Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Ancient Love Stories

By Ann Covode

Are you a romantic in constant search of the one thing that so many novels, poems, and films have been dedicated to, or are you one of those people who doesn’t have much faith in love, if any at all, and who mocks the bold “explorers” searching for their one true love?

Regardless of which group you belong to, here are five ancient love stories that will renew your faith in love. Some of them might be nothing but creatures of mythology or literature and others are probably exaggerated, but the sure thing is that all these stories became immortal in time and part of pop culture due to their deep message for all of humankind: Love conquers all.

William Shakespeare’s world renowned Romeo and Juliet (written sometime between 1591 and 1595) stands in the historical record as one of the greatest love stories ever written. It has been retold many times in playhouses and theaters and has a wealth of film adaptations of both traditional and modern interpretations. It is most interesting to discover then, that Romeo and Juliet was not, in fact, truly of his own creation, but rather a variation on a story told many times from the fourteen hundreds onwards. Centered on the theme of star-crossed lovers, borrowed from poets as far back as ancient Greece, Romeo and Juliet’s tale was told at least a century before Shakespeare actually wrote it.

“Romeo and Juliet” by Ford Maddox Brown (1870)

The first certain tale of the woes of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet descends from Italian author Masuccio Salernitano (1410-1475). Published a year after his death, Salernitano’s 33 rd chapter of his Il Novellino tells of Mariotto and Giannoza, a pair of lovers who come from the feuding families of Maganelli and Saraceni respectively.

One can only imagine the types of adornments these lovers may have worn at the time, but Eve has created some designs that might help you…

Eve’s “Ancient Echos” Necklace

Eve’s “Ancient Echoes” necklace features a remarkable Vesuvian lava cameo from early 19th Century, set in 18 karat gold, with 18 karat gold links and hearts. 2 diamonds totaling 0.12 carats bring a sparkling touch to this beautiful, historically interesting necklace.

Odysseus and Penelope
In our modern times very few people would be able to understand the unique bond between Odysseus and Penelope and even fewer could imitate what they did.
Soon after they got married, Odysseus had to leave Penelope and their infant son to fight as one of Greece’s leaders in the Trojan War. He wouldn’t return home for the next 20 years, a period of time in which Penelope was totally faithful to her husband and declined every offer from the 108 suitors who conquered Odysseus’s kingdom.

The mythical king of Ithaca was equally devoted to his true love, and despite following his biological “needs” a couple of times, he eventually declined most temptations and decided to return home to his wife and son. A story for all of us to remember – true love is worth waiting for and can beat any distance if there’s hope and faith.

‘Odysseus and Penelope’ (1563) by Francesco Primaticcio

 


Cleopatra and Mark Antony
This is possibly the most famous love story in the world behind that of Romeo and Juliet – and without a doubt it is the most popular historically recorded love of all time. The two fell in love at first sight and their love was so strong that it became a threat to the Roman Empire, which kept losing power and control to Egypt because of the decisions made a blinded-by-love Mark Antony.

Despite all the obstacles and warnings, Mark Antony and Cleopatra got married and Antony ended up fighting his own people. According to one version of their story, it is believed that while fighting a battle against the Romans, Antony was informed falsely that Cleopatra was dead and, devastated by this news, took his own life with his sword. When Cleopatra learned of Antony’s death, she took her own life, putting an end to one of the most famous loves that ended in tragedy.

 

Perhaps Cleopatra wore something like these enchanting “Seville” earrings of pearls, diamonds & 18 karat gold are signature pieces from Eve’s “Antiquities” series. These one of a kind earrings feature a beautiful pair of rosey-bronze cultured mabé pearls in the center of the 18k gold elements. A pair of teardrop shaped rose-cut diamonds are surrounded by 18k gold granulation in the permanently attached earwires. These rose-cut diamonds total 0.14 carats. Suspended from sides are 4 freshwater cultured pearls which flutter & dance. Suspended at the bottom of these amazing earrings are 2 tiny cultured Akoya pearls and a pair of tiny shimmering faceted diamond briolettes which quiver and shine as you move and talk.

These earrings are paired with the gorgeous “Surprising Thaw” necklace featuring South Sea pearls, Kazumiga pearls and morganite in 18 karat pink gold and is 19 ½ inches. Also shown is the “Bathing in Bubbles” Kazumiga pearl necklace with an 18 karat gold clasp and a ruby form Eve’s “Klimt” series.

