Christopher Marlowe – Hero and Leander (ctd.)

In Sestos, Hero’s home town, every year people celebrate the feast of Adonis, which is an opportunity for general love-making. There are many beautiful girls in Sestos but Hero is the most beautiful of them all and is the cause of suffering for many spurned lovers. On the feast day Hero goes to the temple of Venus to perform her duties, which include killing turtle-doves as a sacrifice (yikes! but also a prefiguration of what is going to happen) We are treated to a detailed description of the rich temple of Venus with its mythological decorations depicting loves of gods. As Hero gets up from the altar and opens her eyes, the arrow of love hits Leander squarely and his look of love in turn kindles the fire in Hero’s heart. Who knows why we fall in love with this person and not the other? For the same reason we root for one runner in the race, or choose one of the two identical gold ingots. “Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?”, says Marlowe in a line that Shakespeare is going to pinch later for As You Like It. Leander kneels down, as if worshipping Venus, but in fact he worships Hero. Hero approaches him, he starts up and their hands touch. Sparks fly and it’s all coup de foudre.

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