Though the Ancient Greeks didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, their myths are full of romance. Take a leaf out of their book this February 14th (or maybe don’t).
1. Apollo and Daphne: Don’t chase — it’ll work out better for everyone.
Virtuous maiden Daphne was wandering around in the wilderness when the sun god Apollo showed up. He toppled head-over-heels in love, and she toppled head-over-heels trying to get away. He took off after her, and unfortunately for Daphne, she wasn’t winning. Instead of conceding defeat, at the last minute she asked her dad, a local river god, to turn her into a tree. Problem solved. Sort of.
2. Zeus and Io: Cheaters are cows — literally.
One day Zeus took a fancy to the lovely mortal Io. Hera, the ever-suspicious wife of Zues, came down to investigate. In a burst of quick thinking, Zeus turned Io into a heifer (so as to be caught with a cow rather than a woman). Hera saw through this and asked for the cow as a present. Io was handed over and made to wander the deserts of the world mooing. So, ladies, no matter what he says, he’s never actually going to leave his wife—and you’ll probably end up a cow and have to trek all the way to Egypt before you finally get turned back into a human.
3. Echo and Narcissus: Some people just like to listen to themselves talk.
Echo was a nymph with a problem. She couldn’t hold a conversation to save her life, probably because she couldn’t speak except to repeat the very last words that someone else had said. It’s not surprising she chose the self-absorbed Narcissus as the perfect partner, since he liked nothing better than to listen to himself talk. But it wasn’t to be. It turned out that Narcissus had rejected one too many suitors of his own, and the god of revenge made sure Narcissus learned a lesson: after falling hopelessly in love with his own unattainable reflection, Narcissus wasted away to nothing. Echo disappeared with him, leaving only her voice behind.
4. Orpheus and Eurydice: Have something good? Take it and run. Don’t look back.
Picture a rockstar, but in Ancient Greece. Swap his guitar for a harp, leather pants for robes of white, and hair gel for…well, nothing. But you get the picture. That’s Orpheus. Things actually seemed to be going well for him and the lovely Eurydice, until she got bitten by a snake and that was it for her. Off to the Underworld. Orpheus, however, wasn’t going to take no for an answer. He finagled an audience with Hades and sang his way to a get-out-of-jail-free card for Eurydice. There was only one condition: he couldn’t look at her until he got her out of the realm of the dead. You can guess what happened. Back to the Underworld. He tried to sing her out again, but they’d already heard that tune. No luck for Orpheus.
5. Odysseus and Penelope: Don’t lose faith — he or she is still out there!
Odysseus and Penelope fell in love and married. Ah, you think you see something bad coming, but you’re wrong. Well. Not entirely wrong. Odysseus did get drafted into the ten year Trojan War. And while he was gone Penelope did have to fend off an army of greedy suitors who wanted her hand in marriage. And it did take Odysseus ten extra years to get home. But they were reunited after twenty years and, after Odysseus slaughtered all Penelope’s suitors, they lived happily ever after.