Orpheus and Eurydice. A lovestory that inspired a famous opera

Orpheus finds Eurydice in The Underworld.

Originally this would have been sung by a "castrato".

A love story of Ancient Greece.

Greek mythology is a collection of tales of gods and demigods that form one of the great background curtains of western civilisation. Whether it is the story of Oedipus, and his unfortunate love for his mother, which has given millions of dollars to generations of psychiatric theorists ever since, or the tales of Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece, the exploits of the ancient Greeks have provided entertainment, and philosophical education to the nations ever since.

Of all the many tales of heroics, and frustrated love, that have come down to us, the one that sticks in my mind most, for the pure tragedy, that it relates, is the story of Orpheus, and his love for his dead wife Eurydice.

Orpheus was a famous musician, whose singing, and playing on the lyre, could melt the hearts of the gods. In his earlier life he had been a member of the crew of The Argonaut, the ship that Jason sailed in when he was looking for The Golden Fleece.

As happens so often, when you are on a quest, many perils had to be negotiated. One of them were The Sirens, a group of snake like female monsters, who also had a talent for singing so beautifully, that they lured mariners to their deaths. When Jason and his crew came within earshot of these latter-day Spicegirls, Orpheus sang and played so beautifully, and so loud, that he drowned out the seductive warblings of The Sirens and the sailors escaped.

After a series of adventures, which I am too lazy to tell you about, (look them up for yourself if you must), Orpheus fell in love with, and married, Eurydice. Now whether they had a lovers tiff on the wedding day, or what the problem was, I don’t know.

But when they should have been enjoying “rumpy pumpy” in the nearest ancient Greek Holiday Inn, she decided to go for a walk in the fields. She lay down in a pit of vipers and was stung to death. Her body was found by her husband. Of course, as he was Ancient Greece’s premier crooner, Orpheus started singing songs of great lamentation. He was pleading with the gods for one more chance to be reunited with his great love. He didn’t want to die himself; just to have Eurydice back.

Of course, all the hosts of Heaven were so moved by the beautiful music that they advised the grieving lover to go to The Underworld, and see if he could charm the gods of Hades into releasing his beloved spouse.

This Orpheus proceeded to do. The gods of the underworld were so charmed by his singing, that they released Eurydice. It may be that they very rarely heard any sounds save for the shrieking of the dead, so even if he sounded like a constipated hen, they would still be impressed. But whatever the case, they let his wife go. There was a stipulation however. On no circumstances was he to turn to look at his wife until they were both back above ground. If he did that she would be taken back from him forever.

The behaviour of Eurydice, on the way back to the sunlight, gives hints of possible troubles in the marriage, reserved for the future. It seems that she was a bit of a nag. All that Orpheus could hear as he led this woman out of Hell, to a chance of renewed wedded bliss in the land above was,

“Orpheus do you still love me? Why don’t you turn and look at me?”

This, or a variant of it, was the chorus that accompanied our hero all the way to the surface. It did not occur to him that he could just shout at her to shut up, or that he ought to enlighten her as to the real reason for his seeming coldness.

Anyway, when he did emerge into the light he turned to glance back to see if she was alright. He had forgotten that they both had to be out before he looked at her.

Immediately the spirits emerged from the shadows, to usher Eurydice back down out of his sight forever.

A very sad story, indeed. But in the version told in the famous opera, “Orpheus and Eurydice” by Christoph Willibald Gluck, there is a happy ending. The goddess Amore, moved by the even more mournful singing, brings his wife back to life again, and Orpheus and Eurydice live happily ever after. It seems that the eighteenth century Parisian audience did not have the stomach for the original tragic ending. It didn’t stop them cutting each other’s heads off a few years later, mind you. But that is a story for another day.

I hope you enjoyed the story of Orpheus, and his love for the, slightly scatty, Eurydice. Who in their right mind would lie down in a pit of vipers on their wedding day? Somebody is not telling us something.

The main reason why I bothered with any of the above, was to tempt you to listen to the really gorgeous aria, "Che farò senza Euridice?” from the opera. I have been listening to it since I was a child, and I love it. I hope you will too.


The truth is in here

Source

Some hidden history revealed

There is a continuing fascination with the Illuminati and their all pervasive influence on world affairs.

There was an organisation called the Illuminati, which was founded in Bavaria in the eighteenth century. This is not the sinister organisation that aims to gain ruler ship over the world.

Only very few people can reveal the true facts about this sinister “society above society”. I am one of those with full knowledge. No doubt you are wondering how deep my insight goes.

To find out read my latest e-book The Zombie, the Cat and Barack Obama. It tells the story of the brilliant pianist, but loathsome zombie, Julian Faversham and his attempted assassination of Barack Obama.

It contains information on the history and power of the Illuminati that is not detailed anywhere else.

There is also some fascinating, but very embarrassing, information about the ancestry of Barack Obama.

Osama bin Laden was not killed in the way we have been told either. Read the true account of his demise here.

There is a royal connection here also, (or at least a Buckingham Palace connection).

Available on Amazon.

United States.

http://goo.gl/ckqfk

United Kingdom (Amazon UK)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B009CYBTC8/ref=tag_dpp_yt_edpp_rt#tags

You can also buy it from many other online retailers. Priced at less than the cost of a packet of cigarettes.

