Pandora’s stories: Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus (right) and Eurydice with Hermes, Naples Museum

Orpheus (right) and Eurydice with Hermes, Naples Museum

One day I must tell you about Hades, though the thought makes me shudder, but first let me tell you of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Orpheus was son of the Muse Calliope, and became the greatest of musicians. His music could charm animals and even trees and rocks. His young wife Eurydice died prematurely after being bitten by a viper. Orpheus was so distraught and played such mournful music that he was advised to travel to the underworld and ask Hades to let Eurydice return. Hades agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and never look back until they both had reached the upper world. Orpheus set off with Eurydice following, but in his anxiety as soon as he reached the upper world he turned to look at her before she had emerged, and she vanished again into the underworld.

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