The Short Story
Pyramus and Thisbe are a couple of young Babylonians in love. Unfortunately, their families totally hate each other. The star-crossed lovers whisper sweet nothings through a crack in the wall that separates their houses, until they eventually can't take it anymore and decide to elope.
But when Thisbe shows up under the mulberry tree where they're supposed to meet, a bloody-jawed lioness is hanging out there. Thisbe screams and runs, leaving her shawl behind. Pyramus arrives a little while later and finds the bloody lioness ripping apart the shawl. Uh oh—we can see where this is headed.
Assuming Thisbe has been devoured, he stabs himself with his sword. Later, Thisbe returns, figures out the horrible thing that's happened, and stabs herself with Pyramus's sword, too. To this day, the formerly white berries of the mulberry tree are stained red with the blood of these tragic lovers.
The Less Short Story
- The handsome Pyramus and the lovely Thisbe live in the ancient city of Babylon, where their families have been neighbors all their lives.
- As Pyramus and Thisbe grow up, they fall totally in love.
- Unfortunately, the young lovers' families hate each other and forbid the two to get married.
- Of course, this makes Pyramus and Thisbe want each other more. Like ya do.
- The two find a crack in the wall that separates their houses and whisper sweet nothings as often as they can.
- (Apparently no one thinks it's weird to talk to a wall.)
- Eventually, Pyramus and Thisbe get totally sick of all this wall-whispering and decide to elope.
- They plan to sneak out of their houses separately that night and then meet at the tomb of some dude named Ninus. Specifically, they're supposed to meet under a mulberry tree that grows inside the tomb.
- Thisbe makes it to the tomb first. "Oh boy, oh boy," says to herself. "I just can't wait to be Pyramus's wife. I sure hope nothing horrible happens to keep us apart..."
- Uh oh.
- Just then a lioness comes by with her mouth all covered in blood from a recent kill.
- "Eeeeeek!" screams Thisbe, and she runs away so fast that she leaves her shawl behind under the mulberry tree.
- The lioness doesn't pay the girl any mind and has her self a drink of water from a stream. But then she notices Thisbe's shawl and starts tearing it up with her still bloody jaws.
- At this point, Pyramus finally shows up. (What has he been doing exactly?)
- He sees the lioness and the bloody shawl and assumes that the love of his life has been devoured.
- Overcome with grief, Pyramus stabs himself in the heart with his sword.
- His blood spurts onto the white berries of the mulberry tree.
- By the time Thisbe comes back, Pyramus has almost bled to death.
- The last thing he sees before he dies is the beautiful face of the un-devoured Thisbe. So that's depressing.
- Thisbe is so sad when she figures out what happened that she takes Pyramus's sword and kills herself, too.
- Her blood also spurts onto the white berries of the mulberry tree.
- To this day, the all mulberries are stained red in honor of the tragic love of Pyramus and Thisbe.