The tragic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice

Greek Mythology is extremely vast and engaging. Imagine a movie with every kind of genre fitting into its description. You might think that’d make the movie a bit confusing and messy, well, Greek Mythology is just that and a lot more.

One of the most legends therein is that of Orpheus and Eurydice. Their love story doesn’t even start off with a happy note. It is indeed a tragic tale because Eurydice died right on the day of their marriage after being bitten by a serpent.

How did Orpheus deal with Eurydice’s death?

He was overtaken by grief and he took to extreme measures as he was determined to bring her back to life. To do so, he embarked on a journey to the world of the Dead- the Underworld.

Orpheus was a great musician and was best known for his artistry at playing the lyre. Once in front of the Underworld, he started playing a certain tune that put Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the gates, to sleep.

He then passed ahead and met Charon, the ferryman who carried the souls of the dead across the River Styx but he always charged them for it. However, once Orpheus started playing again, Charon was hypnotized by his music and let Orpheus travel with him free of cost.

Finally, Orpheus reached the King and the Queen of the Underworld- Hades and Persephone. He sang of his love for Eurydice and prayed to Hades to let her leave the Palace of the Dead with him.

Did Hades agree to Orpheus’ plea?

The answer is Yes and No. Hades did agree to let Eurydice go but he crafted his acceptance in such a way that Orpheus must stand up to his condition. He told him that while returning back he must not turn around to check if Eurydice was following him or not, otherwise, she would never leave the Underworld.

Was Orpheus successful?

As he climbed his way back to where he came from, he was constantly questioning the situation he was in. He became insecure as he thought that Eurydice was after all not with him since he couldn’t hear any footsteps.

As he was taking the last step out of the Underworld, he couldn’t help but turn around to confirm his doubts and it cost him.

He tried to go back to earn a favour yet again, but he was barred from entering the Underworld.

The Aftermath

He pledged to never love another woman and sat in the company of nature, playing his lyre and singing sad love songs. This awakened a kind of consciousness in him that he could look into the stories of Gods and Goddesses. His contemplation was soon disrupted by a group of women known as the Maenads. [They were the female followers of Dionysus, the God of Wine (also known as Bacchus in the Roman Mythology)]

They found it hard to accept that such a prolific poet didn’t find them attractive and so they murdered him.

The world found this loss pretty heavy but Orpheus finally found this way to Eurydice in the underworld after his death.

What we today refer to as Love Poetry was actually birthed by the Orpheus’ love songs.

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