Wednesday, October 20, 2010
It's Alphabe-Thursday - E is for Eurydice
The Rogue Speaks:
Well, actually, Orpheus and Eurydice. In Greek myth, Orpheus was the son of Calliope and Apollo(or Oeagrus, depending on who you talk to). He was revered as the most gifted musician and poet in all of Greek mythology. His music had the ability to charm not only the wild fauna, but the flora as well, and he was incredibly handsome to boot!
Orpheus had hung out with Jason and the Argonauts (not the rock group!) and had sailed on the Argo. When the ship had to pass the island where the famous Sirens were lying around on the rocks waiting for sailors to be lured to their deaths by their singing, Orpheus and his lyre prevented the crew from being overcome by the Siren's songs.
Eurydice was an exceptionally beautiful and well endowed young woman whose virtue was known far and wide! She was every man's ideal, and had had many suitors begging for her hand. She only had eyes for Orpheus, however. Frankly, everyone, and every thing only had eyes for Orpheus! That was the power his music had!
Orpheus fell deeply in love with Eurydice, much to the consternation of all those other women who were craving his affection. Several of them didn't mind being bridesmaids when the two lovers got married, though! After the wedding, Eurydice and the bridesmaids went for a stroll in a nearby meadow, where she was bitten by a snake. She died.
Poor Orpheus! He didn't even have a chance to consummate the union! Bummer! There is another version of this story in which the two had some time together before the viper incident, but I think this version is way more dramatic!
Orpheus was so grief-stricken that all he could do was sit around composing sad songs all day long. One day he decided he just couldn't take it any more, and he went to the god Hades, ruler of the underworld, and begged him to give Eurydice back to him. Orpheus could be pretty persuasive with his music, so Hades agreed he could have Eurydice back on one condition. Orpheus could lead Eurydice out of the underworld and back into the upperworld, but at no time could he look back to be sure she was still following him. Things were going along very nicely, with Orpheus in the lead and Eurydice following, and they had almost made it home free when Orpheus decided to take one quick peek to be sure his wife was still behind him. Bad mistake!! Eurydice disappeared back into the underworld, and that was all she wrote!
Orpheus became a total wreck at the second loss of his wife. No one could console him, even though all the women tried their best to get him to come around so one of them could be his number two wife. They all failed miserably!
One day, while Orpheus was sitting under a tree, singing a very sad song about the loss of his one true love, a group of Ciconian Maenads, women who followed Dionysus, came along. It is my impression that they didn't care too much for men, because they attacked him and torn him limb from limb. They threw his head in the river, where it floated down, still singing, and ended up on the isle of Lesbos. The Muses found it and buried it on the island. Then they collected all the other body parts and buried them at Mount Olympus.
It is said that the nightingales at Mount Olympus sing more beautifully there than any other place on earth. Since I have never heard a nightingale, I can't tell you if it is true or not. If you happen to know, will you tell me? Thanks.
p.s. The music you hear is called "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from the opera, "Orpheus and Eurydice" by Christoph Willibald Gluck. If you care to stick around and hear the next piece, it is from the soundtrack of the movie "Black Orpheus," a 1959 Academy Award winner for "best foreign-language film." It was directed by Marcel Camus, and filmed in Brazil.