The 2400 Year Old Story of Love

by Aristophanes via Robert Krulwich

Once upon a time, people were not born separate from each other as they are now. They were born entwined, kind of coupled with each other.

So there were boys attached to boys, and there were girls attached to girls and of course boys and girls together, in a wonderfully intimate ball.

Back then we had eight limbs - four on the top, four on the bottom - and you didn’t have to walk if didn’t want to, you could roll, and roll we did.

We rolled backwards and we rolled forwards, achieving fantastic speeds that gave us a kind of courage, and then the courage swelled to pride and the pride became arrogance.

Then we decided we were greater than the Gods and we tried to roll up to heaven and take over heaven.

The Gods, in alarm, struck back. And Zeus, in his fury, hurled down lightning bolts and struck everyone in two.

Into perfect halves. 

So all of a sudden couples were now detached and lost and alone and desperate and losing the will to live. The Gods, seeing what they had done, worried that humans might not survive so they gave us a few repairs - they moved heads to the front, moved genitalia around, basically made it easier for us to procreate with others.

And most importantly, they gave us a memory.

Memory gave us a longing for that original other half of ourselves. The boy, or the girl, that made us whole. 

And that longing is still so deep in all of us that it has been the lot of humans ever since to travel the world looking for their other half.