The two most recognizable characters of star-crossed love are, of course, Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare’s eponymous play. Romeo and Juliet came from two feuding families of Verona, Italy. Their love was forbidden with disasterous results. Aside from Romeo and Juliet, there are many more literary and historical examples of unrequited or star-crossed love. We need only to look at certain mythological figures, characters from the Bible, other poetic and literary sources, and/or the history books to find many other illustrious men and women who who conjure up these romantic notions. Let’s take a look.
Biblically speaking, we guess it could be said that Adam and Eve were perhaps the first star-crossed lovers. At least from the perspective that Eve ruined everything by eating that forbidden apple. Then there was Delilah who betrayed her honey Samson by cutting off his hair and thus diminishing his strength.
In mythology, Daphne had to run from the advances of Apollo, all thanks to the tricks of Ero’s love arrows. Or how about Helen, after fleeing with Paris to Troy, who "launched a thousand ships" and started the Trojan War. Now that was love with consequences! In Celtic mythology, who can forget Guinevere and Lancelot? It was they who brought down Camelot. Also from the Celts comes the story of Tristan and Isolde and their star-crossed love affair. Irish mythology also reminds us of King Conor of Ulster and his ill-fated desire for Deirdre.
Literature provides us with even more examples outside of Romeo and Juliet. The 14th century Italian poet Dante gave us the story of Francesca in his The Divine Comedy. Those romantic Italian poets also gave us Laura, Orlando and Angelica. Look them up for their romantic love stories! Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler are also more modern (and American) examples of literary star-crossed lovers.
Historically true, the Arabs gave us Leila who Eric Clapton immortalized in his beautiful song Layla. Beatrice was also a real life muse to Dante Alighieri, and his unrequited love for her is immortalized in several of his works. In medieval France, there was also a legendary unrequited love-affair between a woman named Héloïse (Eloise) and well-known philosopher Pierre Abélard.