Translation:Metamorphoses/Pyramus and Thisbe

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For other English-language translations of this work, see Pyramus and Thisbe (Ovid).
Metamorphoses by Ovid, translated by Wikisource
Pyramus and Thisbe


Original Latin Literal English Translation Line


     “Pyramus et Thisbē, iuvenum pulcherrimus alter,
altera, quās Oriēns habuit, praelāta puellīs
contiguās tenuēre domōs, ubi dīcitur altam
coctilibus mūrīs cinxisse Semīramis urbem.
nōtitiam prīmōsque gradūs vīcīnia fēcit,
tempore crēvit amor; taedae quōque iūre coissent,
sed vetuēre patrēs; quod nōn potuēre vetāre,
ex aequō captīs ārdēbant mentibus ambō.

"Pyramus and Thisbe, the first the most handsome of young men,
The other, preferred to all the girls whom the Orient held,
occupied adjoining homes, where Semiramis is said
to have surrounded the high city with walls of baked brick.
Proximity caused acquaintance and first approaches,
love grew with time; They would have come together with the law of the [wedding] torch,
but their fathers forbade [it]; both were burning equally with captured minds,
which they [their fathers] were not able to forbid.



cōnscius omnis abest; nūtū signīsque loquuntur,
quōque magis tegitur, tēctus magis aestuat ignis.
fissus erat tenuī rīmā, quam dūxerat ōlim,
cum fieret, pariēs domuī commūnis utrīque.

Every accomplice is absent, with nods and signs they speak
The more it is concealed, the more the fire having been concealed burns.
[There was] a wall [which] had been split by a slender crack, which the wall had shaped a long time ago,
when it was made, for each common house.



id vitium nūllī per saecula longa notātum—
quid nōn sentit amor? — prīmī vīdistis amantēs
et vōcis fēcistis iter, tūtaeque per illud
murmure blanditiae minimō trānsīre solēbant.

That defect, was noticed by no one through long ages —
what does love not notice? — you lovers first saw,
and made the passage of [your] voice, and through that
flatteries were accustomed to pass safe with the smallest murmur.



saepe, ubi cōnstiterant hinc Thisbē, Pyramus illinc,
inque vicēs fuerat captātus anhēlitus ōris,
‘invide’ dīcēbant ‘pariēs, quid amantibus obstās?
quantum erat, ut sinerēs tōtō nōs corpore iungī,
aut, hoc sī nimium est, vel ad oscula danda patērēs?

often, when they stood, Thisbe on one side, Pyramus on the other side,
and in turn had inhaled the breath of each other's mouth,
they would say, 'O envious wall, why do you block lovers?
how great it would be if you let us be joined in whole body,
Or, if this is too much, if you rather lay open for kisses to be given?



nec sumus ingrātī: tibi nōs dēbēre fatēmur,
quod datus est verbīs ad amīcas trānsitus auris.'
tālia dīversā nequīquam sēde locūtī
sub noctem dixēre 'valē' partīque dedēre
oscula quisque suae nōn pervenientia contrā.

But we are not ungrateful: we confess that we owe you
for giving [our] words a passage to friendly ears.’
Having said such things in vain from [their] separate place
at nightfall they said farewell and gave to [their respective] side
a kiss, neither of which reached the opposite [side].



postera nocturnōs aurōra remōverat ignēs,
sōlque pruīnōsās radiīs siccāverat herbās:
ad solitum coiēre locum. tum murmure parvō
multa prius questī, statuunt ut nocte silentī
fallere custōdēs foribusque excēdere temptent,
cumque domō exierint, urbis quoque tēcta relinquant,
nēve sit errandum lātō spatiāntibus arvō,
conveniant ad būsta Ninī lateāntque sub umbrā
arboris: arbor ibī niveīs ūberrima pōmīs,
ardua mōrus, erat, gelidō contermina fontī.

The following dawn had removed the nocturnal stars[2],
and the sun with its rays had dried the frosty grass:
they met at the usual place. Then, having with low murmur
bemoaned many things, they resolved that in the silent night
they would deceive their guardians and try to cross the gates,
and that after leaving the house, they would leave the buildings[3] of the city as well,
and that, lest they might get lost wandering in the open fields,
they would meet at the tomb of Ninus and hide under the shade
of a tree: a tree, overladen with snow-white fruit,
a towering mulberry tree was there, next to a cool fountain.



pacta placent; et lūx, tardē discēdere vīsa,
praecipitātur aquīs, et aquīs nox exit ab isdem.
Callida per tenebrās versātō cardine Thisbē
ēgreditur fallitque suōs adopertaque vultum
pervenit ad tumulum dictāque sub arbore sēdit.

