Today's story is a tale of love and challenging the bonds of death to be together again. This is the famous story of Orpheus' descent into Hades in order to retrieve the woman he lost just as they married. The story that is the most famous is the Virgil telling and so I will use that as reference for this blog.
Oh gods, it's wrapping against my foot!!!
Orpheus was the rock star of his time, he was raised by the Muses (Calliope being his mother) and was a son of Apollo. He was also a member of the Argonauts and was able to prevent the crew from getting killed by the deadly seducers known as the Sirens by playing his lyre louder and more beautifully than their enticing singing. Eventually, Orpheus found himself in love with this oak nymph by the name Eurydice. On their wedding day, Orpheus played sweet music as his newly wedded wife danced in the meadow, but there was danger. A horny satyr, a nymph's worst nightmare, had it lustful sights on Eurydice. As she tried to flee the goat man, a viper hiding in the long grass (see you never run into the long grass!) a viper bite her on the heel and she died instantly. Needless to say Orpheus didn't take this news well.
You know I think I want to get a better pic with more gravitas
From the day she died, Orpheus mourned her loss by wandering the world and playing songs so sad that everything cried: gods, nymphs, animals, mortals, and even rocks! So moved were the gods that they told him that he should go to the Underworld and convince Hades in letting him take his wife back to the land of the living. This can be easier said than done, the Underworld isn't the most hospitable places in Greek Mythology, but Orpheus was desperate to get his wife back because he would do anything for love (even that).
But if your love was this wouldn't you do the same?
Shouldn't this be the other way in terms of size?
His first challenge in his journey to the Underworld was finding it's entrance, which was covered by a huge boulder. Orpheus took out his lyre and played it so beautifully that the rocks themselves moved to reveal the entrance of Hades, but that would be the least of his troubles when he entered the gates of hell, he had to deal with the guard dog. It was the three headed, dragon tailed hellhound Cerberus that guarded the gates to Hades, not allowing the living in (except Heracles, Theseus, and Orpheus) and not letting the shades (the dead) out. His quest of love overcame his fear of the beast as he began to play a soothing melody that lulled the three head guard dog to sleep. He then was able to get Charon to take him the palace with his lyre playing. As he was being led through the River Styx he played his lyre during the ride. As he passed through the hellhole that is Tartarus and his music soothed the souls of the damned and even made the Kindly Old Ones cry tears of blood. When he left and his music died a way, their torture continued, but Orpheus had reached his destination, the palace of Hades.
And so Orpheus began the proud rockers tradition of making women reveal their breasts
There he stood on his onyx throne, staring at the eyes of our hero with a stoic and unmoved expression on his face. Then Orpheus began to play the most mournful and depressing song from the strings of that beautifully crafted lyre of his. Persephone, wife of Hades, was weeping as were all things in Hades palace. When Orpheus saw a single tear streak against the cheek of the lord of the Underworld he knew his victory was at hand and asked the King to allow him to take his dear Eurydice back to the realm of the living. Even after being moved by his sorrowful playing, it still took Persephone's urging to allow it, but there was a catch.
I'm going to do it! I totally am going to do it!
The deal was set, Orpheus could bring Eurydice back to the realm of the living, but there was a catch, until he actually left the Underworld's gates he could not look back to see if it was really Eurydice. If he did this she would be lost from him forever and no smooth lyre playing would change Hades' mind. Orpheus, eager to be with his wife, agreed to his terms and began his journey out of the Underworld. Each step was torturous for Orpheus as he made his way back, had Hades lied to him? Was it really Eurydice behind him, or was it a trick of the king? For what of must felt like years of backtracking he could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but his resolve was weakening. Then only 100 ft away from getting his wife back...
He turned back.
Yes just as he was about to pull the heist of the century, his emotions and paranoia took hold and doomed him to failure. He saw the terrified expression of his wife's face as she disappeared into the Stygian abyss. He left the Underworld alive, but broken hearted by the fact that he had lost his wife twice and he would never see her until he died.
And so the genre of Emo music was created
Orpheus would from then on wander the lands of Greece, singing and playing mournful songs until the day he died. He disowned the gods, save for one Apollo, and vowed never to love another woman as long as he lived. He kept this up for awhile, but finally his life came to a violent end in the wild hills of Thrace.
Beat up to death by crazed hot chicks, not that bad of a way to go if you ask me
Wild women who were followers of Dionysus saw the pitiful sight of a man with the lyre and ordered him to play some music. When he only played the sorrowful tunes of a broken heart, the crazed and drunken women threw rocks and sticks at him, but so moving was his music that the objects refused to hit him. Enraged, the women jumped after him and tore him to pieces in one huge violent orgy.
Yeah mom you will not believe what happened last night (and what's with the two turtles on the lower right corner?)His head and lyre, still singing mournful songs, floated down the swift Hebrus to the Mediterranean shore. There, the winds and waves carried them on to the Lesbos shore, where the inhabitants buried his head and a shrine was built in his honour near Antissa; there his oracle prophesied, until it was silenced by Apollo The lyre was carried to heaven by the Muses, and was placed among the stars. The Muses also gathered up the fragments of his body and buried them at Leibethra below Mount Olympus, where the nightingales sang over his grave. After the river Sys flooded Leibethra, the Macedonians took his bones to Dion. His soul returned to the underworld, where he was re-united at last with his beloved Eurydice. I guess third time is the charm. Now this whole journey through the Underworld reminded me of something, I haven't talked about the Abduction of Persephone!