Here, again and again, Pyramus on his side
of the wall and Thisbe on hers, they would
meet to tell each other all that had
happened during the day, and to complain of
their cruel parents. At length they decided
that they would endure it no longer, but
that they would leave their homes and be
married, come what might. They planned to
meet, on a certain evening, by a
mulberry-tree near the tomb of King Ninus,
outside the city gates. Once safely met,
they were resolved to brave fortune
So far all went well. At the appointed time,
Thisbe, heavily veiled, managed to escape
from home unnoticed, and after a stealthy
journey through the streets of Babylon, she
came to the grove of mulberries near the
tomb of Ninus. The place was deserted, and
once there she put off the veil from her
face to see if Pyramus waited anywhere among
the shadows. She heard the sound of a
footfall and turned to behold not Pyramus,
but a creature unwelcome to any tryst none
other than a lioness crouching to drink from
the pool hard by.
Without a cry, Thisbe fled, dropping her
veil as she ran. She found a hiding-place
among the rocks at some distance, and there
she waited, not knowing what else to do.
The lioness, having quenched her thirst
(after some ferocious meal), turned from the
spring and, coming upon the veil, sniffed at
it curiously, tore and tossed it with her
reddened jaws, as she would have done with
Thisbe herself, then dropped the plaything
and crept away to the forest once more.
It was but a little after this that Pyramus
came hurrying to the meeting-place,
breathless with eagerness to find Thisbe and
tell her what had delayed him. He found no
Thisbe there. For a moment he was
confounded. Then he looked about for some
sign of her, some footprint by the pool.
There was the trail of a wild beast in the
grass, and near by a woman's veil, torn and
stained with blood; he caught it up and knew
it for Thisbe's.
So she had come at the appointed hour, true
to her word; she had waited there for him
alone and defenceless, and she had fallen a
prey to some beast from the jungle! As these
thoughts rushed upon the young man's mind,
he could endure no more.
"Was it to meet me, Thisbe, that you came to
such a death!" cried he. "And I followed all
too late. But I will atone. Even now I come
lagging, but by no will of mine!"
So saying, the poor youth drew his sword and
fell upon it, there at the foot of that
mulberry-tree which he had named as the
trysting-place, and his life-blood ran about
During these very moments, Thisbe, hearing
no sound and a little reassured, had stolen
from her hiding-place and was come to the
edge of the grove. She saw that the lioness
had left the spring, and, eager to show her
lover that she had dared all things to keep
faith, she came slowly, little by little,
back to the mulberry-tree.
She found Pyramus there, according to his
promise. His own sword was in his heart, the
empty scabbard by his side, and in his hand
he held her veil still clasped. Thisbe saw
these things as in a dream, and suddenly the
truth awoke her. She saw the piteous
mischance of all; and when the dying Pyramus
opened his eyes and fixed them upon her, her
heart broke. With the same sword she stabbed
herself, and the lovers died together.
There the parents found them, after a weary
search, and they were buried together in the
same tomb. But the berries of the
mulberry-tree turned red that day, and red
they have remained ever since.
The Legend and Myth of Pyramus and Thisbe
The Myth of Pyramus and Thisbe
The story of Pyramus and Thisbe is featured in the book
entitled Old Greek Folk Stories by Josephine
Preston Peabody, published in 1907 by
Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.