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Orpheus and Euridice, Charles De Sousy Ricketts, 1922.
Orpheus and Eurydice, Auguste Rodin, 1893.
Landscape With Orpheus And Eurydice, Nicolas Poussin, 1648.
Orpheus and Eurydice, Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein, 1806.
Orpheus and Eurydice, Jean-Louis Ducis, 1826.

 

 

Orpheus was the greatest musician in all of Athens, and was married to the beautiful Eurydice. Unfortunately, their happiness was brief, since a snake bit Eurydice and sent her away to the Underworld, leaving Orpheus to mourn her death. Despite his grief he found a drop of solace in playing his lyre. Orpheus’s music was so astonishing that even the guards at the gates of the Underworld couldn’t withstand its irresistible tune – they were so captivated by it that Orpheus merely strolled past them taking the spiral stairs towards the Earth’s core. The music he was playing enchanted even the furies and the ghosts, it stopped Sisyphus from pushing his stone; even the vulture pecking Tityus’s liver paused for a moment to savour the melody. Orpheus soon came to the river Styx where he found Hades with his wife Persephone, the goddess of spring. While she was enamored by his playing, Hades was not as pleased.
At the same time, Orpheus caught a glimpse of Eurydice and the goddess of spring persuaded Hades to let the two mortals go back to the surface. Hades consented under one simple condition – Orpheus mustn’t look back. He gratefully accepted the demand and the two lovers swiftly mounted the spiral stairs. Suddenly, Eurydice squeezed Orpheus’s hand, and he looked back at her. They shared a short gaze and her body vaporized in front of him. Orpheus found himself standing on the surface completely desolate. He continued playing his lyre but found no comfort in it. Women swarmed him but he wanted nothing of them – the memory of Eurydice was all he cared about. Orpheus eventually found release in death - a group of wild women tore his limbs off one by one; lastly, his head was thrown into a stream, and he died calling out Eurydice’s name.