BBC / D’où vient le symbole coeur ?

While many will be pondering the mysteries of the heart today, JOHN O’ROURKE tackles a more prosaic question about our beating tickers: where on earth did our universally recognised heart shape stem from?

The origins of this simple shape have mystified scholars and academics for generations. The hearts that beat in all of our chests bears very little resemblance to this simple apple-like form that graces Valentine’s Day cards the world over.

For such a sine qua non of Western culture, we know remarkably little about its entry into our cultural tradition. While billions will instantly interpret Milton Glaser’s iconic ‘I ❤ NY’ as a profession of love for the Big Apple, the Ancient Greeks would more than likely have been baffled by its use in this way.

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