Beginning in antiquity, the stylized heart has symbolized the spiritual, emotional, and moral core of human character. Over 2 millennia ago, the Roman surgeon Galen believed the heart to be the seat of emotion.1 Stoics taught that it physically represented the soul, and Aristotle considered the heart to be the origin of all logical thought, reason, and passion.1,2 What the traditional heart shape actually depicts remains unclear. Bearing only slight resemblance to the anatomic human heart, many claim the symbol arose from the ancient Sumerian cuneiform for woman.2 Nevertheless, the shape continues to represent romantic love the world over, as evidenced on St Valentine’s Day each February.
Bree AF, Cole P, Siegfried EC. A Love of Dermatology. JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(2):121–122. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.7796
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: