Cophetua was an African King. He was known for his lack of any sexual attraction to women. One day while looking out of the palace window he witnesses a young beggar Penelophon suffering for lack of clothes. Struck by love at first sight, Cophetua decides that he will either have the beggar as his wife or commit suicide.
Walking out into the street he scatters coins for the beggars to gather and when Penelophon comes forward, he tells her that she is to be his wife. She agrees and becomes queen, and soon loses all trace of her former poverty and low class. The couple lives a quiet life but are much loved by their people. Eventually, they die and are buried in the same tomb.
Much has been written about ‘King Cophetua and the beggar maid’ in English literature by various authors and poets. To quote a few:
In D.H. Lawrence’s novel Sons and Lover, Paul sees Miriam’s well-worn clothes as “like the romantic rags of King Cophetua’s beggar-maid.”
Agatha Christie uses the phrase “Cophetua syndrome” in her novel The Body in the Library, to refer to the case of an elderly upper-class Englishman who becomes infatuated with a working-class girl, albeit in a fatherly rather than sexual way. Christie also reference Cophetua in her novel Crooked House.
That brings me to point that a human heart is very simple and unpredictable. It can fall for anyone. In my own life I’ve see people falling to Cophetua syndrome.