Concept by Carolyn Komatsoulis
A pair of young lovers named Romeo Montague, 16, and Juliet Capulet, 14, were found dead in the Capulet family crypt on Tuesday night in Verona, Italy in what police said is a double suicide.
This incident, set off by the shared conviction that one couldn’t live without the other, is the first since the double suicide of star-crossed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe in Babylon in 8 AD.
An autopsy determined that Romeo died of self-poisoning and Juliet died from stab wounds to the chest. Anonymous sources confirmed that Romeo and Juliet had known each other for approximately four days, marrying less than 24 hours after meeting.
Juliet’s father, Capulet, had originally arranged for her to marry Count Paris, a kinsman of Prince Escalus, the ruling Prince of Verona.
“After Juliet got into a fight with her father about her refusal to marry Paris, she came to me begging for help,” said local Franciscan friar Friar Laurence, who on request from Montague secretly officiated his marriage to Capulet.
“I gave her a potion that she was to take the night before her wedding to Paris. It was intended to put her in a deathlike coma for 42 hours,” he said. “I promised her that I would send a messenger to Romeo to let him know about the plan so that he could rejoin her when she awakened. But that didn’t go so well.”
According to unnamed sources, Romeo originally harbored an unrequited infatuation with Rosaline, Capulet’s niece. Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin and best friend, and his kinsman, Mercutio, persuaded him to attend a ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline. Instead, Romeo met and fell in love with Juliet.
“I was shocked at Romeo’s sudden shift from Rosaline to Juliet, but young love is just as passionate as it is fickle,” said Friar Laurence. “But I agreed to marry them because I had hoped that their union would reconcile their families, who had been feuding more intensely than usual at the time.”
Unfortunately, the marriage had ill-fated consequences.
Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, was infuriated that Romeo had snuck into the Capulet ball and was prepared to kill him. He was only stopped by Capulet, who did not wish to shed blood in the Capulet house. Tybalt was reportedly still enraged a day later and challenged Romeo to a public duel.
According to Benvolio, Romeo refused to fight because after the marriage, he considered Tybalt his kinsman. Mercutio, who was also present at the scene, accepted the duel on Romeo’s behalf, finding Tybalt’s behavior offensive and indicative of his “vile insolence.”
When Romeo attempted to break up the fight, Mercutio was fatally wounded and killed. Grief-stricken and wracked with guilt, Romeo killed Tybalt. In response to the duel and Tybalt’s death, Prince Escalus exiled Romeo from Verona under penalty of death should he ever return.
Upon hearing of the duel, Juliet was reportedly distraught. According to Lady Capulet, when Juliet refused her father’s offer to marry her to Paris, he threatened to disown her. Lady Capulet then rejected Juliet’s pleas for the wedding to be delayed, so Juliet met with Friar Laurence to obtain the potion.
“When Capulet and Lady Capulet discovered Juliet apparently dead the morning of her wedding to Paris, they laid her in the family crypt,” said the Nurse, Juliet’s personal attendant and confidant. “Watching Juliet grow into a beautiful young woman only to see this terrible thing happen was heartbreaking for me.”
Unfortunately, Romeo never received the letter from Friar Laurence’s messenger informing him about the plan, instead learning of her apparent death from his servant, Balthasar. Heartbroken, Romeo purchased poison from an apothecary and snuck into the Capulet family crypt.
Paris, who had come to mourn Juliet privately, encountered Romeo at the crypt, believed him to be a vandal, and confronted him. Romeo killed Paris in the ensuing duel, said police.
After killing Paris, Romeo apparently still believed that Juliet was dead, so he committed suicide by drinking the poison. The vial was found on the ground next to the coffin. Juliet awoke, found Romeo dead, and stabbed herself with his dagger.
The Montagues, the Capulets, and Prince Escalus met at Juliet’s tomb shortly afterward only to find all three individuals dead. Friar Laurence then revealed the story of Romeo and Juliet’s love and the Montagues and the Capulets to agree to end their violent feud.
Montague and Capulet refused to respond to requests for comment.
Sources close to Capulet confirm that he saw no problem with forcing his daughter to marry a man 10 years her senior. Growing public disapproval of his belief marks a shift in cultural attitudes about arranged marriages, especially among the upper class.
“I hope that Capulet considers the effect that his decision had on the fate of his young daughter. Such behavior is inappropriate for a noble,” said Prince Escalus. “And I hope that the Montagues and the Capulets’ agreement to end their feud stays in place.
“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Featured image from romeoejulietapoe00patr on Flickr commons.