The influence of Greek and Roman mythology and literature in Love in Sadness

In this drama, the writer used two legends from the Greek mythology: the death of Hyacinth and Adonis which led both to the birth of flowers: the hyacinth and the anemone. Hyacinth, as a Spartan prince and mortal was Apollo’s lover despite their different nature (human vs. god). Yet Zephyrus, the god of wind, got jealous and killed him with his disc.

File:Kiselev Death of Hyacinth.jpg
the death of Hyacinth; painting from Alexandre Kisseliov (19th Century) Here you can see the disc thrown by Zephyrus

The god of the sun tried to heal his lover and it was in vain. In order to always remember his lover Hyacinth, Apollo created a new flower with Hyacinth’s blood: the Hyacinth.

the hyacinth

Then in the episodes from this week, we were told about the legend of Adonis and the anemone. SJW explained that Venus fell in love with Adonis due to Cupid and Ares got jealous and killed Adonis with a boar.
However, the writer made a huge mistake because he mixed Greek names with Roman names. Romans used to call Venus, the goddess of love, beauty, sex and fertility but Ares is the Greek name of the god of war. Why do the Roman and Greek have the same mythology but different names? After the conquest of Greek cities in ancient times (Antiquity) by the Roman Empire, the Romans adopted the Greek religion, however they changed their names: Aphrodite became Venus, Ares became Mars, Zeus Jupiter aso. Our plastic surgeon was actually referring to the work of a Roman author, Ovid. However, in Ovid’s work Venus fell in love with Adonis by accident due to Cupid. The latter was playing with his arrows, when one of his arrows was punctured in her chest. Her wound was so deep that she fell in love with Adonis, when he appeared.

Venus, Adonis and Cupid painted by Annibale Carracci in 1595 

However, the story of Adonis in Ovid doesn’t mention any jealousy as the reason for his death. It is just said that Adonis loved hunting and one day, he got killed by a boar while hunting alone. On the other hand, the the existence of Adonis in the Greek mythology is explained differently. First, Aphrodite fell in love with the handsome man due to her own trick. Then either Artemis wanted revenge or Ares got jealous of Adonis because he was Aphrodite’s lover too. Anyway, in Greek and Roman mythology, the goddess of love used Adonis’s blood in order to create the flower anemone, a memorial of their love.

Image result for Anémone

As you can see, the writer from Love in Sadness mixed Roman and Greek mythology together. Nevertheless both stories have so many similarities. First both stories deal with the loss of a loved one, with a tragic death where the surviving person has trouble to accept the death of their lover. Furthermore, the gods create a flower (Hyacinth and Anemone) in order to remember their loved one. Finally, the writer used the aspect of jealousy in both stories which explains why he made a mistake with the name because he mixed Roman tradition with Greek mythology. And now, if we take a close look, we will notice that our main characters (KIW, YMR, WHK and SJW) share the same experience. YMR fakes her death in order to escape from her abusive husband, WHK got involved in an accident and got killed which affected her husband SJW a lot. SJW gave YMR his wife’s face which could be compared to the gesture of the god: SJW created a flower, just like Aphrodite and Apollo did. On the other hand, KIW has not created anything yet, he is still living in his memories: he has distorted version of his marriage with YMR. Maybe, the beholder should perceive KIW as the jealous person and not the lover, if we had to compare him to characters from the legends as he is really jealous. YMR loved painting more than anything and he knew that, hence he allowed her to paint but only at her studio and she was not allowed to show any creation to others. Concerning WHK, SJW and doctor Ha, the latter embodies definitely the jealous one who destroyed WHK in the end due to his jealousy and negligence. As conclusion, we understand better why this drama was called love in sadness because all these legends and our drama deal with tragic love, death, pain and sadness.

