7 Timeless Short Love Stories Totally Worth Revisiting

The stories that get to have the privilege to be passed down from generation to generation are among the best tales that we as humans have ever told. And yes, while there may be a certain difference in topics and takes between cultures, the epics and the classics usually have some sort of representation or other in almost every language.

Short Love Stories

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Among those epic tales and stories of heroics and unheralded bravery, tales of overcoming great odds or paying great prices, of lives lived grand and wide, or even of the wryest satires on the drudgery of the everyday and the propensity of the mundane to consume you for years on end, there is one type of story, yes, one, that we keep coming back to more than ever, and certainly more than the rest.

These stories represent various aspects, situations, scenarios and of the one need that takes precedence when hunger and thirst have been satiated, and the roof over our heads is not a precarious arrangement at risk of being a case of “here today, gone tomorrow.”

1. Cleopatra And Marc Antony

Ancient Egypt and all of its pharaohs lasted such a long time that there are 1300 years to separate Cleopatra form Tutankhamun, the two names that people are most familiar with when it comes to ancient Egypt. Marc Antony on the other hand was a Roman politician who remained loyal to Caesar throughout his life and upon whose efforts the transfer of supreme power shifted from a group to the hands of one (intended to be Julius Caesar himself).

It is hard to imagine a similar situation arising today, but imagine a romance between a Chinese premier and Hilary Clinton and you’d be fairly close (or not). Either way, the epic tale of their love begins with epic circumstances. It begins with an important historical moment that would prompt Shakespeare to write “Et tu Brute?” – the assassination of Julius Caesar.

The first emperor of Rome was a certain Octavian who would go on to crown himself “Augustus” or “the venerable.” Octavian was Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, and he and Marc Antony quickly joined hands to bring to justice Caesar’s killers. They succeeded and then split the Roman Empire amongst themselves, including the subordinate or client kingdom of Egypt (which would fall under Marc Antony’s half) which was then ruled by Queen Cleopatra.

Later, civil war was narrowly averted between Octavian and Marc Antony, partly by Antony marrying Octavian’s sister, Octavia. But as we all know, his heart was somewhere else, and he carried on a long and torrid affair with Cleopatra, with whom he was besotted, and who bore him three children.

This of course did nothing to appease the situation with Octavian who soon attacked to defend his sister’s honor, as well as to reclaim what he thought was his rightful territory. This is where this classic love story takes a sad twist. Marc Antony was defeated and Cleopatra, finding out that she could not seduce and “convince” Octavian, took her own life.

2. Anarkali And Salim

You’ve probably seen Mughal-e-Azam, but here’s the story as it was first penned by Abdul Halim Sharar who clearly mentioned it to be a work of fiction, not that such a caveat would stop it from taking over our collective imaginations over the centuries. The tale speaks of the spoilt prince Salim (later, Jahangir) who would be sent away by Akbar to fight and learn the art of discipline and courage. Returning from war, Salim was a changed man, now ready to assume rule of Lahore. In celebration, Akbar arranged a dance by the beautiful Nadeera, to whom the emperor would bestow the title ‘Anarkali.’ One thing led to another and soon Anarkali and Salim were consumed by the love they had for each other.

But when Salim approached his father about his intentions to marry Anarkali, Akbar refused since Anarkali, though stunningly beautiful, didn’t have a royal lineage. This led Salim to declare war on his father, only to be crushed by the might of his father’s empire. Salim was sentenced to be executed by his father, a fate he readily agreed to, only for Anarkali to step in and ask to be the one who is punished, out of her love for the prince. Their love story also ends on a tragic note with Anarkali being walled up alive in front of her lover.

The story of Anarkali and Salim is one to remember whenever the words “true love” are casually thrown around.

3. Heloise And Abelard

Wherever there is love so strong, there is always an opposition, or so it would seem. And no matter how vehement the opposers, they are never able to quite quell the spirit of the “sinners,” for they are fighting the single greatest force that man has ever known.

Abelard was a brilliant theologian and philosopher who was recruited by the canon of Notre Dame, Fulbert, to tutor his niece Heloise. As passionate and intelligent as her tutor, the two pondered all of the existentialist questions of the time, and grew closer and closer until they couldn’t resist each other no more.

To say that any sort of physical contact between the two was “frowned upon” would be the understatement of several centuries, and yet their spiritual and carnal desires overtook them and before long, Heloise was pregnant. Fleeing to Brittany fearing for their lives, the lovers got married, but the wrath of Fulbert was imminent, and so Abelard sent Heloise to the safety of a convent, a mistake in retrospect since Fulbert thought that Abelard intended to abandon his niece. The result? The castration of Abelard, who would then go onto become a monk and devote his life to learning. Heloise, crippled by heartbreak, became a nun, never to meet Abelard again.

