Know of any historical tales in which a man kills the woman he loves as a sacrifice in the name of duty, religion, etc.?

I'll take mythological tales too, but for the purposes of the novel I'm writing, I'm hoping there will be a story from history that can be a good jumping off point for me. Preferably something B.C. as I'll be using future time periods as well. She does actually have to die to further the story, and I'd like to avoid familial ties (brother/sister, parent/child) being the relationship between the two characters.

Perhaps this is an odd request, but this seems like a site full of knowledgeable people, so I thought I'd go ahead and ask. Thanks! :)

  • This reminds me of a scene in Jung Chang's memoir Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China: Her father was a party official. When he had to move his organization he (if memory serves correctly) was entitled and required to go by car, but he did not think it proper that his then pregnant wife should receive any special privileges just because of party connections. As a result she (with many others) did have to walk far across provinces (and therefore perhaps endanger her and the baby's condition to some degree). Hope this helps. – Drux Feb 23 '13 at 16:20

To some extent Athos or D'Artagnan could perhaps fit with Milady Winter.

  • Athos doesn't count. He had no love for Milady. Count De La Fere on the other hand... – DVK Feb 24 '13 at 2:25

In "Gulag Archipelago," Solzhenitsyn tells the story of an ambitious KGB officer who arrested and imprisoned his "beloved" wife when she becomes "politically incorrect."

  • I think the OP meant cases in which the man takes the decision himself, not under some sort of compulsion. – Felix Goldberg Feb 23 '13 at 21:49
  • @FelixGoldberg: According to Solzhenitsyn, the man did it "on his own" without direction from "above." – Tom Au Feb 23 '13 at 21:50
  • Can you be more specific, then? – Felix Goldberg Feb 23 '13 at 22:32

Famously, the Bridge of Arta supposedly could not be built until the engineer sacrificed his wife.

Also supposedly one of the Herods sacrificed his wife (Herod the Great certainly killed much of his family), but I cannot find an internet reference for that.


If we extend the definition to cover a daughter, then Yiftah, the biblical Judge, and Agamemnon both come to mind.

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