 

Eve’s “Classic Palmetto” earrings

 

Or, she might have chosen to wear these “Classic Palmetto” 14k and champagne diamond earrings from Eve’s “Antiquities” series.

 

Tristan and Isolde

The heartbreaking love story of Tristan and Isolde has been told and retold in various stories and manuscripts. Tristan met the love of his life after traveling to Ireland to ask for the hand of the beautiful princess Isolde in marriage, on behalf of his uncle Mark, king of Cornwall.

On their way back to Cornwall, Tristan and Isolde committed a fatal mistake and drank a magic potion, which produced invincible and eternal love in anyone who tasted it. Despite this, Isolde eventually married Mark of Cornwall, but she could not help but love Tristan eternally. The love affair continued after the wedding, but when King Mark finally learned about it, he banned Tristan from Cornwall.

Tristan and Isolde.

 

Tristan moved to Brittany and married another woman – only because her name, Iseult, reminded him of his true love, Isolde. Despite both of them being married to other people they never managed to get over each other and their sad story ends with Isolde dying on Tristan’s chest in what is one of the saddest love stories of medieval literature.

Pyramus and Thisbe


The story of these two young lovers comes from the Middle East. In the tale, Pyramus is described as the most handsome of all men in Babylonia and Thisbe is said to be the most beautiful woman. Just like Romeo and Juliet, they were members of feuding families and for that reason they met secretly and shared a love only they knew about.

In one of their secret meetings near a lake, Thisbe, who was sitting under a tree, saw a lioness with blood on her jaws thirsty for water. As the animal approached the lake, Thisbe panicked and ran to a cave to hide but unfortunately as she rushed to hide she dropped her veil. When the lion saw the veil, it picked it up and left blood all over it. When Pyramus arrived on the scene and found Thisbe’s bloody veil, he only thought of the worst and was shattered by the idea that a wild animal killed Thisbe. The pain led him to take his sword and stab himself in the chest. When Thisbe returned to the meeting place and saw Pyramus lying dead she killed herself with his sword too.

You might be able to imagine Thisbe wearing this richly detailed, elegant “Palmetto” bracelet is 18 karat gold, with 5 tawny champagne diamonds totaling 0.30 carats and 18 glittering diamonds totaling 0.18 carats.

Eve’s “Palmetto” Bracelet

Heloise and Abelard
In 12th-century Europe, the norm for your average society was to be as repressed and strict as it gets; thus, a love affair between a theologian and philosopher (Abelard) and his younger student, Heloise, scandalized and challenged Parisian society like never before. The thin line between blind faith and logic was violated and the consequences were about to hit Heloise and Abelard hard, who by the way had already been married. The trigger was when Heloise got pregnant; they both realized that it would not be safe for her to remain in Paris and they fled to Brittany, Abelard’s birthplace.

Heloise’s uncle, Fulbert, canon of Notre Dame and the one who had hired Abelard to be his niece’s tutor, in a scheme to protect her dignity (only in his own mind), was the one who put an end to their love by having his servants castrate Abelard while he slept.

Abelard became a monk and dedicated his life to philosophy while the heartbroken Heloise was forced by her uncle to give her child up for adoption and become a nun, even though she remained in love with Abelard, with whom she corresponded for the rest of her life. Their affectionate but sad love letters were later published and continue to touch thousands of people around the world today.

Eve’s “Cherub” earrings

Possibly, Heloise could have worn something like these sweet “Cherub” earrings in 14 karat gold, with a delightful hand-carved image of Cupid himself!

Some love affairs don’t end tragically. One good example is Eve’s relationship with her husband Maurice Alfillé. They met over 60 years ago in Montreal after Eve attended McGill University (Maurice graduated from Berkeley in CA and was working and living in Montreal). On the weekends people went up to the Laurentian mountains for the weekends to enjoy swimming in a beautiful setting. Eve remembers going up there with her friends to stay at a camp and invited friends to join her. They went to a nearby resort to see what the scene was like but determined that it really wasn’t their type of thing but decided to stay overnight for a dance anyway. The next day they were hanging around the pool at this resort. Eve looked quite stunning in her wide brimmed straw hat and was having fun talking with her friends. Maurice noticed this woman on the other side of the pool surrounded by people. He wondered who this fascinating woman was and why so many people were around. Eventually, a mutual friend introduced them and the rest is history!

What is your love story? We’d love to hear it at the gallery. Celebrate love this month! It really does conquer all!