Story Time: Pyramus and Thisbe

by - 7:09 PM

Today I want to introduce you to a new concept here at Picking up the Pieces. No, it's got nothing to do with Thomas Sanders' Story Time Vines. My Story Time originates from my love for mythology. Mythology has this great way of showing us bits and pieces of what society was like and of what people believed and valued back when these stories came to be. 

However, sometimes they're oozing with stupidity, or they're so illogical it hurts your brain. That's where I come in: I'm going to retell these stories in all their weirdness, pointing out flaws the Envy style. Today's myth: Pyramus and Thisbe, ripped off by Shakespeare so he could write Romeo and Juliet!

When Ovidius (or Ovid, as he's apparently called in English) tells this story in the Metamorphoses, he starts with telling that Pyramus and Thisbe were the two most beautiful people of the East. By total coincidence, the two most beautiful people of the East live right next to eachother. Of course.
At some point these two fall in love, but their parents disapprove. Why? No idea. Falling in love with the boy/girl next door was apparently forbidden. No questions asked, it's forbidden, period.
How is this not weird?!
Pyramus and Thisbe hide their love, until they find out about the crack in the wall. Their houses share a wall and this wall has a very convenient crack in it. This crack has been there ever since the houses were built. It's big enough for Pyramus and Thisbe to communicate through it. So they spend hours facing the wall, talking to eachother. 
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? No? Let me show you the problem with this part of the story:
  1. What kind of moron buys a house with such a big crack in the wall that the neighbours can basically hear every fart you let fly?!
  2. What kind of moron doesn't think it's wird to see their son/daughter talk to a WALL for hours?!
The answer to both questions: Pyramus and Thisbe's parents. They have no clue that their children are more or less seeing eachother, so the romance continues.

After a while, both Pyramus and Thisbe are tired of literally having a wall inbetween them. They decide to meet eachother in secret, late at night.
Their meeting point is the grave of some dude called Ninus. One problem: there are quite a lot of lions living near Ninus' grave...
Thisbe is first to arrive. She waits for a while, until a lioness approaches. The lioness has just eaten a cow and her face is covered with blood. Thisbe does the only sensible thing she can do: she flees.
The lioness drinks some water, walks around and finds the veil Thisbe lost while fleeing. The lioness is probably very bored, because she tears the veil apart for no reason at all and leaves it covered in blood. Then she just... goes away, I guess. Ovid doesn't tell, but when Pyramus arrives at Ninus' grave, there's nothing, neither animal nor human, to see.
Pyramus finds the shredded veil and immediately loses his mind. There's no blood on the ground, no body parts lying around, nothing but the veil and what does this guy think? 'Shit, Thisbe's been killed by a lion.' So he pulls out his sword and kills himself. Great thinking, Pyramus. You're a real genius.

Meanwhile, Thisbe is still hiding - somewhere, no one knows where - when all this happens. At some point she decides to go back, since she still desperately wants to see Pyramus. But when she gets back to Ninus' grave, she doesn't see him there waiting for her, oh no. She sees him flopping like a fish on the floor, sending jet streams of blood all over the place. She kneels next to him. He opens his eyes one more time, sees her snd dies.
Thisbe doesn't see any point in life without Pyramus, so she grabs the sword and kills herself too. It's all very Romeo and Juliet, don't you think?

After their bodies are found, Pyramus and Thisbe are cremated, which was a very normal thing to do with dead bodies back then, and their ashes were put together in one urn, which was never a very normal thing to do... Also, from that day on the mulberry tree that was splattered with their blood carried red fruits instead of white and other mulberry trees also became red by some mysterious magical way. 

Now wasn't that a beautiful ancient story with a huge lack of logic?
Hope you enjoyed my storytelling. If there a myth you want me to retell? Let me know in the comments!
Stay Awesome!

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6 Fellow Ramblers

  1. Isn't it hilarious that this play is within one of the Shakespeare's plays? This is one of my my favorite ancient stories. :)

    xoxo Morning

    1. There was this girl in my class who was outraged when she found out that Shakespeare was, uhm, 'inspired' by this story :P Shakespeare was ehr hero and she couldn't accept that he wasn't 100% original.
      I translated this story in Latin class a few years ago, but had never heard of it before. I'm surprised you know it!
      Thanks for your comment :)

  2. That's pretty interesting mythology. I mean, every one dies in the end. No happily ever after. Such tragedy.
    Although, I must admit the person(s) who made this myth were pretty creative when it came to answering "Why are mulberries red"

    1. Well, the parents didn't die. Not in the story. But they weren't happy, I'm sure of that :P
      There are so many myths in the metamorphoese that are just a really creative way of explaining why a thing is a certain color :)

  3. Crazy is what these two kids were.That red thing is kinda interesting.I'm not the biggest fan of Romeo and Juliet I like other Shakespeare though.There are so many stories based on this myth and I didn't know about it so I never realized how much this influences stories.

    1. Crazy? They sure were crazy.
      I have to admit that I've never read Romeo and Juliet, though I know the story (like everyone else in this universe). I think there are very few people who realize how much influence this story has had on other stories throughout time.


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