Love is a universal affection. It was present millions of years ago. One can confidently say that ‘Love’ will remain until the end of the world. As long as this emotion remains, you will have memorable love stories.
Love does not mean physical attraction alone. Of course, it does play a major part. Love is a union of souls. However, society has always reared up its ugly head against the majority of lovers. Hence, some of the love stories have flourished. Some have ended in despair and tragedy. However, there is an element of sacrifice involved from both the lovers. This is what makes these love stories special.
We shall now look at ten such immortal love stories. These stories have been the source of inspiration for various movies all over the world. In fact, these movies are responsible for highlighting these love stories and making them immortal.
10. Salim – Anarkali
At No. 10, we have an eternal love story between a Mughal prince and a courtesan. Salim, the son of Emperor Akbar fell deeply in love with the courtesan Anarkali. His love was so deep that he started neglecting his responsibilities towards the administration. This infuriated Emperor Akbar so much that he ordered the arrest of Anarkali. Salim waged war against his own father but was defeated in the ensuing battle. Akbar sentenced Salim to death. However, Anarkali arrived in the nick of time and sacrificed her life for the welfare of the Mughal Empire. Akbar ordered her to be entombed alive right in front of Salim’s eyes. This story, maybe fictional, is the inspiration for one of the greatest Indian films ever made, ‘Mughal-E-Azam’.
9. Shah Jahan – Mumtaz
The Salim and Anarkali story might be a fictional one but there is no element of fiction in the Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal love story. Shah Jahan is the son of Emperor Jahangir (also known as Salim). Mumtaz Mahal was one of many wives of Shah Jahan. She was admittedly the most beautiful woman in the world at that point in time. Shah Jahan was deeply in love with her and neglected all his other wives. Mumtaz bore him 14 children. She died of complications while giving birth to her 14th child. Shah Jahan was devastated and promised to build the richest mausoleum over her grave. The Taj Mahal in Agra is supposedly that particular monument. Later on Shah Jahan himself became ill. He was overthrown by his sons and spent his last days as a prisoner at Agra Fort gazing at the Taj Mahal. After his death, he was buried next to his wife. It is a matter of contention whether it is a story of love or lust, but Taj Mahal has been the epitome of love since a long time.
8. Layla – Majnun
At No. 8, we have the eternal love story of Layla and Majnun. This is also a fictional piece written by the famous medieval poet, Nizami. Layla and Qays are schoolmates who fall in love with each other. The orthodox Arabian community discourages such acts and hence separates the pair by banishing Qays from the city. Qays wanders aimlessly in the desert and becomes emaciated due to lack of food. Hence, people start calling him Majnum (mad man). An Arab chieftain promises to unite Qays and Layla. He wages a war against Layla’s tribe and defeats them. However, Layla’s father refuses to give Layla’s hand in marriage to Qays because of his eccentricity. He marries her off to another man. The chieftain tries to reunite the love birds after the death of Layla’s husband but remains unsuccessful. This pair does not unite in their lifetime. However, after they die, the community buries them side by side. Hence, their souls unite while their bodies could not.
7. Napoleon – Josephine
The Napoleon and Josephine story is at No. 7 on this list of famous love stories. Napoleon, the French Emperor takes a liking for Josephine, an older and married woman. She reciprocates his love and the pair continues with their adulterous relationship. They develop a deep bond of mutual respect and admiration. This affair lasts for many years until Josephine is not able to supply Napoleon with what he wants. This separates the pair with both of them going their own ways. The separation does not affect the mutual love they had for each other. Thus, this became an eternal love story of a different kind.
6. Lancelot – Guinevere
At No. 6, we have another adulterous relationship between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere. This was during the regime of King Arthur. Guinevere was King Arthur’s wife but that did not deter her from loving Sir Lancelot. Angered at this relationship, Arthur ordered Sir Agravain and Sir Modred to capture the lovers. They nearly succeed in doing so but Sir Lancelot manages to elude them. They capture Guinevere and Arthur sentences her to death. Sir Lancelot makes an appearance and rescues her from the clutches of King Arthur. This episode caused a great divide among the Knights of the Round Table thereby weakening Arthur’s kingdom. Sir Lancelot ends his days as a hermit while Guinevere becomes a nun.
