Romeo and Juliet
Probably the most famous love story of all was written by the celebrated English poet and playwright William Shakespeare sometime in the 1590s. Shakespeare’s story of the tragic love between Romeo and Juliet is probably based on Arthur Brooke’s poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet that was published in the 1560s. The latter is believed to be an English translation of a novella of Italian writer Matteo Bandello. But even his Romeo and Juliet are not original. The story reveals a major influence of ancient tragic love stories, most notably of the Roman story of Pyramus and Thisbe whose families despise each other and prevent the lovers to be together. Just like Pyramus kills himself, falsely believing that Thisbe is dead, Romeo also commits suicide for mistakenly believing that Juliet is dead. Thisbe follows her lover in death upon discovering his dead body which is exactly what Juliet does when she finds Romeo dead. Both Thisbe and Juliet stab themselves but Romeo, unlike Pyreus who stabs himself with his sword, drinks a poison.