cover art: my digital painting "Orpheus and Eurydike". Available for download and as print at
After the Argonauts returned to Greece, Orpheus fell in love with a beautiful woman names Eurydice> They were married and a great feast was held in their honor. On the day of their wedding, Eurydice strolled through a nearby field and talked joyfully with her friends. But as she walked through the bright green meadow, she stumbled upon a poisonous snake. The huge serpent bit her and she died.
Orpheus was heartbroken over this cruel fate. He had been married and widowed on the same day. After many weeks of mourning, he decided that he would go to Hades,the land of the dead. There he would plead for his wife.
He came to the gates that lead to the underworld, playing on his harp. No living mortals were allowed to cross into the shadowy regions of the underworld. But Orpheus' sweet dad music moved the ferry and of the dead and he gave Orpheus a ride across the dark murky river Styx. Thus Orpheus entered the purple-darkened realm of the dead. Formless ghosts and spirits gathered around him. But Orpheus was unfrightened and continued to play his slow music about his lost wife. The Spirits began to weep and the huge vultures of the underworld listened to his song.The three-headed dog that guarded the Underworld stopped growling and laid down and whimpered at the dad tine. Orpheus passed by the coal-black stallions that pulled the chariot of Pluto. The horses' ears stood straight up when they heard the enchanting song. Finally the musician came before Pluto, King of the Underworld called Hades.All the jewels and precious metals that lie in the ground rightfully belonged to Pluto's domain. Thus he and his wife< Persephone, sat on the most magnificent thrones imaginable.Beside Pluto lay a magic helmet that would make anyone who wore it invisible. Here, before the King and Queen of Hades, Orpheus sang his sad, sweet song and pleaded to have his bride back. Even the rulers of the underworld were moved by h is music. Eurydice was called forth and she came still limping from the wound where the serpent had bitten her. The gods of Hades agreed that Orpheus could have his wife back, but only on the condition that he did not look back until he had reached the land of the living.
Orpheus began walking up the long steep path that led to the sunlit world of men. The winding pathway was gloomy and silent. Behind his in the darkness he could hear the soft pad of Eurydice's bare feet upon the rocky steps. At last Orpheus saw sunlight coming through the opening to the overworld. he forgot himself and turned to look at his wife. There stood Eurydice, as lovely as a Spring morning with her dark wavy hair and her snowy cheeks. But as he looked Orpheus saw his lovely wife begin to fade. He desperately tried to embrace her but she only had time to whisper "Farewell" before she vanished.
Orpheus once again tried to cross the River Styx in hopes of regaining his wife. But the ferryman would not listen to Orpheus' enchanting music this time and he soul not cross the river. He sadly returned to the land of Thrace. Oh a hill in Thrace, Orpheus remained the rest of his life, singing songs that enchanted the beast and the trees of the forest.
It is said that when Orpheus finally met his death, the birds wept on the hillside.The trees shed their leaves and the nearby streams were swollen with their own tears. Orpheus' spirit went down to the Underworld and he soon found Eurydice. Although it is a shadowy existence the two walk together for eternity without fear of another separation.