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Hero and Leander

Christopher Marlowe

Book Overview: 

“Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?”

The wonder-decade of the English drama was suddenly interrupted in 1592, when serious plague broke out in London, forcing the closure of the theatres. Leading playwrights took to penning languorously erotic poetry to make ends meet: so we have Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece - and Marlowe’s blazing masterpiece, Hero and Leander.

Marlowe’s poem became more notorious than either of Shakespeare’s, due not only to its homophile provocations but also to the scandal attaching to every aspect of Marlowe’s brief life, violently ended in a mysterious brawl, leaving the poem in an unfinished state.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Bacchus hung,
And, with the other, wine from grapes out wrung.
Of crystal shining fair the pavement was.
The town of Sestos called it Venus' glass.
There might you see the gods in sundry shapes
Committing heady riots, incest, rapes.
For know, that underneath this radiant floor
Was Danae's statue in a brazen tower,
Jove slyly stealing from his sister's bed,
To dally with Idalian Ganymede,
And for his love Europa bellowing loud,
And tumbling with the Rainbow in a cloud;
Blood quaffing Mars heaving the iron net
Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set;
Love kindling fire to burn such towns as Troy;
Sylvanus weeping for the lovely boy
That now is turned into a cypress tree,
Under whose shade the wood gods love to be.
And in the midst a silver altar stood.
There Hero, sacrificing turtle's blood,
Vailed to the ground, vailing her eyelids close,
And modestly they opened as she rose.
T. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Absolutely beautiful.

The while upon a hillock down he lay And sweetly on his pipe began to play, And with smooth speech her fancy to assay, Till in his twining arms he locked her fast And then he wooed with kisses; and at last, As shepherds do, her on the ground he laid And, tumbling in the gras...more

Maddeningly inconclusive, and, since no one can seem to agree on whether or not Marlowe finished it before he died, there's no way for the reader to place this inconclusivity into a larger framework. If we know he means it to be ambigious, then we can deal with that accordingly, but if we don't k...more

Hero and Leander
Christopher Marlowe

Tür: Aşk Hikayesi, Şiir, Klasik, Yunan Mitolojisi

Uzun bir mücadele ve azimin ardından Marlowe'un Hero ve Leander'ını bitirdim.

Sevdim mi peki? Emin olamıyorum... Aslında güzeldi; yoğundu ve birazda anlaşılmaz... Ama şiiri okumaktan çok dinlediğim için daha da etk...more

Like, it was beautifully written, but there was some really bad sexism going on. I agree that virginity doesn't have much significance, but it seemed like Leander was saying that just to get Hero to sleep with him. Plus, him saying that a pretty woman who remains single is the biggest sin one can...more

Ah, so beautiful!

Hero and Leander is an interesting long poem. The language is beautiful, erotic, ironic and clever. The story is humorous and romantic. The poem is about a classical story, which is always great for a classics nerd like me. There is some Elizabethan misogyny and Petrarchan objectification, but Ma...more

This poem appears to be a distant ancestor of all those horror films where teen couples die horribly as a consequence of sneaking off to have illicit pre-marital sex. Our cultural obsession with virginity as a symbol of moral purity and an only marginally more subtle form of Patriarchal reduction...more

Boy meets girl, wooing occurs and arguments are made for breaking vows of chastity. This doesn't succeed at first, but the maiden Hero is secretly infatuated with Leander, he is allowed to try again. He swims to get to her room, Neptun tries to make a pass at our hero, but he evades his advances....more


Weirdly funny, actually.

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