Greek Myths: Orpheus and Eurydice

Retold By Kelsey Burns and Dustin Lewis


Narrative First Retold By J.F. Bierlein


Orpheus was the son of a mortal father and the Muse Calliope. At a young age they noticed that he had a talent with music. The god Apollo gave Orpheus a lyre to play, and make beautiful music. When Orpheus grew into his adult stage he met Eurydice. He fell in love with her, and they got married.
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Orpheus and Eurydice bewed

While they were newlyweds Orpheus and Eurydice took a walk by a river. A strange man tried to take Eurydice and while she was trying to escape the kidnapper she had trotted along the path of a poisonous viper that bit her. The venom took her life shortly after it had entered her body. Orpheus was so upset that he begged and pleaded to the gods to go get her back from the underworld. He played his lyre to show his feelings through music. The gods fell in love with his ability to compose music, so they granted his request to go get her back from the underworld.
When Orpheus arrived at the border of the underworld, and the land of the living he played his lyre to produce beautiful music once again. When a man heard his music he agreed to take Orpheus across the water to the underworld. The man was so touched by the beautiful sounds from Orpheus’s lyre that he took him across the water for no charge. There was a three-headed dog at the gate of the underworld called Cerberus. Orpheus once again played his lyre, and the beautiful sounds put the dog to sleep. Orpheus then proceeded through the gate to the underworld where he played his lyre and, the judges and, punished souls of the underworld listened for a moment. All of the souls that heard the music were touched.
Orpheus met the king of the underworld Hades. The music touched his heart. Hades said Orpheus could get his wife, and take her back to the land of the living. Hades’ only request upon this is that Orpheus must not look back at his wife Eurydice until they have reached the land of the living, or she would be damned to the underworld forever. As Orpheus and Eurydice proceeded from the underworld to the land of the living Orpheus could not control himself, so on their journey Orpheus looked back to make sure the love of his life was there. Orpheus disobeyed Hades’ orders, so Eurydice was damned to the underworld forever.
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Orpheus and Eurydice embrace


Interpretation By: Kelsey Burns and Dustin Lewis


The myth of “Orpheus and Eurydice” explores parts of the Greek and Roman afterlife, parts of the journey to the underworld, and the power of love. When love is revealed, the result depicts that loving a person is a good thing, but over loving somebody can really be a bad thing because the person may lose their loved on by loving them so much. The value of love showcases a double edged sword because somebody’s love for an individual could strike them hard, yet it will strike them twice as hard when they lose the one they love from being overly in love.
Considering “Orpheus and Eurydice” explores these few parts of mythology the main message of the story is love and loss, and how love can be a double edged sword. Love and loss plays a big role in our myth because Orpheus is married to Eurydice and he is in complete love with her. He shows this by going to the underworld and playing his music to show his feelings which made everybody stop what they are doing and show sympathy for him. He gets to the underworld and meets Hades. When he has this encounter Orpheus is told by Hades who is the ruler of the underworld that he can have his wife back. The only catch to Hades’ agreement is that while they proceed from the underworld back the land of the living Orpheus must not look back to see the face of his wife Eurydice, or she will stay in the underworld forever. It may sound easy but Orpheus is in love with Eurydice, and with that draws a conflict because he could not bear not being able to see the face of his wife, so he looked back. Love is a double edged sword because he loves her so much that he went to the underworld to get her back, but on his way back he lost his wife forever when he looked back because he loved her so much.
The myth of “Orpheus and Eurydice” is a story of true love and how it can be a good thing, but also how it can be a bad thing. This myth shows that true love is going to the end of the world to get someone back, but if somebody does not follow the rules it will be the worst mistake of their life. This myth can be described by saying love is a double edged sword that will hurt them or someone else depending on which way the sword is swung. Orpheus loved Eurydice so much that he went to the underworld for her, but he swung the sword the wrong way and struck himself. He showed he loved her by trying to get her back, but he damned her to the underworld forever because he could not control himself, or his love for Eurydice.
There are millions of reviews of this story by scholars all over the world, but this one stood out to us. "
Henryson's use of the Orpheus legend seems to reflect the most didactic side of his character as well as his interest in romance and myth. He refers specifically to his sources in the moralitas. His version of the tale is based on Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, III, xii. The moralitas is derived from Nicholas Trivet's commentary on the Consolation. Henryson's interest in the story of Orpheus was likely due to the rich appeal of the tale during the Middle Ages." (Robert L. Kindrick.
http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/orphint.htm).