|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/02/20 12:27 《英语学习》|
Antony and Cleopatra
The last Pharaoh of Egypt and the dashing Roman general
One of the most famous women in history, Cleopatra VII was the brilliant and beautiful last Pharaoh of Egypt. Although she is often portrayed as a femme fatale, Cleopatra was deeply religious and studied to be a nun. An accomplished mathematician and gifted linguist fluent in nine languages, Cleopatra was also skilled politician popular with her people.
She married her younger brother, Ptolemy, and she became the mistress of the Roman general Julius Caesar. Following Caesar's death, Roman general Marc Antony went to Egypt to advance the growing power of Rome. Cleopatra captivated Antony. Their affair scandalized Roman society and bothered Roman politicians, who were suspicious of Egypt's power.
Yet despite the risks, Antony and Cleopatra married in 36 B.C. The couple planned to conquer Rome. But in 31 B.C. the Roman general Octavian destroyed the combined forces of Antony and Cleopatra in the battle of Actium. Hearing a false report that Cleopatra was dead, Antony fell on his sword. With no hope left, Cleopatra induced a poisonous asp to bite her.
Four thousand years of glorious Pharaonic rule was finally finished. Egypt became a Roman province. Octavian (later Augustus*) became the first Roman Emperor, launching a new era in history.
Abelard and Heloie
A monk and a nun whose love letters became world famous
The tragic story of Abelard and Heloise has resonated through the ages. Around 1,100, Peter Abelard went to Paris to study at the school of Notre Dame. He gained a reputation as an outstanding philosopher.
Fulbert, the canon of Notre Dame, hired Abelard to tutor his niece, Heloise. Abelard and the scholarly Heloise fell deeply in love, conceived a child, and were secretly married. But Fulbert was furious, so Abelard sent Heloise to safety in a convent.
Thinking that he intended to abandon Heloise, Fulbert had his servants castrate Abelard while he slept. Abelard became a monk and devoted his life to learning. The heartbroken Heloise became a nun. Despite their separations and tribulations, Abelard and Heloise remained in love.
Their poignant love letters were later published.
John Alden and Priscilla Mullins
One of the earliest romances in the American colonies
Immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1858 poem, The Courtship of Miles Standish, John Alden's marriage to Priscilla Mullins was one of the earliest romances in the American colonies. While the story is not verifiable, many experts do believe it in fact happened.
Alden and Mullins arrived on the Mayflower in 1630. Shortly thereafter, Standish, "a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of actions," according to Longfellow, took a liking to Mullins, "the loveliest maiden of Plymouth."
However, although Standish was fearless in battle, he was too shy to confront Mullins directly, so he sent his young friend, Alden. The soft-spoken Alden was "Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion/Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof..."
After Alden had pleaded Standish's case, Mullins said, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" It was clear that Alden and Mullins were in love, but the couple was afraid of offending Standish. When they received word that the captain had been killed fighting Indians, Alden and Mullins agreed to marry. At the end of the wedding, Standish, who had not been killed after all, appeared, and seeing what had transpired, gave the newlyweds his blessing and asked their forgiveness for his previous behavior.
Alden and Mullins had 11 children and were among the founders of the town of Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
English royalty who mourned her husband's death for 40 years
Victoria was a lively, cheerful girl, fond of drawing and painting. She ascended the throne of England in 1837 after the death of her uncle, King William IV. In 1840, she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
While at first Prince Albert was unpopular in some circles because he was German, he came to be admired for his honesty, diligence, and his devotion to his family. The couple had nine children. Victoria loved her husband deeply. She relied on his advice in matters of state, especially in diplomacy.
When Albert died in 1861, Victoria was devastated. She did not appear in public for three years. Her extended seclusion generated considerable public criticism. Several attempts were made on Victoria's life. However, under the influence of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Victoria resumed public life, opening Parliament in 1866.
But Victoria never stopped mourning her beloved prince, wearing black until her death in 1901. During her reign, the longest in English history, Britain became a world power on which "the sun never set".
Robert and Elizabeth Browning
A secret courtship between two legendary poets
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband, Robert Browning, led lives suited for leading Romantic poets. Their story contains all the elements-secret courtship, elopement, love poems, and the beautiful Italian landscape.
Writing poetry as a child, Elizabeth published a book, Poems, in 1844. The work impressed Browning, a poet himself, and he began a correspondence. The two later met and fell in love.
Opposition from Elizabeth's father forced them to elope in 1846. They later fled to Italy, where they lived and worked for 15 years. Much of their work was inspired by their own long romance, including Elizabeth's Sonnets from the Portuguese. After Elizabeth's death in 1861, Browning returned to England, where he continued to write until his own death in 1889.
Marie and Pierre Curie
Partners in love and science
Unable to continue her studies in Poland because universities did not admit women, Maria Sklodowska Curie traveled to Paris in 1891 to attend the Sorbonne.
Known by the French "Marie," she spent every spare hour reading in the library or in the laboratory. The industrious student caught the eye of Pierre Curie, director of the laboratories where Marie worked.
Curie ardently wooed Marie and made several marriage proposals. They were finally married in 1895 and began their famous partnership. In 1898 they discovered polonium and radium. The Curies and scientist Henri Becquerel won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 for discovering radioactivity.
When Curie died in 1904, Marie pledged to carry on their work. She took his place at the Sorbonne, becoming the school's first female teacher. In 1911 she became the first person to win a second Nobel Prize, this time for chemistry. She continued to experiment and lecture until her death of leukemia in 1934, driven by the memory of the man she loved. -
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