Study Guide

Pyramus and Thisbe Context

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The most famous, straight-up version of the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe comes from our main man Ovid, who lays out the whole sad story in his Metamorphoses.

But then, of course, Shakespeare had to come along and steal the limelight when he included another version of the story in his mega-popular comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this fairy-filled romp, some working class actors, called the Mechanicals, perform their own amateurish version of the tragic love story at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. Besides Ovid's version, this play-within-a-play is probably the most well known telling of the tale.

Oh, and you might've heard of another little play by Billy Shakes called Romeo and Juliet. No one knows for sure exactly which source Shakespeare directly drew from to create the well-known tragic romance. But it's pretty clear that somewhere along the way there was some major influence happening.

Can't get enough of the tale? There have been plenty more adaptations from the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer and all sorts of operatic masters. And while they may not have gotten their own big Hollywood movie (yet), Pyramus and Thisbe live on as the archetypes for pretty much every pair of tragic lovers that weep their way across the big screen.

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