The Love Triangle in Greek Mythology

by Erin on August 22, 2012

Ah, the love triangle. Three definitely is not good company when it comes to romantic relationships. It seems this story is as old as, well, storytelling itself. Long before Bella (and Edward and Jacob), the tangled trio was already a time-honored feature in literature, poetry, and drama.

The ancient Greeks had their fair share of love triangles, and not just in tragedy. Mythology also gives us some memorable moments when a devoted couple is torn apart by the intrusion of another person into the romance. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite love triangles from Greek myth.

Zeus + (random female) + Hera

The standard paradigm for love triangles in Greek myth involves Zeus, some beautiful female with whom he falls in love, and Hera. So with that in mind, let’s get to know our main protagonists a bit better. Zeus is the amorous ruler of the Olympians. Hera is the wife of Zeus. The only wild card in this scenario is the specific woman who is the object of Zeus’s desire.

There are of course some obvious examples from mythology, such as the relationship between Zeus and Semele, or Zeus and Leto. These unions between the Olympian god and his mortal (or immortal) paramour often resulted in the birth of children. Indeed, Zeus fathered quite a few offspring out of wedlock.

Aphrodite + Hephaistos + Ares

The gorgeous goddess of love was famously married to the god of smiths.

Oenone + Paris + Helen

The tale of the notorious beauty Helen of Troy and her relationship with Paris is the stuff of legend. Did you know, however, that there is another woman involved in this story? Once upon a time, Paris lived happily with a nymph named Oenone…

Echo + Narcissus + Narcissus

This familiar myth may not strike you as a triangle at all initially, since there are technically only two people involved. But notice how the name Narcissus makes the list not once but twice?

{ 1 comment }

Erin 08.22.12 at 8:09 pm

I suppose I should have added one more thing to this post - what are your favorite love triangles from Greek mythology? I’d be very interested to hear about them.

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