The Myth of Orpheus

In a nutshell, it could be summed up as a tragic love story. The story of Orpheus is one of the most famous in Greek mythology. It is a unique story of love, passion, and weakness of human spirit.

Myth has it that Orpheus was a leading icon of antiquity music and poetry. The impression of his music could coax rocks and trees into dance, charm the beasts of the wilderness, and arrest river courses.

Orpheus Love for Eurydice

When Orpheus was given a lyre by his father, Apollo, he perfected playing it. So good was his music that even his father was surprised at his skills.

Orpheus found Eurydice, a woman of irresistible beauty, and fell in love with her. They got married and lived happily in what was referred to as a perfect couple.

When Apollo asked Hymen to come and bless the marriage of Orpheus, the prediction was not good. Hymen predicted that the perfect marriage of Orpheus would be short-lived.

A few years after this omen, Eurydice was enjoying the beauty of the forest when a shepherd, Aristaeus, saw her and was moved by her beauty. He started making advances that made Eurydice get scared and to run away. She was bitten by a snake on the leg and died.

Orpheus sang his grief using the lyre and touched both humans and gods.

Orpheus Ascends to Hell

Apollo advised Orpheus to go down to the hades and meet his wife. If it was any other person, this would have involved dying. However, Orpheus was protected by gods and was able to descend into hell.

He passed the ghosts of people who had died earlier to reach the infamous Stygian realm. Using his music, Orpheus also managed to charm and pass the monster with three heads, Cerberus.

Orpheus finally reached the god of the underworld hell. He played lyre for the god of the underworld and his wife (Persephone) that the melodies started meting the cold hearts of hell. Orpheus was allowed to take his wife on one condition; “he should not look back until he came out to the light.”

Orpheus followed the rule but changed mind when he was about to get out of the caves of hell. He started thinking he was being fooled because he could not hear the footsteps of his wife. When he took a glance back, he lost her wife forever.

When Orpheus tried to return to hade, it was impossible because a man cannot go there twice when alive.

Orpheus’s Insanity and Death

After failing to get back his wife from hell, Orpheus went mad. He started living in the wild spurning love for ladies. Despite this, many still desired him!

One day when he was singing in the woods, a dozen of Thracian women attacked him with stones and twigs and killed him. His head and lyre were cast into Hebrus River where he continued releasing mourning lyrics until they reached the sea.