Pyramus and Thisbe

This is a tragic love story about the most handsome and the most beautiful young man and young woman, Pyramus and Thisbe, in the ancient city of Babylonia.

They lived in separate houses, each with their own families, which were separated by a wall and the wall had a crack in it which they would talk through at night. No one else knew about the crack, they had found it. Their families forbade them from marrying or even talking to each other for some reason not specified.

One day while talking through the crack, they decided to escape their houses that night and meet under a mulberry tree at a set time. Well, night came and they set off. The young woman, Thisbe, got to the tree first. She sat down and began to wait for Pyramus to show up. But while waiting, a lion, specifically a female lioness, shows up to get a drink of water from the nearby pond. The lioness had just eaten and her jaws and teeth were bloody from the prey.

Thisbe gets scared and runs to hide in a nearby cave. As she’s running away, she drops her scarf and the lioness picks it up in her mouth and tosses it around and then drops it and leaves. Right after the lioness leaves and while Thisbe is still hiding, Pyramus shows up after having been delayed, to the tree. He sees Thisbe’s scarf on the ground, bloody from the jaws of the lioness.

He assumes a lion had eaten Thisbe and is distraught because he thinks he should have been there to protect her. He takes out his sword by the mulberry tree and stabs his heart, killing himself. The blood from his serious wound spurts onto the berries of the mulberry tree, making them red. As he’s dying, Thisbe comes out of hiding and upon seeing Pyramus dying from his own sword wound with her scarf in his hand, she pieces together what happened. Now distraught herself, she takes Pyramus’s sword and stabs her own heart, killing herself.

As she’s dying, she makes the wish to the tree that its berries always be deep reddish purple, and to be buried in the same tomb with Pyramus. Both wishes are honored by the gods and the lovers’ parents and that is why mulberry berries are the purplish color they are.