History proves that anything can be proved by history, and the stories of some (adulterous) romances rings through its annals like folklore. Stories of love, deceit, lies and above all passion, these stories of famous men and women sure had a red tinge through them. Cupid’s handiwork in some cases is enough to cause seismic tremors in the culture, spawn revolutions and launch some (a 1000!) ships.
Paris and Helen- The face that launched a thousand ships, why Achilles died, and why the legend of the Trojan Horse was born, the story of the love between Helen and Paris is one of the most famous in history. Paris was the prince of Troy and Helen was the (forced) wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta and brother of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae. The Battle of Troy wreaked havoc on the city whose walls had never been breached, and Helen underwent some serious soul searching to ascertain that whether her love was justification enough for this massacre. History aside though, it remains an affair that changed maps, histories and mythologies, and inspired the greatest epic poem Iliad.
Antony and Cleopatra- Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen was somewhat of a seductress, having affairs with men like Julius Caesar and after he was killed, Mark Antony. This one does get points for love and for “torrid”, because they both ended up dead. Antony was married to the sister of Gaius Octavius, a member of the ruling triumvirate along with Mark Antony. Antony and Cleopatra used each other’s influence for their political ends too, but that does not mean that there wasn’t any love between them. Legend has it that on the battlefield against Octavius’ armies, Antony was told that Cleopatra is dead, and so he committed suicide. In the most surprising storyline ever, Cleopatra was alive. She was imprisoned and it is said that she smuggled a snake to get herself killed. A tear jerker if there was one.
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor- This is some serious anachronism (disrupting the chronological order) but we could not resist putting this couple here, because they fell in love while playing Antony and Cleopatra in the movie. Talk about the world being round. This was perhaps the most passionate and intense love affair of those we know of, involving breakups, marriages, divorces, remarriages, divorces (again) linkups.. you get the idea. This Hollywood power couple did 11 films, became famous, millionaires and drug addicts together. Their stories involve so many divorces with each other and other people that it is only love that remained of the two. Flames for a few years, ashes for eternity.
Napoleon and Josephine- A tragedy and a romance Shakespeare would’ve been proud to write, Napoleon was 26 and Josephine 32 when they first met. It wasn’t Love at first sight, but the two did get married. After Napoleon went on to conquer Italy, Josephine began having numerous affairs with other men while our little conqueror was busy conquering Europe. When he came to know, he was (naturally) crushed, and began his own series of adulterous philandering. However, for some strange reason, Josephine became faithful and loving towards him. When Napoleon was crowned the Emperor of France, he wanted an heir, one which Josephine was incapable of providing. So he married an Archduchess of Austria and ahd a son with her. When he was exiled, this Archduchess flew to Austria and Napoleon never saw her again or his son. However, Josephine wanted to join him on this ordeal. She couldn’t and later on upon his return, the first place Napoleon went to was the physician’s house where Josephine was treated. He learnt that she had died of heartbreak, and as a gesture of his undying love, took some violet flowers from her gardens and wore them in his locket until his demise. A song of Despair and love, French style.
Catherine the great and Grigory Potemkin- While we have stories of undying love coming from all parts of Europe, Russia can never be left behind, and the story of the affair between its Queen Catharine the great and one Grigory Potemkin, merely a soldier before their love certainly qualifies. Catharine had her husband Czar Peter III overthrown and murdered and went on to do a great job of ruling Russia. She made her lover Grigory a statesman, General and the head of her armies. Although they split up later on and Catharine had many affairs, Grigory was her one true love, and historians say that she was never the same after his death.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono- John Lennon was perhaps the most famous musician at the time, while Yoko was an avant garde artist with some unresolved issues in the past. She had a daughter from her 2nd husband, while John had a child of his own from a marriage. All this did not stop them from forging a relationship of love and they sough to give the message of world peace together. This relationship however was very controversial and Yoko was blamed for the split up of The Beatles, as well as changing John Lennons’s musical sensibilities. They did split up and came together again an year later, however, it all came to a tragical end when Lennon was shot dead by a deranged fan in 1980. He died in her arms and she hasn’t remarried after.