“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life”

Thwarted by parents. Thwarted by fate. Murder-suicide. Double suicide. Poisons and deathly potions. Impaled on swords? Yes. Mauled by lions? Well, no, actually, but he thought she was, and guess what he did? Love here, red in tooth and claw.

Gregorio Pagani, “Pyramus and Thisbe” (via Uffizi Gallery)

In Ovid’s story of Pyramus and Thisbe, two young lovers, forbidden to marry because of family rivalries whisper their forbidden love through cracks in the wall. Their story met its fateful end when the lovers decided to escape their families, and meet under a mulberry tree. Thisbe arrived at the rendezvous first, and narrowly escaped a lion attack, dropping her distinctive veil in the process. When Pyramus arrives and finds the blood soaked veil, he throws himself on his sword; when Thisbe returns to the scene, she does the same.

As he fell back to earth, his spurting blood shot upward in the air; so, when decay has rift a leaden pipe a hissing jet of water spurts on high.

By that dark tide the berries on the tree assumed a deeper tint, for as the roots soaked up the blood the pendent mulberries were dyed a purple tint.

The story of Pyramus and Thisbe is thought to be the inspiration for Shakespeare’s more famous suicidal lovers, Romeo and Juliet, minus the lion. Mulberries are indeed blood red. And delicious.

N. C. Wyeth illustration from “The Boy’s King Arthur” of King Mark killing Tristan while he was playing the harp for Isolde (via Wikimedia)

The tragic and poetic love triangle of Tristan and Isolde (and Mark) inspired the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere (and Arthur) 

“The fainting of Laylah and Majnun” (16th century) (via Library of Congress)

The man driven insane by unrequited love in the tale of  Layla and Majnun is based on a real descent into lovelorn madness 

Mayerling - Atlas Obscura

One hundred and twenty-three years ago today, the bodies of the crown prince of Austria & his young lover were discovered. Chaos ensues. 


Juliet's Balcony - Atlas Obscura

Verona, Italy

Every year tourists from around the globe, flock to Verona just to see the balcony where Juliet was wooed by her Romeo.


Rooster - atlasobscura.com/place/massive-rooster-sculpture

Darahoa, Vietnam

This gigantic rooster in Darahoa, Vietnam remembers an ill-fated love between members of two local tribes.


Mayerling Lodge

Mayerling, Austria

Site of the 1889 murder-suicide of crown prince Rudolf and his lover Mary Vetsera


 Tomb of Ines de Castro

Kiev, Ukraine

In Portugal, the tombs of King Pedro I and his mistress Ines de Castro are inscribed with the words “Until the end of the world…”


Morbid Mondays highlight macabre stories from around the world and through time, indulging our morbid curiosity for stories from history’s darkest corners. Read more Morbid Mondays>

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