The Story of Pyramus and Thisbe
From Metamorphoses, by Ovid
A very touching love story that is sure to move anyone who reads it is that of Pyramus and Thisbe. Theirs was a selfless love and they made sure that even in death, they were together. The tale has its origins in the Roman Mythology. It is best recounted by Ovid, and the passion of love that blossomed between the two young lovers enthralls readers even today.
Pyramus was the most handsome man and was a childhood friend of Thisbe, the fairest maiden in Babylonia. Pyramus and Thisbe were neighbors. They both lived in neighboring homes and fell in love with each other as they grew up together. However, their parents were dead against them marrying each other. Their parents were totally against their union, leaving the young lovers with no option but burn the light of love brightly in their hearts and meet surreptitiously if they can. You know how fire suppressed burns all the fiercer?
Over the years, the lovers could only talk through a hole in their wall because their parents refused them to see each other.
Finally, Pyramus got fed up with his parents and so did Thisbe. One day while whispering through a crack in the wall, they decided to meet the next night under a mulberry tree near tomb of Ninus. They decided to elope then.
The next night, just before the crack of dawn, while everyone was asleep, they decided to slip out of their homes and meet in the nearby fields near a mulberry tree. Thisbe reached there first, covered with a cloak. As she waited under the tree, she saw a lioness coming near the spring close by to quench its thirst. Its jaws were bloody, from a previous kill that day. When Thisbe saw this horrifying sight, she panicked and ran to hide in some hollow rocks nearby. As she was running, she dropped her cloak.
The lion, on hearing the shriek, came near the tree where Thisbe was initially waiting. The creature picked up the cloak in its bloody jaws. Then it tattered the cloak with its blood-stained mouth, leaves it on the ground and goes away.
Soon after, Pyramus arrived at the appointed spot and saw Thisbe's cloak, his love gift to her, covered in blood and torn to pieces with the footprints of the lioness left behind. He immediately thought that his only love had been killed by a hungry lion. He was completely devastated. He thought that the lion had just hunted down Thisbe and blamed himself to be the cause of her death. Had he not been late, could the lion have killed Thisbe?
Shattered, he prepared to kill himself. Without any haste, he unsheathed his sword (her love gift to him), letting the cold, hard steel pierce his broken heart. He pierced his chest with his own sword. As he lay on the ground, the spouting blood rose high, like a burst pipe sprays water out of its small opening.
Meanwhile, unknown to what just happened, Thisbe was still hiding in the rocks due to the fear of the lion. When she came out from her hiding place after sometime and came under the mulberry tree once more, she saw the body of a man writhing in pain. Thisbe, bringing courage to her heart, ran towards the man and was shocked when he found her only love lying on the ground next to the blood-covered Mulberry bush with his own sword impaling his chest. The once-white mulberries were drenched in Pyramus' warm blood.
She gasped in horror as she asked the still breathing Pyramus what happened. Barely able to stay awake, he told her what happened and she cried out in sorrow. Pyramus died soon after leaving Thisbe totally shattered.
"What would I do in this world without my Pyramus?" thought the grief-stricken Thisbe. She resolved to finish herself too.
She brought out from Pyramus' chest his blood-stained sword. Then she said to the dead Pyramus:
"Death shall not keep you from me. Wait for me my love. I'm coming to you. "
Then she brought the blade into her own soft flesh, still warm and reeking with her lover's blood. Thus they died together.
Her prayers touched the gods, for the mulberry fruit still reddens when it becomes ripe in commemoration of the two young lovers and their great sacrifice.
Adapted from: http://www.theholidayspot.com/valentine/stories/pyramus_thisbe.htm
and the translation by Rolfe Humphries