The plans please [them]; and light, that seemed to depart late,
is thrown upon the waters, and night rises from the same waters.
With the hinge having been turned, crafty Thisbe sets out through the darkness
and deceives her own [people] and, having veiled her face,
comes to the tomb and sat under the aforesaid tree.



audācem faciēbat amor. venit ecce recēntī
caede leaena boum spumantis oblita rictus
depositura sitim vicini fontis in unda;
quam procul ad lunae radios Babylonia Thisbe
vidit et obscurum timido pede fugit in antrum,
dumque fugit, tergo velamina lapsa reliquit.

Love was making [her] brave. Behold a lioness comes, whose
foaming jaws were smeared by the recent slaughter of cattle,
about to quench her thirst in the waters of the nearby fountain
whom from afar, against the rays of the moon, Babylonian Thisbe
saw and fled with a timid foot into a dark cave,
and while she flees, she left her veil, having fallen from her back.



ut lea saeva sitim multa conpescuit unda,
dum redit in silvas, inventos forte sine ipsa
ore cruentato tenues laniavit amictus.

Just as the fierce lioness quenched her thirst with much water,
while she returned into the forest, she mangled with bloody mouth
the thin cloaks found by chance without [Thisbe] herself .



serius egressus vestigia vidit in alto
pulvere certa ferae totōque expalluit ore
Pyramus; ut vero vestem quoque sanguine tinctam
repperit, ‘una duos’ inquit ‘nox perdet amantes,
e quibus illa fuit longā dignissima vitā;
nostra nocens anima est. ego te, miseranda, peremi,
in loca plēna metūs quī iussī nocte venīrēs
nec prior huc veni. nostrum divellite corpus
et scelerata fero consumite viscera morsu,
o quīcumque sub hāc habitātīs rūpe leōnēs!

Having set out later, [Pyramus] saw, in deep
sand, the certain tracks of a wild animal, and his whole face
turned pale, when [ut] indeed also the garment stained with blood
[he] discovered. 'one night', he said, 'will destroy two lovers,
from which she was most worthy for long life.
My soul is guilty. I killed you, O [girl] who must be pitied,
[I] who, in places full of dread, ordered you to come by night,
nor did come here first. Tear apart our body
and devour our wicked entrails with your fierce bite,
O whatever lions dwell under this rock!



sed timidi est optare necem.' velamina Thisbes
tollit et ad pactae secum fert arboris umbram,
utque dedit notae lacrimas, dedit oscula vesti,
'accipe nunc' inquit 'nostri quoque sanguinis haustus!'
quoque erat accinctus, demisit in ilia ferrum,
nec moră, ferventī moriens e vulnere traxit.

But it is the mark of a cowardly man to desire death.' Thisbe’s veil
he lifts, and brings it with him to the shade of the tree agreed [on],
and as he shed [dedit] tears, and gave [dedit] kisses to the well-known garment,
'accept now', he said, 'draughts of my blood too!'
and he sent into his bowels the iron [sword] with which he had girt himself,
nor was [there] delay: dying he dragged the sword from his steaming wound.



ut iacuit resupinus humo, cruor emicat alte,
non aliter quam cum vitiato fistulă plumbo
scinditur et tenui stridente foramine longas
eiaculatur aquas atque ictibus aera rumpit.
arborei fetūs adspergine caedis in atram
vertuntur faciem, madefactaque sanguine radix
purpureō tinguit pendentia mōra colōrē.

As he lay on his back on the ground, blood spurts high,
no otherwise than when, split with damaged lead, a pipe
is cut, and through a thin hissing hole, a long stream of water
is spurted out and breaks the air with strokes.
The fruits of the tree turn the appearance black by the sprinkling of blood,
and the root stained with blood
colors the hanging mulberries with a purple color.



    “Ecce metu nondum posito, ne fallat amantem,
illa redit iuvenemque oculis animoque requirit,
quantaque vitarit narrare pericula gestit;
utque locum et visā cognoscit in arbore formam,
sic facit incertam pomi color: haeret, an haec sit.
dum dubitat, tremebunda videt pulsare cruentum
membra solum, retroque pedem tulit, oraque buxo
pallidiora gerens exhorruit aequoris instar,
quod tremit, exigua cum summum stringitur aura.
sed postquam remorata suos cognovit amores,
percutit indignos claro plangore lacertos
et laniata comas amplexaque corpus amatum
vulnera supplevit lacrimis fletumque cruori
miscuit et gelidis in vultibus oscula figens
‘Pyrame,’ clamavit, ‘quis te mihi cāsus ademit?

