Orpheus was the son of Apollo, the Greek god of music and poetry. Eurydice was a beautiful nymph. Their tragic love story would tell the tale of losing someone you love and having the opportunity to get them back if you can follow one simple rule.
Orpheus Plays the Lyre
Apollo is the Greek god of music and poetry, and he is most famously known for playing the lyre, a musical instrument made of strings, and a tortoise shell. Apollo gave his son a lyre and taught him how to play.
Orpheus quickly learned how to play and could play more beautifully than his father Apollo. Wherever Orpheus would play his lyre, objects would come to life, and beings would become entranced by the music. Orpheus had a true talent for playing music.
Orpheus Falls in Love with Eurydice
One day, Orpheus was in the woods playing the lyre that his father had given him when he noticed a beautiful wood nymph named Eurydice. Eurydice had heard Orpheus playing the lyre, and she was drawn to the beautiful music. Likewise, Orpheus was drawn to the beauty of Eurydice. It was love at first sight for them.
Orpheus and Eurydice Get Married
Orpheus and Eurydice were madly in love and spending all their time together, so they got married. They had a beautiful ceremony with a festive celebration afterward. Hymenaios, the god of marriage who blessed their matrimony, warned Orpheus and Eurydice that the harmony of their marriage would not last.
However, Orpheus and Eurydice were in love, and nothing seemed to be less than perfect in their relationship.
A Fatal Snakebite
Eurydice was a beautiful nymph, and her beauty was apparent to more than just Orpheus. A shepherd named Aristaeus had noticed Eurydice’s beauty and wanted her for himself, so he hid in the bushes and waited for her. He planned to kill Orpheus and take Eurydice as his own.
As Eurydice and Orpheus neared, Aristaeus jumped out but was unable to kill Orpheus. Instead, Orpheus grabbed Eurydice, and they began running through the woods away from Aristaeus. As they ran, Aristaeus chased them. Orpheus held Eurydice’s hand as they ran through the woods until he felt her fall and slip out of her hands.
When he turned around, Orpheus saw Eurydice had stepped on a venomous snake that had bitten her. She was dying, and Orpheus was unable to save her. Eurydice died in the woods from a venomous snakebite and descended to the underworld.
Orpheus Goes to the Underworld
Orpheus was not the same person he was after Eurydice died. He no longer enjoyed playing the lyre, and he no longer enjoyed life. Orpheus wanted Eurydice back, and he did the only thing he knew: he asked his father for help.
Orpheus asked Apollo to help him go into the underworld and retrieve his wife. Apollo went to Hades, the god of the underworld, and told him that Orpheus wanted to visit him to request the return of his wife, Eurydice.
With his lyre in hand, Orpheus made his way into the underworld and found Hades. Orpheus played his lyre and sang to Hades and those in the underworld to hear. Everyone in the underworld was moved by the beautiful song that Orpheus played for his wife.
Hades agreed to let Orpheus take his wife to the upper world under one condition: Orpheus had to lead Eurydice out of the underworld and could not look back at her for any reason.
Hades told Orpheus that he could look at Eurydice when she finally entered the light of the upper world, but he could not look at her while she was in the dark in the underworld. Hades warned that if Orpheus turned and looked at Eurydice while she was still in the dark, she would be condemned to the underworld forever.
Orpheus was overjoyed that his plan had worked, and he began leading Eurydice out of the underworld. As they were nearing the upper world, Orpheus could hear the land of the living above him and could not contain his excitement.
Orpheus finally entered the light in the upperworld and turned around to embrace his wife, but she had not emerged from the underworld. She was still in the dark when Orpheus turned around to hug her. At that moment, Eurydice was condemned to the underworld forever.