|Orpheus with animals in a landscape by Aelbert Cuyp, c.1640.|
Orpheus is the mythic Greek Musician who could charm the wild animals and even the trees and stone with his beautiful music. Eurydice was the woman he loved and would have married if it weren't for a pesky little snake biting her ankle and killing her on the very day of their wedding.
|Orphee et Euridice by Louis Ducis, 1825.|
|Orpheus and Eurydice by George Frederick Watts.|
Orpheus decided to brave the underworld and beg Hades and his wife Persephone to return Eurydice to the world of the living.
|Orpheus by Franz Von Stuck, 1891.|
|Orpheus in the Underworld by Henryk Hector Siemiradzki, 1880-90.|
As Orpheus pleaded his cause, enhancing his wordswith music,He moved the bloodless spirits to tears. For a momentTántalusCeased to clutche at the fleeting pool, Ixíon’s wheelwas spellbound, the vultures halted their pecking atTítyos’ liver,The Dánaids dropped their urns and Sísyphus sat on hisboulder.The Furies’ hearts were assuaged by the song, and thestory goesthat they wept real tears for the very first time. The kingand queenof the world below forbore to refuse such a movingappeal,and they summoned Eurydice.
Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.39-48
|Orpheus and Eurydice by Michael Putz-Richard, 1868.|
Orpheus was told he could lead her away, on onecondition:to walk in front and never look back until he had leftthe Vale of Avérnus, or else the concession would countfor nothing.
Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.50-52
|Orpheus leading Eurydice from the Underworld by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1861.|
|Orpheus and Eurydice by Edmund Dulac.|
…at once she sank back intothe dark.She stretched out her arms to him, struggled to feel hishands on her own,But all she was able to catch, poor soul, was theyielding air.
Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.57-59
|Orpheus and Eurydice by Charles de Sousy Ricketts, c.1922.|
|Orpheus by Louis Francais, 1863.|