Orpheus and Eurydice


‘He could have been the happiest man on the earth, but it was not to be, for his marriage with the beautiful nymph Eurydice was not to last long. They were still only newly-weds when she, while walking through the meadows, stepped on a snake that bit her heel and tore away her young life. Orpheus dared travelling to the underworld and approach the throne of Hades. He accompanied his wistful song with string music. Then the shades cried, Tantalus forgot to bow to the water, Sisyphus sat listening on the stone that would not role away any more and even the Erinyes were moved to tears. Eurydice was called and returned to her husband; he was allowed to carry her to the world above as long he would not look at her before they had left the land of the shades. When they had come close to the exit, Orpheus – afraid that she might not make it to the exit, and filled with a desire to see her – looked behind him and saw her disappear; when he tried to grasp her, he reached out into air. A barely audible farewell reached his ears. When he tried to follow her, the hound Cerberus forbade him to pass. Seven days and seven nights he sat on the riverbank of the Styx before finally returning to earth.’

– Hoffmann. E. 1971. Goden- en Heldensagen [Sagas of Gods and Heroes] Groningen, The Netherlands: Wolters-Noordhoff (1977) p. 24-25

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