Legendary love stories
Pygmalion & Galatea
Pygmalion, probably the most famous from Ovid´s Metamorphoses, was a sculptor, who didn´t like women because of their lascivious life. Despite this he longed for a woman. Well, not like typical women, who he saw as a flawed creatures but perfect for him. He took ivory and created woman. Considering he was a great sculptor, who was able to create wonderful works, his statue was so fair, gentle and realistic. Pygmalion fell in love with statue of woman, who he called Galatea. He could not take his eyes off Galatea and even he knew that it was crazy, he started to giving her different gifts – orient pearls, sparkling stones, lumps of amber, fashionable robes, earrings, necklaces, rings, flowers, pretty seashells, beads etc. As wrote Ovid:
Pleas'd with his idol, he commends, admires,
Adores; and last, the thing ador'd, desires.
He knows 'tis madness, yet he must adore,
And still the more he knows it, loves the more.
His only wish was to give his beautiful statue life. When occurred the celebration of goddes Aphrodite, on the day of festival Pygmalion prayed, beseeching the goddess to turn Galatea into real woman. When Aphrodite took a look on statue, she found out that it looked a lot like herself, so, she brought it to life. When Pygmalion came back home, he noticed a flush on the cheeks of the ivory figurine, when he kissed her, he felt the warmth of her lips. Pygmalion married Galatea and they never forgot on Aphrodite´s help, so, as long as they lived they were bringing gifts to her altar.
Orpheus & Eurydice
Orpheus was the greatest musician and singer. His songs and music were so lovely, that they have power to mesmerize people, soothed birds and animals and calm nature. Legends used to say that Sirens green with envy before his magical voice and even Najad emerge from waves when they heard his songs and music.
His wife was Eurydice, who once upon tearing the wildflowers stepped on a viper. When Orpheus run to her, she was already dead. He was so sad from Eurydice´s dead, so he done something almost impossible. He went to the Underworld and hoped that he will get his wife back. All the inhabitants of the Underworld were impressed by his song of love to his beloved Eurydice. Even Hades, god of the Underworld, and his wife Persephone, who agreed that he could take his wife back. But, they have one condition, Orpheus wouldn´t turn around and look at her. He agreed with this condition and with Eurydice followed Hermes, who led the couple through Underworld.
All the way was Orpheus afraid of Eurydice and when he stepped on the treshold of the earthly world he turned around. But Eurydice was at that time still in Underworld and when Orpeus turned around and looked at her, she disappeared before his eyes. For next seven days was Orpheus searching in the caves and tunnels of Underworld, but without success.
During next four years Orpheus returned to Thrace and wandering the world through participation in the Argonauts´ expedition. He was killed by hands of the Thracian women, because he did not want to be with different woman anymore. They tored him and thrown into the sea. His body was buried at Olympus. Lyre with his head swam to the Island of Lesbos, where was his head buried in the temple of Dionysus and from his lyre made Apollo constellation on the sky.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. Yet, even though their beauty, originality, uniqueness and sophistication were breathtaking, they are probably the least explored Wonder of the World. While from the other Wonders of the World preserve at least ruins, the real clue leading to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon remains hidden. Even the ancient artists describing their beauty drew ideas from older sources. However, we can read the description from different authors, for example we can read one from Strabo, who states that:
„(...) the shape of the garden is a square, and each side of it measures four plethra. It consists of vaulted terraces, raised one above another, and resting upon cube-shaped pillars. These are hollow and filled with earth to allow trees of the largest size to be planted. The pillars, the vaults, and the terraces are constructed of baked brick and asphalt.
The ascent to the highest story is by stairs, and at their side are water engines, by means of which persons, appointed expressly for the purpose, are continually employed in raising water from the Euphrates into the garden. For the river, which is a stadium in breadth, flows through the middle of the city, and the garden is on the side of the river."
Different sources further say, that the fields were so high, that plowmen were working over the heads of people and a wonderful large tree roots irrigated water from the fountains. On the outer edge of each terrace grew thousands of climbing plants. Terraces looked as if they were hanging or floated. In parks flowed rivers, even we would be able to find there waterfalls and ponds with ducks or frogs.
Legends says, that the Persian princess Amytis (Semiramis) received them as a gift from her husband Nebuchadnezzar. Gardens should relieve sadness for her home, because she missed vegetation and landscape of mountains in today´s Iran, where she lived before she descended to the hot and arid plains of Mesopotamia. Nebuchadnezzar ordered his soldier to bring diverse plants from their warpaths. Soon were bringing different plants also various merchants.
