Why is the heart considered a symbol of love, and what does Aristotle have to do with it?

Today the heart symbol is used everywhere. On February 14, couples in love give each other valentines, on social networks we put “likes” on photos, and even in professional medicine the “heart” symbol is used as a synonym for health and care. The shape of the heart symbol consists of two rounded figures meeting at the bottom. This figure is completely different from the real heart that is inside our chest. Based on this, a fair question arises: who even came up with the idea of ​​depicting the heart this way? And in general, why is the heart considered a symbol of love and devotion? You will find out the answers to these two questions right now!

The symbol of love does not look like a human heart, but why is it called a “heart”?< /p>

When did the heart symbol appear

Scientists believe that the heart symbol and its connection with love originated during the times of Ancient Greece. The oldest image of a “heart” dates back to the 13th century AD. There is speculation that the figure was created based on a description created by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. He lived in the 4th century BC and, as one can assume (but is far from certain), did not know the exact shape of the human heart.

When the heart symbol appeared. Perhaps the author of the love symbol is Aristotle. Image source: theidealist.ru. Photo.

Perhaps the author of the symbol of love is Aristotle. Image source: theidealist.ru

Why does a heart mean love?

Another version says that the symbol of love is not a human heart, but an ivy leaf. In Greek culture, this plant was a sign of Dionysus, the god of winemaking and passion. In Ancient Greece, the ivy symbol was indeed often used, including to designate brothels.

Why does a heart mean love? An ivy leaf vaguely resembles a heart. Image source: 9dach.ru. Photo.

An ivy leaf vaguely resembles a heart. Image source: 9dach.ru

There is an assumption that the symbol of love is the outline of the now extinct silphium plant. Many ancient Greek personalities like Herodotus, Hippocrates, Cato and so on wrote about him. Silphium was considered a very valuable plant among the Greeks and Romans – legend said that it was a gift from the god of light Apollo, so the price of silphium leaves was the same as that of a silver denarius.

Silphium was used both for making aromatic seasonings and as a medicinal plant. For example, it was used for digestive disorders, snake and scorpion bites, and rectal prolapse. Silphium was also often used as a remedy against pregnancy and even to stimulate miscarriages – it was used to perform abortions.

Why does a heart mean love? Coin with the image of silphium. Image source: arsclassicacoins.com. Photo.

Coin with the image of sylphium. Image source: arsclassicacoins.com

You probably know that when two swans swim towards each other, their heads form a heart symbol. This is also one of the versions of the appearance of the romantic emblem. The option sounds even more plausible when you consider that swans are one of the rare animals that remain with their partner for life. Maybe that’s why the figure formed when swans touch has become a symbol of love and devotion.

And finally, there is an opinion that the symbol of the heart is an image of a woman’s buttocks. In ancient times, people associated female beauty with curves visible from the back. This version also has a right to exist.

Read also: 7 rules of life that will save you from heart problems

What is the human heart like

The ubiquitous symbol of love looks nothing like a human organ. In reality, it is pear-shaped and is not at all associated with any romance.

However, in the 1950s, scientists still managed to find a noticeable similarity between the drawn “heart” and the real organ. During the experiments, they injected liquid plastic into the largest arterial vessel (aorta) of deceased people to create an impression of the person's coronary blood flow.

What the human heart is like. It's amazing what experiments scientists do. Image source: olathehealth.org. Photo.

It’s amazing what kind of experiments scientists don’t conduct. Image source: olathehealth.org

Look at the photos below. They depict visualizations of the right and left coronary trunks, in which you can really see a symbol of love. So it is possible that in ancient times Aristotle or his students also conducted experiments similar to modern ones. Only instead of plastic, they could introduce other materials like plaster into people’s vessels.

What does a human heart look like? The human heart really looks like a symbol of love. Photo source: tandfonline.com. Photo.

The human heart really looks like a symbol of love. Photo source: tandfonline.com

To discuss this article, check out our Telegram chat. Comments are also open in our Zen channel!

The world around us is amazing – would you think that the symbol of love is so closely associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle? If you want to expand your horizons, take a look at our other articles. For example, right now you can find out where the tradition of giving gifts to your loved ones came from. We also have material about the unusual tradition of clinking glasses. Do you know why ancient Roman sculptors specifically broke the heads of statues? We also have comprehensive material on this topic!