The love letters the two shared with each other, as monk and nun, would go on to become some of the most famous lines of prose ever written by lovers, and besides being able to bring an adult to tears, would prove even almost a thousand years later, that true love is no mythical condition, it is the most potent of all conditions whose legacy simply cannot be destroyed.

4. Josephine And Napoleon

Those who have ever been to The Louvre will know the importance of Josephine. The mighty military general may have been Hitler’s inspiration in “uniting” all of Europe, but as brilliant a military commander as he was, he perhaps did not possess as much skill in the sphere of romantic love, as evidenced by his love for Josephine.

Short Love Stories - Josephine And Napoleon

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Josephine was no ordinary fresh-faced girl whose allure Napoleon couldn’t escape, in fact she was a widower with two children, and that’s not taking into account the fact that she was 6 years older than Napoleon to begin with.
That’s not all, Josephine had previously been embroiled in a series of high profile affairs with a number of leading political figures before she ever got to be with Napoleon. The general would go on to seize power shortly after the French Revolution in a coup, and deciding that he needed an empress, married Josephine, before promptly heading off to war after the wedding.

As successful as he was in his wars, his personal life was to take a hit when he learned of an affair that Josephine was having. Infuriated, Napoleon had an affair of his own (which is known to remedy such a situation), and upon learning that his wife was unable to conceive, he divorced her.

Despite their turbulent relationship, it is said that Napoleon’s last words were “France, l’armée, tête d’armée, Joséphine,” meaning “France, the army, the head of the army, Josephine.” Go figure.

5. Mumtaz Mahal And Shah Jahan

If there’s ever a monument that stands for eternal love, then the Taj Mahal would be it. Every year, countless tourists visit the location and click a picture of themselves with the Taj in the backdrop, and they’re usually next to the love of their life as they do this (or wishing they were).

But why was the Taj built? And surely its appeal doesn’t lie merely in its (admittedly exquisite) construction. It lies in the fact that when his favourite wife Mumtaz died, Shah Jahan was so utterly devastated that he swore to build her the greatest mausoleum the world had ever seen, in memory of her and as a tribute to their love. And it wasn’t just that.

Shah Jahan would then go on to spend many a sleepless nights under arrest after being overthrown by Aurangazeb, and it is said that he would pass the time by looking out of his jail window and staring at the Taj.

How many of us wouldn’t give anything for a love half as strong?

6. Helen Of Sparta And Paris

Greek mythology – a veritable treasure trove for one looking for epic tales – gives us the story of Helen of Sparta and Paris, a love that begins with the young prince Paris having to choose between the three goddesses – Aphrodite, Athena and Hera – as to who was the fairest. The young prince chose Aphrodite as she promised him the most beautiful woman in the world in return. But there was only one catch – the most beautiful woman in the world was Helen of Sparta who was happily married to King Menelaus. Paris, of course, embarked on an effort to bring what he believed was rightfully ‘his’ back to Troy, and wrested what we would imagine to be a very confused and horrified queen Helen back to Troy.

This, of course, sparked the famous Trojan war which eventually led to the fall of the walled city of Troy, mortally injuring Paris in the process. An undoubtedly thankful Queen Helen would later return to her place beside King Menelaus in Sparta.

7. Elizabeth And Darcy

The classic tale of Elizabeth and Darcy as penned by Jane Austen explores two dimensions of any relationship – pride and prejudice – with Mr. Darcy being from a esteemed and polished background and Elizabeth from a more humble and middle class family.

Darcy wants his wife to be as cultured and refined as him, to rule over his estate together, while Elizabeth’s parents were never quite interested in bringing up their daughters in any particular fashion, instead leaving themselves to make their own futures with the understanding that they will do well from themselves anyhow. Mr. Darcy is the the perfect rich gentleman that any bride in such a class would love to have, but he is turned down by Elizabeth initially, allowing his reservations about her character and upbringing to fester even more. Can the two put aside matters of pride and prejudice to reconcile what would eventually become a shared love?

Austen’s exploration of the nature of such a relationship cannot be simplified into a few hundred words, but yes, the two do come to understand their love for each other. It is the process by which they do so that makes the book such an enduring classic, and well worth your time.

A Final Say

Upon going through our selection of seven love stories that we’ve presented here, you will notice that a recurring theme amongst almost all of them is the strife and struggle that two persons endure as they surrender themselves to love, and often, the ending isn’t one that could be construed as “happy” or anywhere near it. However, their legacy and tales live on and are passed down generation after generation, because it is the ideal, the ideal of “true love,” that seems to be, if not infallible, indefatigable.

We hope you enjoyed the read.