old Athenian lovers. And if you’re totally fed up with the sappy “they met, they fell in love and lived happily ever after” scenario, these boys and girls will also remind you that lust can, at times, prove fatal…
Heathcliff and Catherine’s Wuthering Love
In Emily Bronte’s famous novel Wuthering Heights, the relationship between the two main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, is the ultimate case of an insatiable and unrelenting in its demands love affair. It all starts out in their youth when the two lovers feel that they are destined for each other, but as the book progresses, miscommunication and jealousy tear them apart and their relationship ends with tragedy and death. Catherine is married off to Edgar Linton, a man whose tender and kind nature cannot match the fire and passion of his wife and her soulmate Heathcliff. When she dies Heathcliff promises to spend the rest of his soul’s existence with her spirit turning into a vicious and tortured creature, one of the most bizarre and enigmatic fictional heroes in the history of literature.
Desdemona and Othello: Envy and Lust
Shakespeare is beyond any doubt a master in the art of writing about terrible love affairs. Of all the disastrous love stories the Bard of Avon has crafted, Othello’s relentless passion for Desdemona stands out as a reminder of our vulnerability to deception and lust. Othello is a Moor, employed as a general by the Venetian state. He falls in love with Desdemona, the daughter of a powerful senator, and they secretly get married. But before the days of honeymoon are over, Iago, a lower-ranking officer, nursing feelings of against Othello, decides to destroy their relationship and plants the suspicion in his mind that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him with his lieutenant Cassio. To prove his claims, Iago acquires a treasured handkerchief that belonged to Desdemona and presents it to her husband. Increasingly maddened by jealousy, Othello orders Iago to kill Cassio and smothers Desdemona himself.
Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’ tragic relationship
Sylvia Plath’s dark relationship with her husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes remains one of the most discussed chapters of her troubled life. They both met at a party in Cambridge in 1956 and fell instantly in love. They started writing poems to each other everyday and got married just a few months later. In 1960 they had their first daughter, Frieda, and in 1962, after a miscarriage that inflicted great suffering to Plath, their son, Nicholas, was born. It was about then that her heart would be broken and a period of great agony and pain would begin. After meeting in their house in Devon Assia Wevill, the wife of the Canadian poet David Wevill, Hughes embarked on a passionate affair with her and a few months later decided to break up with his wife. During the gloomy winter 1962- 1963, Plath lived in a flat with her children writing feverishly. In one of her letters to her mother she says, “I am writing the best poems of my life. They will make my name.” As is well known, she committed suicide by gassing herself in her kitchen. After her death, her collection Ariel was released, the work that established her as a literary genius as well as a window to her struggle against depression, darkness and her stormy relationship with Hughes.
Antony and Cleopatra: Power and love
Cleopatra VII was the brilliant and beautiful last Pharaoh of Egypt. Her first husband was Ptolemy, her younger brother and, as we all know, later became the mistress of Julius Caesar. After his death, another Roman would fall under the spell of her beauty, the Roman general Marc Antony, who went to Egypt to advance the growing power of Rome. They married in 36 B.C and had three children. Ambitious as they were, they planned to conquer Rome, but their plans fell through when Octavian destroyed their forces in the battle of Actium in 31 BC. Upon arriving to Egypt, Anthony was given false information that Cleopatra had died and driven by despair he committed suicide. He lived just long enough to be brought to where his lover had found shelter and died in her arms. Trapped in her mausoleum, Cleopatra tried without success to make a deal with Rome and save her sons. She committed suicide and was buried next to Antony.
Clytemnestra and Agamemnon: Revenge is a dish best served cold
Clytemnestra was a beautiful queen married to the powerful king of Mycenae, Agamemnon. Their troubles started when Agamemnon agreed to help his brother Menelaus to retrieve his unfaithful wife, Helen, and lead an army of Greeks against Troy, where she had found shelter with her lover Paris. Yet, the winds were unfavourable and his fleet, gathered at the coast, was prevented from sailing to Troy. He was, then, told by an oracle that, unless he sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to goddess Artemis, the winds wouldn’t blow. Driven by his ferocious thirst for war, Agamemnon had a message sent to his daughter announcing that she would marry the great hero Achilles and was asked to arrive at the coast for the wedding. Upon her arrival, poor Iphigenia was sacrificed. Clytemnestra never forgave Agamemnon for his terrible act. She took her husband’s cousin, Aegisthus, as her lover and both ruled Mycenae while he was in Troy. After the end of the war, Agamemnon returned to Mycenae triumphant with a young Trojan princess, Cassandra, as his trophy and new lover. Little did he know that he was fated to die by the hands of his own wife as he was taking his hot bath, his blood drawing the thin line between human revenge and divine judgment.
Are you in the mood of discovering more about Agamemnon and the cursed house of Atreus? Just a stone’s throw away from the quaint little town of Nafplio, the archaeological site of Mycenae, with the relics of the once imposing palace and the iconic beehive tombs, still haunts the traveller’s imagination. Take the self-guided audio walk Mycenae tour: In the Bath with Clytemnestra and let Clio Muse tell you the ill-fated story of the Mycenaean royal couple!