The most tragic love story ever told is that of Orpheus and Eurydice. One of the most well-known Greek tales, it served as an inspiration to many notable artists, including Peter Paul Rubens and Nicolas Poussin. In addition, numerous operas, songs, and plays have been written in their honor to remember these two wonderful lovers who tragically died before they could experience their love.
There are a few minor variations among the various versions of the Orpheus and Eurydice narrative. The earliest record is from the Greek lyric poet Ibycus, who lived around 530 BC. Here, we offer you a combination of these several variants.
The Orpheus and Eurydice Myth
Orpheus, talented at playing music
The greatest skilled musician of ancient times is thought to have been Orpheus. He is claimed to have inherited his exceptional musical aptitude from the god Apollo and the Muse Calliope. He was residing in Thrace, in Greece’s northeast. Everyone who heard Orpheus’ divinely endowed voice was charmed. He quickly grasped the lyre when it was initially introduced to him as a youngster. Neither god or mortal, according to the tale, could withstand his song, and even the rocks and trees would move to be close to him.
Orpheus is credited with teaching agriculture, writing, and medicine to humanity, according to some ancient sources. He is also credited as being a seer, an astrologer, and the creator of numerous mystic rites. People’s minds would be piqued by Orpheus’ weird and ecstatic music, which also had the ability to open people’s minds to novel, unconventional theories.
Orpheus had a musical talent, but he also had a spirit of adventure. He was thought to have taken part in Jason’s and his fellow Argonauts’ journey to Colchis in order to steal the Golden Fleece, known as the Argonautic expedition. In reality, Orpheus was crucial to the success of the voyage because, via the use of his music, he was able to put to sleep the “sleepless dragon” that was guarding the Golden Fleece, allowing Jason to successfully capture it. In addition, the Argonauts were protected by Orpheus’ song from the mysterious, female-like creatures known as Sirens, who lured men with their seductive voices before killing them.
At first sight, love
The ideal pursuits of music and poetry used to occupy a significant portion of Orpheus’ formative years. His skill was far more impressive than his music’s notoriety and regard. It would enchant both humans and animals, and frequently even the most inanimate objects would wish to be close to him. He had mastered the lyre by the time he was still a young man, and people came from far and wide to hear him sing. He first noticed a wood nymph at one of these gatherings of people and animals. Eurydice was the name of the shy, beautiful girl. She had been attracted to Orpheus because of his voice, and neither could tear their gazes away due to the enchantment established by the music and his presence. The two young people’s hearts were pulled inexplicably, and before long they were deeply in love and unwilling to be apart. They eventually made the decision to get married.
The morning of their wedding was sunny and clear. A huge feast then ensued when Hymenaios, the deity of marriage, sanctified their union. There was a lot of laughter and joy all around. The wedding guests soon dispersed from the newlyweds, who were still seated hand in hand and with starry eyes, as the celebration that had lasted for most of the day came to an end as the shadows became enormous. Soon after, they both realized it was time to leave and set off for home.
The Snake Bite
Yet things will soon change, and joy would follow sadness. There was one man who hated Orpheus and wanted Eurydice all to himself. A shepherd named Aristaeus had devised a strategy to subdue the lovely nymph. He was standing there in the underbrush, watching for the young pair to pass by. He meant to leap on the lovers and murder Orpheus when he saw them approaching. Orpheus grabbed Eurydice by the hand and began fleeing pell-mell across the forest as the shepherd made his move.
Aristaeus didn’t appear to be slowing down or giving up despite the prolonged pursuit. They continued to run, and then all of a sudden, Orpheus felt Eurydice trip and fall, her hand sliding from his. He hurried to her side, unable to fathom what had just transpired, but he had to stop short in shock when he noticed the deathly pallor that covered her cheeks. Because Aristaeus had seen the incident and departed, when he turned to look around, he could find no sign of the shepherd. Eurydice had stumbled on a snake nest nearby and was bitten by a poisonous viper. Aristaeus had given up his attempt after realizing there was little possibility of survival and was angry with Orpheus and his bad luck.
A Supernatural Plan
Orpheus was no longer the same carefree individual he had been before the death of his cherished wife. His life without Eurydice seemed to go on forever, and he was only able to weep for her. At this point, he had a brilliant but insane idea: he would travel to Underworld and attempt to get his wife back. His father, Apollo, would approach Hades, the god of the underworld, to request that he take the boy and hear his cries.
With his voice, lyre, and weapons in hand, Orpheus approached Hades and demanded admission to the underworld. Nobody pressed him. Orpheus explained his purpose for being there as he stood in front of the dead kings and queens in a voice that was both sweet and unsettling. He sung and played his lyre before King Hades and Queen Persephone, pleading for Eurydice to be brought back to him. Even the most heartless of individuals or Gods could not have ignored the hurt in his voice.
Even Cerberus, the enormous three-headed hound manning the entrance to the underworld, covered his many ears with his paws and howled in agony as Hades sobbed openly, Persephone’s heart broke, and all of these events occurred. Hades made a last-ditch promise to this desperate man that Eurydice would accompany him to the Higher World, the world of the living, after hearing Orpheus’ voice. Yet he cautioned Orpheus not to look back while his wife was still unaware since doing so would negate all of his previous good intentions. He ought to hold off on looking at Eurydice until she entered the light.
Orpheus set out from the underworld with tremendous faith in his heart and joy in his song, glad that he would meet his love once more. Orpheus heard the footsteps of his wife coming toward him as he was approaching the entrance to the Underworld. He wanted to turn around and hug her instantly but managed to restrain his feelings. His heart was thumping more quickly and quicker as he got closer to the exit. He turned to give his wife a bear hug as soon as he stepped onto the living side of things. Eurydice was unfortunately only briefly visible to him before she was dragged back into the abyss.
Eurydice had not yet seen the sun when Orpheus turned his head, and as Hades had forewarned him, his beloved wife had been submerged back into the shadowy realm of the dead. He was overcome by waves of agony and sorrow, and trembling with sadness, he once more made his way to the Underworld. However, this time, he was refused access because the gates were closed and the god Hermes, who had been sent by Zeus, would not open them for him.
Demise of Orpheus
The singer was left in complete sorrow and began to wander aimlessly day after day and night after night. Nothing offered any solace to him. His misfortune tortured him, pushing him to avoid all interaction with women, and gradually but surely he came to utterly hate their presence. His tunes were quite depressing rather than happy anymore. His sole solace was to lie on a large boulder and enjoy the breeze; the only thing he could see were the clear skies.
Because of his contempt for them, a group of enraged women happened to come across him. In his desperation, Orpheus did not even attempt to thwart their advances. He was murdered by the women, who then dismembered him and dumped him, along with his lyre, into a river. According to legend, his head and lyre floated to the island of Lesvos while traveling downstream. The Muses discovered them there and performed an appropriate funeral for Orpheus. Others thought that music, sad but lovely, came from his grave. His soul traveled to Hades, where he met his beloved Eurydice once more.
The comparison to a Bible scene
If you carefully examine the aforementioned myth, you will notice a parallel between it and a scene from the Bible. The tale of Lot and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice are comparable. The metaphor of “not looking back” is crucial to both tales.
In the Book of Genesis, God commanded a good man named Lot to take his family and leave the area when he planned to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities that were drowning in sin. God commanded them to flee to the mountains and not to turn around to see the city being destroyed. Lot’s wife couldn’t help herself and turned around as they were leaving the city to view the burning cities. She changed right away into a pillar of salt! This might be seen as the immediate, frightening result of disobedience to God.