The legend of your media naranja, or half orange, explained by Plato's Symposium in ancient Greece.
Brand new romance Media Naranja (Your Half-Orange)
Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida

What if I were to tell you that what you feel for your partner, that passion that makes you feel incomplete if you’re not with your other half…that, your media naranja (half-orange), comes from ancient Greece?

Yes, it turns out that according to Plato’s Symposium, one of the platonic dialogues, during a meal a group of dinner guests conversed and debated ideas about love. Aristophanes, the famous Greek comedy writer–not comedian–narrates his version to explain all the different “types” of love. 

Well apparently, according to Aristophanes, in primitive times there existed three kinds of humans: some all woman, some all man, and others androgynous. These creatures were doubled or united. Two women, two men, or one man and one woman. They had four arms and four legs and a single head with two faces on opposite sides. They also had double the reproductive organs. They felt love for each other even being fused in the same body, and to reproduce, they let a seed drop to the ground. 

Media Naranja (Your Half-Orange)
Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida

This race of humans became strong and arrogant. They wanted to reach heaven and challenge the gods, so Zeus decided to punish them. He split them in half and sent Apollo to heal their wounds. Apollo wanted to humiliate those audacious humans, so he turned their faces to the opposite side of their sexual organs so they would always remember and suffer for their brazenness That way, when the two halves found each other, they wouldn’t be able to reproduce. It seems that Apollo didn’t know that the humans were very imaginative and would find a way to do so despite his best efforts.

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Fortunately, Zeus didn’t like the idea and fixed Apollo’s handiwork, saving us from a few years of experimentation. Bravo for Zeus! However, procreation would only be possible through the union of a man and a woman, and society would take it upon itself to separate lovers of the same sex.

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Despite all this divine intervention, love is the strongest thing there is. So, the men born as double men and the women born as double women and the men and women born as androgynous beings love each other with tremendous intensity. Even then, Aristophanes concludes that the love between people of the opposite sex is inferior to the love between those of the same sex because it’s a union of two opposites.

Media Naranja (Your Half-Orange)
Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida

Each half will always look for the other, and once they find each other, they’ll experience a violent love and won’t feel any more desire than that to unite intimately and indissolubly to return to their primitive state. 

Ah! And I forgot about the orange. Well, the act of splitting the double beings in half was compared to an orange. And I imagine that for many people, it was easier to speak of oranges and not androgenous people. Remember that society was in charge of separating these beings. 

So now you know. When you feel an intense love and the necessity of being with someone, it’s likely that that person is your other half. Go forth and find the scar that Zeus’ surgery left. 

Couples making up at a gas station outside Sancti Spiritus city in Cuba.
Couples making up at a gas station outside Sancti Spiritus city in Cuba. Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida

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Alain is a professional photographer, photojournalist, artist, food blogger, and creator as well as the owner of his own photography and travel business. Born and raised in Havana, Cuba Alain spent nearly 18 years there working as a photojournalist for various media entities, photographing high-profile cultural and social events.

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