Overall the person of Semiramis is legendary as well as the gardens. Therefore, many experts believe, that it is only a kind of legend. However, it would be possible that in Babylon, a city that is famous because of Tower of Babel as well as because of massive walls, could once stand also these gardens. In 1989 Robert Koldewey searched 90 km from Baghdad on the banks of the Euphrates River. He were worked there for 18 years and uncovered outer walls, inner walls, foundation of the Tower of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar´s palaces, wide processional roadway, etc. Koldewey also discovered basement with fourteen large rooms with stone ceiling. According to informations from ancient records we know, that only two locations in Babylon had made use of stone and one of these were Hanging Gardens. Also on the base of other tracks was Koldewey convinced that he actually found remains of Gardens. Of course, there are even opponents who disagree and argue, for example, that the site is too far from the river to be irrigated. However, as stated by Bill Price „in the time of Nebuchadnezzar Euphrates flowed through the city, while now is flowing the other direction, west of the ruins.“
Next, there are also other different theories, which says where the remains of Gardens could be located. According to the historians at Oxford University, they can be found in the neighborhood of Mosul. With another theory came Dr. Stephanie Dalley, who think that Hanging Gardens can be located in Nineveh, also known as the New Babylon.
Wherever are remains after these beautiful gardens located, we can safely say that there were the one of the most courageous constructions, which was inspired by love.
Omar & Fatima, the Well of Love
It was not so long ago, when at the Trenčín castle (Slovak republic) ruled family Zapolsky. At that time started on the south of the country big war because of Turkish invasion, which was suppressed by the army. Also the enemies were taken into the captivity. Surprisingly, officer, who led the enemies, was a woman called Fatima, whose life were saved from death by Zapolsky´s wife. Chatelaine liked her young prisoner because of her beauty, humility, devotion, etc.
Some soldiers, however, managed to escape. One of them was also Omar, a Turkish pasha, who was after a hard battle almost dead. When he get well, he found out that Fatima, his love, is in captivity at the Trenčín castle. Omar wanted to redeem Fatima and offered to Štefan Zápoľský silver, gold, jewelery also precious Persian carpets and many other things but the lord wanted from him only to dig a well on the rock, where is the castle, because of lack of water. So, because Omar really loved Fatima, he, also at the price of his death, started to work on the well to make the castle invincible. Omar with 300 companions spend there three years diging through the castle rock to find precious water for lord. Even Omar suppressed the rebellion of his men. After years of hard work and also many death men, was Omar succeed. Finally he could took Fatima back home, but at the end of his work he said to the lord:
„Zapolsky, water has thou, but not the heart.“
Legend is further telling that when they were leaving the place, Fatima´s veil trapped at the bushes along the castle road. Because of that is the tavern, which arose in this place in 16th century called „Veil.“ Later, as you can find it also now, the name was changed on „Fatima.“
Shah Jahan & Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is a mausoleum made of white marble located on the right bank of the Yamuna River in Agra and built by the order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 17th century. Complex, which includes a large garden, reflecting pool, mosque, four minarets and also other mausoleums, was built as a memorial of his third wife – Arjumand Banu Begum – who get after marriage name Mumtáz Mahál, what means the Pearl of the Palace. For both of them it was the love on the first sight. However, for political reasons must Shah Jahan married Hindu princess. However, since he could according to law marry up to four viwes, Mumtaz Mahal became his third one. They were together for 19 years, during which she inspired him to acts of charity and was belowed for her loyalty and compassionate guidance. She died during childbirth of their 14 child. After dead of favourite wife, Shah didn´t eat or drink for 8 days, during which was locked in his chambers. After this time Shah, who significantly grown old, commanded national mourning, banned playing on musical Instruments, wearing colourful clothes, jewelry, etc.
Then, he swore, that in memory of Mumtaz Mahal, will build ostentatious tomb. Construction started in 1632. Although is the official date of comletion of construction dated in 1648, overall is assumed that works lasted for 22 years. On monument, which total height is 171 metres, were working more than 22 000 workers and 1 000 elephants. Different materials, including 30 different variety of semi precious and precious stones, were brought from all over India and central Asia. But, it should be also noted that many of these stones were ripped off from walls during the Indian rebellion of 1857.
Although was Shah Jahan emperor, during whose reign reached empire the greatest political power and cultural flowering, he died as a prisoner. After completion of Taj Mahal, wanted Shah Jahan build on the opposite bank of the river his own tomb made of black marble and link it with Taj Mahal. Arch of the bridge should meant a symbol of love, which can survive also death. But, emperor fell ill and after year was overthrew by his son. After his dead was buried alongside his wife in Taj Mahal.
Also today we can see Taj Mahal in different colours during whole day. From pinkish hue in the morning, through white in the evening, to the golden at night. People used to say, that the changing of colours are depicting different moods of a Woman.