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Hero and Leander (version 2)

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By: (1564-1593)

Two young people, the epitome of young masculine and feminine beauty, fall in love at first sight, but their union is forbidden by the tyranny of their guardians and of geography itself, for they live on opposite sides of the Hellespont. To enjoy one night of love, Leander dares to swim this formidable strait, unluckily meeting the god Neptune along the way. Unaware of the resentment he has aroused by rejecting the advances of this old queen of the sea, the lad gains the shore and, once past the shock of appearing naked on his lover's doorstep, finds his way into her bed. There the young couple, although ignorant of the facts of life (Hero is a "nun" in the temple of Venus!), discover "all that elder lovers know" by (awkward) trial and (hilarious) error. The unfinished poem ends with one lover having fallen out of bed, the long return journey across the Hellespont still to come and an angry Neptune lying in wait. Although George Chapman continued the poem after Marlowe's death, this reading is of Marlowe's original only.

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