Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus was a musician whose songs could charm even the most wild of animals. Many women loved him but he loved only Eurydice. Eurydice was a beautiful maiden who was also loved by many but she and Orpheus loved only each other. On their wedding day, Eurydice was walking in a meadow when a man came and tried to force her to marry him. She ran away from him and accidentally stepped on a poisonous snake, which bit her. The man who had been chasing her ran away when she fell down dead. Orpheus waited and waited for his bride, but she never came.

Finally, he went to look for her and found her body. He was so much in love with her that he vowed to go the underworld if necessary to get her back. He took his lyre and went to the river Styx, where Charon ferried the dead souls across to the land of the dead. Charon refused to ferry Orpheus across at first, but when Orpheus began to play his beautiful music he willingly rowed him to the grim kingdom of the dead. When he got to the gates of the Underworld he still had to get past Cerberus. He started to play another song and charmed Cerberus to sleep. He got past the gates and saw all the people there. He played his beautiful music and charmed even the Furies, who paused in their task of punishing mortals who had lead horrible lives.

Orpheus came at last to the thrones of Persephone and Hades. He asked for Eurydice but they refused, so he began to play and sing again. His music was so wonderful that it brought tears to even Hades' eyes.

"Please Hades, let him have Eurydice," Persephone begged.

Hades agreed and told Orpheus, "You may have your Eurydice, but you must not turn back to look at her until you are both out of the underworld."

Orpheus promised to do so and waited while Eurydice was called. He started to walk to the upperworld, wondering all the while whether Eurydice was really behind him. Finally, when he was almost out of the underworld, he turned around, unable to wait any longer. Eurydice was there after all!

"Orpheus, why did you turn around? If we had been a little farther, I would have been yours again!" she said sadly and disappeared forever.

After this, Orpheus continued to play his music, but he never loved again. One day, he was torn to pieces by the Bacchantes, followers of Dionysus and joined his Eurydice at last in death.