Find out all there is to know about Ovid's classic story Pyramus and Thisbe.

 

Context

              At the beginning of book four of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Story of Pyramus and Thisbe is told by the three daughters of Minyas, the King of Orchomenos in Boeotia, during a festival in honor of Bacchus. The Minyades decide to ignore the festival, which mirrors the previous story at the end of book three, to exchange stories amongst each other. They tell the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, the original Romeo and Juliet. Pyramus, a handsome Babylonian young man, falls in love with his beautiful neighbor, Thisbe. However, they are forbidden to meet by their parents. Eventually, they decide to meet near the tomb of King Ninus. Arriving first, Thisbe sees a lion, covered with blood from its last meal. She rushes to a nearby cave, but her veil comes loose and goes near the lion. When Pyramus arrives, he sees the veil near Pyramus and jumps to the conclusion that Pyramus is dead. The lines that I have chosen will tell his reaction, his death, and Thisbe’s reaction from when she returns from hiding (Lines 105-146). Before killing herself, Thisbe utters prayers, apologizing to her parents, then she kills herself by the same swore Pyramus does. And their “offspring” of their “eternal” love, is the deep-red blood-stained mulberries.

              The previous story, at the end of book 3, tells the story of Pentheus, a stubborn king, and Bacchus, the god of vegetation and fruitfulness. Tiresias, a blind prophet, told Pentheus a prophecy. He said that Pentheus would be torn apart by unknown fingers. And being himself, he did not believe it. So, during the festival of Bacchus, Pentheus was reluctant to celebrate but stepped outside to investigate. Then he arrests the priest of Bacchus, Acolytes, and sends him to be tortured. Just before the guards can torture Acolytes, his shackles magically disappear. And with his rage, Pentheus storms into the woods, where he has the appearance of a bull to others, and a group of Bacchic followers tear him apart limb by limb. 

 

              Pyramus and Thisbe was a story first written by Ovid, but its adaptations still live on today. A very famous poet, by the name of Shakespeare, took the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in two directions. The first, he added the story to his outstanding play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and then he uses the story to create one of the most famous love stories of all time, Romeo and Juliet.