5. Orpheus – Eurydice
We go back to mythology as we have the love story of Orpheus and Eurydice at No. 5. Orpheus is a musician adept at playing the lyre. He loves Eurydice, a beautiful nymph. The Greek God, Aristaeus is also smitten by her beauty. While escaping from him, Eurydice runs into a snake’s nest causing the snakes to bite her fatally. Orpheus plans a trip to the underworld to rescue her from the land of the Dead. He mesmerizes Hades and Persephone with his soulful music. They agree to free Eurydice on the condition that Orpheus must not look back at her until both of them reach the outer world. Orpheus agrees to the condition and starts his journey with Eurydice following him at a distance. The journey takes several days. Orpheus reaches the outer world and in his ecstasy looks back only to find Eurydice just a few steps short of making her entry into the outer world. Thus, he loses her forever.
4. Tristan – Isolde
At No. 4, we have the tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde. This is an incident pertaining to the medieval period. Isolde, the daughter of the King of Ireland is betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall. Mark asks his nephew Tristan to escort Isolde back to Ireland. They fall in love on the way. However, Isolde marries King Mark but continues her relationship with Tristan. King Mark finds it out and banishes Tristan from the country while forgiving Isolde. Tristan goes to Britanny and marries a woman by the name of Iseult. His love for Isolde does not allow him to consummate the marriage. He falls ill and sends a message to Isolde asking her to come to him. Isolde agrees to come but Iseult conveys the false news to Tristan that she has refused. Tristan dies of grief. Isolde also dies of a broken heart soon thereafter.
3. Paris – Helena
The mythological love story between Paris and Helen of Troy is known all over the world. Helen of Troy was supposedly the most beautiful woman of all time. She is married to the King of Sparta, Menelaus. Paris, the son of the King Priam of Troy falls in love with her beauty and abducts her to Troy. King Menelaus wages war against Troy and destroys them. Everyone knows the story of the war and its ultimate result. Menelaus rescues Helen and takes her back safely to Sparta where she spends the rest of her life happily. This love story that resulted in the killing of hundreds of soldiers is at No. 3 in this list.
2. Romeo – Juliet
At No. 2, we have the ultimate tragedy, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. This fictional work is the story of two lovers, Romeo and Juliet belonging to two warring families at that time. Naturally, you cannot expect them to reconcile their differences. This story has been the subject of innumerable plays and movies throughout history. Whenever there is a discussion on love stories, the story of Romeo and Juliet figures prominently. The lovers were never united during their lifetime but their deaths brought the feuding families together. Maybe, that is the only successful note in this most tragic love story of all time.
1. Cleopatra – Mark Antony
We have the eternal love story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony at No. 1 in this list. Cleopatra was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful women in the history of this world. The credit for dramatizing these characters again goes to William Shakespeare. There have been numerous plays and films on this particular story. Cleopatra and Mark Antony fall in love at first sight. This union made Egypt as one of the most powerful countries in the world. The Romans could not digest this fact. They waged war on Egypt. Mark Antony was a famous warrior and literally took the Egyptians to the brink of victory when the Romans spread the false news that Cleopatra had died. Heartbroken of grief, Antony falls on his own sword and commits suicide. Cleopatra reaches the scene and is shocked beyond belief. She takes her life as well. Maybe, this is true love. It can demand the greatest of sacrifices.
Disclaimer: Images are for reference purpose only
You have just seen the ten most memorable love stories of all time. Some of them are real stories. In all the stories, there is a common thread and that is tragedy. Very rarely do we see a love story with a happy ending. This is what makes these love stories mysterious.