Love Story: Orpheus and Eurydice
Be warned: this story is beautiful but tragic. It begins with Orpheus, the best musician that ever lived. One strum of his lyre, one note sung, and beasts would crawl to him, rocks would shift their moss to move to be closer, trees would tear their roots to be closer to him. Orpheus had been taught to play the lyre by Apollo, and such was his skill on the instrument, together with the sweetness of his singing voice. He had more power than a mortal man ought to for he was the son of the Muse Calliope.
Jason and the Argonauts took him along when they quested after the Golden Fleece, and Orpheus saved them from shipwreck by drowning out the treacherously alluring voices of the Sirens with his own musical styling. He also put the “sleepless dragon” that was guarding the Golden Fleece to sleep and thus Jason managed to get the Fleece.
He lived his life simply and carelessly until the day he met Eurydice. The girl was a wood nymph, she was beautiful and shy. She had been drawn to Orpheus enamored by his voice and such was the spell of beauty in music and appearance that neither could cast their eyes off each other. Something inexplicable tugged the hearts of the two young people and soon they felt dearly in love, unable to spend a single moment apart. After a while, they decided to get married.
Their wedding day dawned bright and clear. The surroundings were filled with laughter and gaiety. Hymen, the god of marriage, is present at the wedding ceremony. He refuses to offer any words of encouragement or even crack a smile. We'd say this is a pretty bad sign for the future of the marriage.
But one day the rustic god Aristaeus saw Eurydice's beauty and desired it, and did not care that she was unwilling and in love with another. She ran from him in terror, without thought to her step, and so it was she stepped on a poisonous snake in her flight. The venom of its bite killed her at once and her spirit went to the Underworld. Orpheus was inconsolable. His grief was bitter, but he did not let it lull him into a trance, he decided to take action.
With his lyre, Orpheus descended into the Underworld. A normal mortal would have perished any number of times, but Orpheus had his lyre and his voice and he charmed Cerberus - the three-headed monster dog of Hades who guarded the Underworld - into letting him pass.
Facing Hades and his Queen Persephone he played for them his sorrow at the loss of his love. Even Hades could not help weeping. They let Orpheus through to Eurydice, but warned him very carefully: Eurydice would follow him into the light of the world and once she entered the sunlight she would be changed from a shade back to a woman. But if Orpheus doubted, if he looked back to see her, she would be lost to him forever.
Orpheus heard and rejoiced. He turned and left the dark hall of Hades and began his ascent back to life. As he walked he rejoiced that his wife would soon be with him again. He listened closely for her footfall behind him, but a shade makes no noise. The closer to the light he got, the more he began to believe that Hades had tricked him to get him out of the Underworld that Eurydice was not behind him. Only feet away from the light Orpheus lost faith and turned around. He saw Eurydice, but only for a moment as her shade was whisked back down among the other dead souls. She was gone.
Orpheus tried again to enter the Underworld and demand her return, but one cannot enter twice the same way - and no other way was open to him. All that was left to him was death.
From then on, the heart-broken musician was wandering disoriented, day after day, night after night, in total despair. He could find no consolation in anything. His misfortune tormented him, forcing him to abstain from contact with any other woman and slowly but surely he found himself shunning their company completely. He found comfort in men as lovers. Maenads, piss because he shun them, in a frenzy that ripped the singer to shreds. Some say he was struck down by Zeus for disclosing mysteries that were meant to be kept sacred. Either way, he was torn apart, and much of him was thrown to the winds. But the Muses mourned the death of their son and prodigy, and saved his head to sing forever.
His soul descended down to Hades where he was finally reunited with his beloved Eurydice in the Elysian Fields, which is the nicest part of the Underworld. He even got a job as Hades’s personal musician. So in the end; Orpheus and Eurydice are together forever in eternal bliss.