However, this is not the only reference to Greek literature and mythology. In the episodes from this week, we could finally perceive the true personality of doctor Ha Sung Ho. Remember that in my former analysis, I had compared Joo Hae Ra to a praying mantis, SJW to a butterfly and flower and KIW to a cobra.

episode 12

While watching this scene, the doctor’s words made me think of the famous fable “La cigale et la fourmi” (The cicada and ant) from Jean de la Fontaine. The latter is a French fabulist from the 17th Century who wrote many fables. He used as source of inspiration, the Greek author, Aesop (an author from ancient times, Antiquity).

Here is the fable written by Jean de La fontaine

La Cigale, ayant chanté
Tout l’Été,
Se trouva for dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue.
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vermisseau.
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la Fourmi sa voisine,
La priant de lui prêter
Quelque grain pour subsister
Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.
Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
Avant l’Oût, foi d’animal,
Intérêt et principal
La Fourmi n’est pas prêteuse ;
C’est là son moindre défaut.
« Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud ?
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
— Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.
— Vous chantiez ? j’en suis fort aise.
Eh bien ! dansez maintenant. »

The gay cicada, full of song
All the sunny season long,
Was unprovided and brought low,
When the north wind began to blow ; 
Had not a scrap of worm or fly,
Hunger and want began to cry ; 
Never was creature more perplexed.
She called upon her neighbour ant,
And humbly prayed her just to grant 
Some grain till August next ;
“I’ll pay, ” she said, “what ye invest, 
Both principal and interest,
Honour of insects –and that’s tender. ”
The ant, however, is no lender ;
That is her least defective side ;
“But, hark ye, pray, Miss Borrower, ” she cried, 
“What were ye doing in fine weather ? ” 
“ Singing . . .  nay,! look not thus askance,
To every comer day and night together. ”
“ Singing ! I’m glad of that ; why now then dance. ” (translation from

Notice that the cicada doesn’t like working, she is busy enjoying life and in time of need, the cicada visits the ant for help. The behavior of the doctor Ha Sung Ho reminds us a lot of the cicada as both share the same philosophy.

a cicada

They are carefree and even selfish as they let people work for them believing that generosity is a given. In Ha’s eyes, SJW is like an ant forgetting that SJW is working in order to support him and his wife as well. Only after WHK’s car accident, HSH started working like crazy accepting all different kind of patients, even risking the patients’ life. HSH even believes that their office is working so well because he made so many surgeries, but in my opinion, HSH is overestimating himself as he is overlooking SJW’s reputation. SJW was invited to a radio program, he even wrote a book… people from far away are coming to his office. Yet, HSH has never really considered SJW’s work as worthy to be mentioned because he has a different approach: SJW is working for his patients so that the latter can start enjoying their life, while HSH only worked out of guilt and pride. He never cares for his patients in reality. His words can be compared to the singing of the cicada: HSH always tries to praise himself in front of SJW. He is really jealous of SJW and not just because the latter married WHK. HSH could study because of SJW and his family, SJW was definitely the better student. Even after the big revelation, HSH shows his true face: he doesn’t feel sorry that he had an affair with WHK, he just reveals his jealousy and “hatred” for SJW. It will be interesting to see how HSH lives after leaving SJW’s office.

As conclusion, our characters from the drama Love in Sadness are all embodied by animals, except YMR: HSH the cicada, SJW the butterfly, KIW the cobra and JHR the praying mantis. But more importantly, it is clear that the writer was inspired by authors from the antiquity: Greek and Roman writers (Aesop, Ovid, aso).

4 thoughts on “The influence of Greek and Roman mythology and literature in Love in Sadness

  1. Thank you for your detailed and wise analysis of this thought-provoking drama Love in sadness! Keep up this wonderful work! 🙂


      1. It was my pleasure to read your words and it was really helpful too: I also had many thoughts listening to the music of this show and thinking about the paintings! (No accident, I also a huge music-fan and did artworks as well) Please continue with your analysis based on this show – it is still ongoing and many viewers still could not discover it! Hwaiting! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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