Behold with fear not yet placed aside, lest she should fail her lover
she returns and seeks the young man with her eyes and in spirit
she longs to tell how many dangers she avoided;
and although she knows the place and the form of the tree she saw,
the color of the fruit makes her unsure: she doubts whether this [tree] is it.
While she hesitates, she sees that quivering limbs beat the blood-stained
soil, and she retreated backwards, she shuddered
bearing an expression [lit. a face] paler than boxwood, like surface of the sea
which trembles when the top is grazed by a slight breeze.
but after, having delayed, she recognized her own loves,
and she struck her unworthy arms with shrill shriek
and having torn her hair and having embraced the beloved body
she filled the wound with tears and mixed her tears with
the blood and fixing kisses on the cold face,
she shouted “O Pyramus, what misfortune takes you from me?



Pyrame, responde! tua te carissima Thisbe
nominat; exaudi vultusque attolle iacentes!’
ad nomen Thisbes oculos a morte gravatos
Pyramus ērexit visāque recondidit illā.

O Pyramus, respond! Your most dear Thisbe
calls you; heed and lift your lying countenances!”
At the name ‘Thisbe’ Pyramus stirred eyes made heavy by death
and closed them again after he saw her.



    “Quae postquam vestemque suam cognovit et ense
vidit ebur vacuum, ‘tua te manus’ inquit ‘amorque
perdidit, infelix! est et mihi fortis in unum
hōc manus, est et amor: dābit hǐc in vulnera vires.

    “After she recognized her veil, she saw the ivory [sheath] without
a sharpened point, [and] said “your hand and love has destroyed you,
o unlucky one! For this one thing I have both
a brave hand and the love: this [love] will give strength to wounds.



persequar extinctum letique miserrima dicar
causa comesque tui: quique a me morte revelli
heu sola poteras, poteris nec morte revelli.
hōc tāmēn ambōrum verbīs estōte rogāti,
ō multum miseri meus illiusque parentes,
ut, quos certus amor, quos hora novissima iunxit,
conponi tumulo non invideatis eodem;

I’ll accompany [you] perished, and I most disturbed will be said
your death’s cause and companion: you who could be plucked away from me
alas by death alone, nor can you be torn away by death.
however be this to be asked with words of both [of us],
o my and his most wretched parents
do not begrudge that we whom certain love joined at the final hour,
be placed together in the same tomb;



at tu, quae ramis arbor miserabile corpus
nunc tegis unius, mox es tectura duorum,
signa tene caedis pullosque et luctibus aptos
semper habē fetūs, geminī monumenta cruoris.’

but you, the tree who now covers the miserable corpse of one man
with your branches, you are soon about to cover [the bodies] of two,
hold signs of slaughter and always have dreary-colored fruits
suitable for lamentations, reminders of twofold bloodshed.”



dixit et aptātō pectus mūcrōne sub īmum
incubuit ferrō, quod adhūc ā caede tepēbat.
vōta tamen tetigēre deōs, tetigēre parentēs;
nam color in pōmō est, ubi permātūruit, āter,
quodque rogīs superest, ūnā requiēscit in urnā.”

She spoke and fell upon the sword fastened at its point up to the bottom of her chest,
which still was warm from his bloodshed.
Nevertheless [her] prayers touched the gods [and] touched her parents:
for the black color is in the fruit, when it became fully ripe,
and that which remains from the funeral pyre rests in one urn.”


  1. 'The wall common to each house' = 'paries domui communis utrique' on the next line.
  2. literally "fires of night"
  3. literally "roofs"
edit AP Latin Syllabus
Vergil: Aeneid Book 1 (lines 1-519), Book 2 (lines 1-56, 199-297, 469-566, 735-804), Book 4 (lines 1-448, 642-705), Book 6 (lines 1-211, 450-476, 847-901), Book 10 (lines 420-509), Book 12 (lines 791-842, 887-952)
Catullus: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (6), 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14a, 16, (21), 22, 30, 31, (34), 35, 36, 39, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 65, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73, 75, 76, 77, 79, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 92, 93, 94, 96, 101, 107, 109, 116.
Cicero: Pro Archia Poeta; De Amicitia 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104; Pro Caelio 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 41, 42, 43, 47, 48, 49, 50, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 63, 66, 67, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80
Horace: Sermones 1.9; Odes 1.1, 1.5, 1.9, 1.11, 1.13, 1.22, 1.23, 1.24, 1.25, 1.37, 1.38, 2.3, 2.7, 2.10, 2.14, 3.1, 3.9, 3.13, 3.30, 4.7
Ovid: Daphne and Apollo, Pyramus and Thisbe, Daedalus and Icarus, Baucis and Philemon, Pygmalion; Amores 1.1, (1.2), 1.3, (1.4), (1.5), (1.6), (1.7), 1.9, 1.11, 1.12, (1.14), (1.15), 3.15