While Pyramus lay dying under the tree, Thisbe had recovered from her fright, and now stole forth from her hiding-place, hoping that her lover might be at hand. What was her dismay when she saw Pyramus stretched lifeless on the ground. Kneeling down beside him, she washed his wound with her tears, and kissed his cold lips, calling on him in vain to speak. “Speak to me, Pyramus,” she cried, “’tis your beloved Thisbe that calls.”
At the sound of her voice Pyramus opened his failing eyes, and gave his love one last look, then he closed them for ever. When Thisbe saw her own cloak and the empty sheath, she guessed that, thinking her dead, he had sought death himself.
“’Twas by your own hand you fell,” she cried, “a victim to love, and love will give my hand strength to do the like. Since those who were parted in life are united in death, perhaps our sorrowing parents will grant us the boon of a common tomb. May we rest side by side, even as we have fallen, and may this tree, which has witnessed our despair and our death, bear the traces for evermore. Let its fruit be clothed in mourning garb for the death of two hapless lovers.”
With these words she threw herself on the sword of Pyramus. Her last prayer was granted, for one urn held the ashes of the faithful pair. And since that night the mulberry tree bears purple fruit to recall to all generations of lovers the cruel fate of Pyramus and Thisbe.
ADAPTED BY ALICE ZIMMERN
Orpheus, the Thracian singer, was the most famous of all the musicians of Greece. Apollo himself had given him his golden harp, and on it he played music of such wondrous power and beauty that rocks, trees and beasts would follow to hear him. Jason had persuaded Orpheus to accompany the Argonauts when they went to fetch back the golden fleece, for he knew that the perils of the way would be lightened by song. To the sound of his lyre the Argo had floated down to the sea, and he played so sweetly when they passed the rocks of the Sirens that the dreadful monsters sang their most alluring strains in vain.
Orpheus wedded the fair nymph Eurydice, whom he loved dearly, and who returned his love. But at their marriage the omens were not favorable. Hymen, the marriage god, came to it with a gloomy countenance and the wedding torches smoked and would not give forth a cheerful flame.
Indeed the happiness of Orpheus and Eurydice was to be but short-lived. For as the new-made bride wandered through the woods with the other nymphs a poisonous serpent stung her heel, and no remedy availed to save her. Orpheus was thrown into most passionate grief at his wife’s death. He could not believe that he had lost her for ever, but prayed day and night without ceasing to the gods above to restore her to him. When they would not listen, he resolved to make one last effort to win her back. He would go down to the Lower World and seek her among the dead, and try whether any prayer or persuasion could move Pluto to restore his beloved.