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Greek Mythology Created the Romantic Concept of Second Halves

Greek God Apollo, Fresco
Apollo with lyre, fresco fragment, Palatine Museum, Rome. Credit: Carole-Raddato / CC-BY-SA-2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together,” Plato appealed to the myth of androgynes. This beautiful legend gave rise to one of the most popular romantic concepts about finding a second half.

The story has it that at the very beginning of ancient times, androgynes were the first people whose appearance was significantly different from more modern ones. Plato wrote that they were two people of different sexes, merged into one. They had both male and female genitalia, two pairs of legs and arms, as well as one head with two faces looking in different directions. It was believed that androgynes were the children of the moon, who were born from the merging of the sun and earth.

With so many physical advantages and an ability to benefit from a broader world-perspective, they were very strong and fearless. Realizing their own capabilities and power, the androgynes decided to take an ambitious step that led to the destruction of their usual way of life. They dared to challenge the gods. The myth says that the androgynes planned to remove them from the pedestal and take their place and power themselves.

Having just defeated the Titans, the Gods decided to confront a new threat to their might. Enraged Zeus took the lead and punished people for their arrogance, dividing them into two parts with lightning. God warned the androgynes that if they attempted to seize power, he would repeat his retribution and once again separate their bodies, leaving them with only one leg and arm.

According to ancient myths, the separated halves were doomed to suffer without each other. Devastated, they desperately searched for their soul mates, and their lives were filled with pain, grief, and loneliness.

A slight relief came from the god of music and healing, Apollo. He could not bear their torment seeing how they slowly died one by one without each other. Apollo healed the androgynes’ wounds and sewed them in places where they had been cut in halves.

He smoothed out the scars and wrinkles, lining up the skin at the navel as a reminder of their punishment and original shape. Thus, people have acquired a modern look with two arms and legs, forever striving to reunite with their second half.

Apollo greatly facilitated the fate of the androgynes, thereby reducing physical pain and mental suffering. Some of them even managed to find their soul mate, but most continued to look for their second halves. Still, it is believed that their physical nature will tirelessly seek the complement of the missed part. Following the reunion, the lost halves will continue to live in absolute understanding, joint harmony, and higher happiness.

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