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


Mount Parnassus is named after Parnassos, the son of the nymph Kleodora and the man Kleopompus. A city, of which Parnassos was leader, was flooded by torrential rains. The citizens ran from the flood, following wolves’ howling, up the mountain slope. There the survivors built another city, and called it Lykoreia, which in Greek means ‘the howling of the wolves’.

English: Mount Parnassus, Greece.

Mount Parnassus, Greece

While Orpheus was living with his mother and his eight beautiful aunts on Parnassus, he met Apollo who was courting the laughing muse Thalia. Apollo became fond of Orpheus and gave him a little golden lyre, and taught him to play it. Orpheus’s mother taught him to make verses for singing. As the Oracle of Delphi was sacred to the god Apollo, so did the mountain itself become associated with Apollo.

According to some traditions, Parnassus was the site of the fountain Castalia and the home of the Muses; according to other traditions, that honour fell to Mount Helicon, another mountain in the same range. As the home of the Muses, Parnassus became known as the home of poetry, music, and learning.

Parnassus was also the home of Pegasus, the winged horse of Bellerophon.