Pyramus and Thisbe Summary
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Ovid first told the tragic story of “Pyramus and Thisbe” in Metamorphoses. The tale sounds very much like Romeo and Juliet, leading people to wonder if this is where William Shakespeare got his inspiration for the play. In addition to Shakespeare, many other authors have retold Ovid’s original story.
The tale is about two Babylonian lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe. Their families have lived as neighbors in Babylon all their lives. As Pyramus and Thisbe grow up, they fall in love. Unfortunately, the young lovers’ families hate each other and forbid them to get married. This forbidding by the families only makes the two fall more deeply in love.
They find a crack in the wall that separates their houses, and through it, they whisper and profess their love for each other. Finally, Pyramus and Thisbe can no longer stand being apart and decide to elope. They create a plan to sneak out of their houses separately that night and to meet at the tomb of Ninus under a mulberry tree that grows inside the tomb.
Thisbe arrives at the tomb first. She is so happy; she feels so close to becoming Pyramus’s wife. She is excited, but also afraid, and hopes nothing bad will happen to keep Pyramus and her apart. Upon her arrival, however, Thisbe sees a lioness with a mouth bloody from a recent kill. Thisbe fleas out of fear, leaving behind her veil.
When Pyramus arrives, he is horrified at the sight of Thisbe’s veil, assuming the lioness has killed her. Pyramus kills himself, falling on his sword in proper Babylonian fashion. His blood splashes on the white mulberry leaves.
Pyramus’s blood stains the white mulberry fruits, turning them dark. Thisbe returns, but to her dismay, she finds Pyramus’s dead body under the shade of the mulberry tree. After a brief period of mourning, she stabs herself with the same sword. In the end, the gods listen to Thisbe’s lament, and forever change the color of the mulberry fruits into the stained color to honor the forbidden love.
Ovid’s is the oldest surviving version of the story, published in 8 A.D., but he too had adapted an existing myth. Many others after Ovid recreated the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, in addition to Shakespeare, as mentioned above.
The story “Pyramus and Thisbe” appeared in Giovanni Boccaccio’s On Famous Women and in his Decameron. In the 1380s, Geoffrey Chaucer in his The Legend of Good Women, and John Gower in his Confessio Amantis were the first authors to tell the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in English. John Metham’s Amoryus and Cleopes, 1449, is another early English adaptation.
Then of course, there was the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet, which may be the most well known recreation of Ovid’s story. The earliest version of Romeo and Juliet was published in 1476 by Masuccio Salernitano and later was made famous by Shakespeare’s 1590 version of Romeo and Juliet. Here the star-crossed lovers could not be together because Juliet had been engaged by her parents to another man, and additionally, the two families held an ancient grudge that neither family was willing to let go. Just as in “Pyramus and Thisbe,” the two lovers (Romeo and Juliet) defied their families in order to secretly communicate, and created a plan whereby they hoped to be together; but just as in “Pyramus and Thisbe,” the plan sadly does not work, and the mistaken belief in one lover’s death leads to consecutive suicides of both lovers.
Shakespeare once again portrays the story of “Pyramus and Thisbe” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream when the story is acted out during a scene within the larger play. In addition, others have re-told the story. Spanish poet Luis de Góngora wrote Fábula de Píramo y Tisbe in 1618, while French poet Théophile de Viau wrote Les amours tragiques de Pyrame et Thisbée in 1621. There are even more who have re-written this beautiful yet tragic story of forbidden love, and as such, we see that the story of Pyramus and Thisbe has been, and continues to be to very popular throughout history.
Comparing Romeo and Juliet and Pyramus and Thisbe Essay
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Famous texts often have many similarities as it makes good discussions to find all the possible things that are very related to one another. These certain texts between Romeo and Juliet and Pyarum and Thisbe are almost so closely related, that there are infamous of resemblances that you can point out. There are the obvious general observations, but once you dig deep, you find that there are much more comparisons that meet the eye. Since they are so closely related, we are able to really truly understand the concepts that stand out through each reading. This will make our thoughts deeper and more powerful towards both texts. In Romeo and Juliet, the text is very similar to Pyramus and Thisbe through a love connection between characters even…show more content…
Also, in Romeo and Juliet and Pyramus and Thisbe, a huge part that plays throughout both tales is the showing of miscommunication and misunderstandings. In Romeo and Juliet, Act V Scene II Lines 17-19 Friar Lawrence speaks, “Unhappy fortune! By my brotherhood, the letter was not nice, but full of charge, of dear import, and the neglecting it may do much danger.” Even though the entire play is of miscommunication, this by far is the worst as since Romeo did not receive that letter, it led to the deaths of Juliet and Romeo. Pyramus and Thisbe on the other hand seemed to have their entire plan worked out right through communication, yet it was the misunderstanding that led to both their deaths. The faults of Pyramus assuming Thisbe was dead, led to his suicide which connected to Thisbe’s suicide as well. Last but not least, in both texts of Romeo and Juliet and Pyramus and Thisbe, they are very similar as they both end with terrible, terrible tragedies. Both these readings are known for being tragedies, which make them both so memorable. In Romeo and Juliet, Act V Scene III lines 307-310 the Prince says these concluding words, “Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things; some shall be pardoned, and some punished; for never was there a story of more woe, than this od Juliet and her Romeo.” That itself sums up that it is one of the greatest tragedies known to man. The same ending through misunderstandings leads to Pyramus and