Truly, this has been the summer of the wife guy. You’ve probably heard of at least one wife guy — a man whose claim to fame hinges on a wife-related incident — whether it be Curvy Wife Guy or Cliff Wife Guy or I Love My Wife Guy. But what you may not know is that, while the wife guy is a new meme, it has old roots. That’s right: classical mythology had a wife guy or two (or the eight compiled here), some of whom even line up with the wife guys of today. So here’s a handy guide to satisfy your classical mythology wife guy curiosities.
Nobody knows how long the wife guy will stay. But rest assured he’s been here for a while.
Orpheus (Wife: Eurydice)
Orpheus was supposed to be remembered as a musical prodigy. Instead, he is best known for the time he tried to bring his wife Eurydice back from the dead and failed because he couldn’t follow simple instructions. So before there was Cliff Wife Guy crying that his wife fell off a cliff, there was Orpheus crying that his wife fell down the hole to Hades. Again. If only he had a video camera.
Menelaus (Wife: Helen)
Does anyone know anything about Menelaus that doesn’t involve Helen? Even if the answer is yes, does anyone care? Don’t forget that he started a ten-year performative war to get his wife back, which is the Homeric equivalent of a Twitter campaign.
Odysseus (Wife: Penelope)
If Odysseus had just left it at the deceptive wooden horse, he might have been able to avoid this list. But given that he’s most famous for a long journey back to Penelope, during which he would sob to the various goddesses that he was sleeping with that he missed his wife, here he will stay. He probably would have written a gushing Instagram post about his wife’s unwavering loyalty upon his return to Ithaca. #MyQueen
Pygmalion (Wife: Galatea)
This guy’s entire story is about how he carved his own wife out of marble. He probably would have written a blog post about the experience after Aphrodite made Galatea sentient, titled “My wife came to life” or something.
Hephaestus (Wife: Aphrodite)
Speaking of Aphrodite, she’s married to another wife guy, a talented man who is nevertheless marked by the sad fact that both his mother and his wife hated him. Aphrodite’s frequent infidelities led to some Internet-worthy moments, including the time Hephaestus ensnared her and her lover, Ares, in a net while they were in bed. You can just picture Hephaestus yelling at Ares, “don’t email my wife!!!”
Hades (Wife: Persephone)
Considering that Hades is the god of the underworld, you would expect him to be a key player in numerous delightful episodes. But the most prominent Hades story is the one where he kidnaps his own niece, Persephone, so that he can have a wife. He may be the Greek mythology equivalent of the guy who pretended to be his wife online, which sounds like something Hades would do to keep Demeter from noticing that her daughter is gone for a while longer.
Zeus (Wife: Hera)
Zeus is famous for a lot of things, sure. But arguably, he is most famous for his pathological inability to keep it in his pants and his wife Hera’s subsequent rage. Remember Gamer Elf Wife Guy, who had an affair with another gamer, announced he was divorcing his wife on Twitter, and then blocked her so that she couldn’t see? Surely Zeus would have liked to prevent Hera from finding out about an indiscretion or two using a similar tactic.
Cephalus (Wife: Procris)
Another man who slept with a goddess while crying that he missed his wife, to the point that Eos eventually got sick of his whining and let him go. Cephalus returned to Procris, only to impale her with a javelin while hunting because he thought she was a wild animal. Seriously, Cephalus is just famous because he accidentally killed his wife, and he’s not even that famous.