When Shakespeare wrote his burlesque of "Pyramus and Thisbe" for A Midsummer Night's Dream in the 1590's, the story was already worn from countless retellings and appeared ready, doubtless, for parody. Yet it was to survive for nearly three centuries more as serious drama or as opera. 1 The fortunes of such a perdurable story, retaining its identity under all the accidental elaborations and shifts of emphasis brought about by the changing sensibilities of different eras, may be an interesting thread in the history of taste. I propose to look at two versions of the story, a twelfth-century one and a mid-sixteenth-century one, and to note what survived and what varied between the two points. 2 It may be possible, even, by viewing the story in such a wide context, to throw some new light on Shakespeare's handling of it.