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William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet
Classic Horror Movies

Was 'Romeo and Juliet' based on a true story?

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August 04, 2011 12:58AM

In 1530 a guy in Italy called Luigi da Porto wrote a story called Giuletta e Romeo, which is pretty darn similar to the story we know. And da Porto claimed it was all true, and that it had happened between 1375 and 1381 in Verona.

Well, that should satisfy us, except, if we behave like snopes, we find that there is a story called Mariotto e Gianozza published in 1476 which is virtually the same story except that the author swears it took place in Siena and he was around when it happened.

Do we detect an urban legend here?

Add to that that parts of the story seem to have been drawn from Bocaccio's Decameron, Ovid's Metamorphoses (the Pyramus and Thisbe story) and Xenophon's Ephesiaca. Hmm.

And in addition, there were no Capulets in Verona. They were from Cremona (The Montagues were Veronese however).

All of this means that, no, Romeo and Juliet is not a true story, and the events it talks about did not happen in 1303. That date appears to have been proposed by the grossly inaccurate City of Verona Tourist Site, which of course would love to have you believe that the story was true.