The Knowledge of Good and Evil:
An Anthology of Forbidden Love
“We always long for the forbidden things, and desire what is denied us.” Francois Rabelais
(ca. 1000-3000 B.C.)
Oedipus the King
(ca. 425 B.C.)
Sophocles (ca. 496-406) was a Greek dramatist during the Peloponnesian War.
Oh Brothers, Why Do You Talk
Mahadeviyakka was a twelfth-century Indian poet.
The Conference of the Birds. The Story of Sheikh Sam’an
Faridoddin Attar (1145-1221) was a thirteenth-century pharmacist and poet from
The Wound of Love
Heinrich Von Morungen (ca. 1150-1222) from Germany.
The Divine Comedy. Inferno. Canto V.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was an Italian author from Florence.
Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English dramatist born in Stratford-upon-Avon
during the European Renaissance.
“...And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Perhaps one of the most famous works of literature, The Book of Genesis from The Bible, carries a theme that spans thousands of years of literature. Forbidden love or lust has played a role in society for centuries. Whether the works be religious stories, plays, or epic poems forbidden love is a reoccurring theme. In this anthology, the reader will find works of literature concerning forbidden love or lust in chronological order. The works span thousands of years, giving the reader the knowledge that the idea of forbidden love or lust has not changed much over time. However, there is also the idea that what may be forbidden love in one story, is not the same forbidden love in the other. There are different types of forbidden love, many of which are in this anthology.
As mentioned earlier, The Book of Genesis displays the theme of lusting for a forbidden object. After a little coaxing from the serpent, Adam and Eve, even with the threat of death from God, both ate the fruit. Not long after Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God found out and punished them. “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” From this story, the reader can see where characters will often find things that are forbidden more desirable. From this point on, what is forbidden will forever be discussed.
Many years later, Sophocles, a dramatist from Greece, wrote the story of Oedipus the King around 425 B.C. The story explores Oedipus’s cursed fate as he learns he killed his father and marries his mother. Unlike the story from Genesis, Oedipus’s forbidden love is for a person, not to taste a fruit from the tree of knowledge. Oedipus is also unaware at the love he holds for his wife is forbidden. “Oh god-/all come true, all burst to light!/ O light- now let me look my last on you!/ I stand revealed at last-/ cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage,/ cursed in the live I cut down with these hands!” Although never stated, it is obvious as to why this relationship is forbidden. Sophocles demonstrates a love which is wrong in many aspects, although not known to Oedipus until after he marries Jocasta. Oedipus’s life does a downward spiral from this point on as he realized who he truly is.
More than one thousand years later and many miles away comes a story from Farododdin Attar of Iran. The Story of Sheikh Sam’an from The Conference of the Birds tells the story of a Sheikh who denies his Muslim religion to pursue a Christian girl. Far different from Oedipus the King, the Sheikh is aware of his forbidden love from this girl. “I have no faith,” he cried. “The heart I gave Is useless now; I am the Christian's slave.” The Sheikh falls hopelessly in...
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