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The myth of the missing half

2 minutes

A lighthearted Ancient Greek myth explains why humans are doomed to yearn for partners

Emotional vulnerability and the risk of heartbreak aren’t enough to deter most people from seeking out companions. Indeed, romantic yearning is considered a central part of the human experience. So why were so many of us created to feel unfulfilled without ‘another half’? According to a myth by the comic playwright Aristophanes, recounted in Plato’s Symposium, humans were once two-bodied creatures until they challenged the gods. Zeus, angered by humans overstepping their bounds, sliced them all in two, leaving us destined to yearn for partnership.

Video by BBC Radio 4

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animation: Andrew Park

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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.
But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

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