More by this Author


Comments 22 comments

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Christopher, excellent entrapment to get me to listen to an awesome operatic piece of brilliant talent. I never would have any knowledge of this had it not been a required class in my college curriculum, where I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it. "castrato" made me laugh so when I voted this up I had to hit funny as well. You laid out an easy read and enough "intro" to make this an enjoyable, out of the ordinary, read.

I personally like the ending of Eurydice being sucked back to hell, nobody likes a nag, LOL

Peace, dust


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

I'm glad you liked that one Dusty. I'm not really sure if Eurydice was a nag, but she certainly showed the potential to become one. I reckon Orpheus had a lucky escape.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, not sure where my comment just went! so I'll start again! lol this was great! I love the humour, and you always manage to make me giggle! it brings the story right up to date, maybe we are always the same whatever year we live in! lol and the music was wonderful, cheers nell


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks Nell. I'm pleased I made you laugh. I'm sure you have a quite charming girlish giggle. You must brighten up the planet wherever you go.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

You are the exceptional writer, christopher, to bring the love of opera to the masses. This story was charming, entertaining and fun to read. What better way to painlessly absorb culture! Bravo!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks for your kind words drbj. I always hark back to the days when classical music was really a popular art form. When Handel premiered a new opera, London used to be completely jammed up with the crowds trying to get in. People in the streets used to sing the fashionable arias. You only get that in Italy nowadays.

I can imagine that the aria I have posted here was one of the ones that they used to sing in the markets and alleyways of old Paris, because it has such a catchy tune.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

It's so awful when just a little bit more patience and things could have been. . . .better.

Thank GOTT for the lack of the Castrato - I wonder, did I learn about that from you? I'm thinking that I did - but in any case the word sort of says it all, but the horror of the reality of it was fairly recent for me.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks Wesman for reading.

I know it seems horible to us, but in the day when it was fashionable, male singers were queuing up to have their bits removed. The fame and the fortune were too much to resist. Can you imagine if they did that on X Factor nowadays?


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Chris, ok you derailed me by putting the spice girls in the story, but i'll carry on anyway. I loved this historical romp, if only our history lessons at school had been as entertaining. It does sound a bit like an episode of the bold and the beautiful, where Ridge would make a cracking Orpheus and Brook would be almost as empty headed as Eurydice. This was a throughly entertaining hub, cheers mate.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

OH MY!!!! Well, I certainly can not complain if they were volunteering for it!!! Oh no! I'd surely say, "go right ahead then, fella, and best of luck to you!"


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Chris my comment disappeared too, so perhaps the gods have been offended by your hilarious take on yet another greek tragedy. I'm not sure if you get The Bold And The Beautiful in the UK, but Ridge would would make a great Orpheus and Brook would be almost as empty-headed as Eurydice. If my history lessons had been as entertaining, I may have become a grate skoller, but alas they weren't. You did a great job of fitting the Spice Girls into the story, thus derailing my usual ability to do the same in my comments. (well almost) I can't warm to classical music, apart from the top two percent, it's sort of background music to my untrained lugholes. We play soccer against a greek team who specialise in tragedies. Their opponents didn't turn up two weeks ago, so we offered to step in and give them a friendly game. They were 10-0 up when one of their players went ballistic over a hand ball. Then one of their other players got sent off for persistent arguing and was banned for two weeks. The real tragedy was that they only won 18-2. It appears that Eurydice has passed her genes on down the line. I think I might have one or two floating about. This was a throughly entertaining well written funny gem. Cheers mate


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi there Keith.

I think there is a bit of Eurydice's genes in all of us.

Mind you those Greeks must be able to play football, either that, or your lot are really crap.

Thanks for dropping by.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

We'd already played two games and our two best players were out. We weren't playing for sheep stations either, as the Aussies would say. We were just getting close to them, losing 1-2 and 5-6 in the last two cup finals, when they signed two new players who are crash hot. We don't really care what the score is, as long as the beer is cold. We're the second best team down there and ten consecutive runners up trophies tends to prove the point. I'm just lucky to be on the pitch at 59. In fact I am on the pitch quite often, and It takes an eternity to get back up off it. :) Cheers mate


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

I hope your team continues to do well, and bring home the silver. You must be a fit man Keith, to play football at 59.

Good on you.


lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

What a wonderfully written hub by my favorite history teacher!! You make learning so much fun and everything you write about is so interesting. The humor makes one want to keep reading and reading. You have excellent taste in music and I found your selection to be a real treat. Thank you so much. I absolutely adore you.

May I ask who did the paintings in the video? I especially liked the one of Orpheus standing by the rather large tree with a bare chest and left arm across his eyes. It really moved me.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks Lisa for those cheering words.

If my head gets any bigger,I wont be able to leave the room by the door.I will have to keep the fire brigade on speed dial to rescue me.

I dont know for certain who did all the paintings, but if you google images of Orpheus and Eurydice, most of them are there. I especially felt that the one you mentioned really brought out the sadness of his situation.


lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

I looked up the painting and I believe Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret is the artist.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks for that Lisa. It certainly is a very good picture.


lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

I think you should teach history in the schools. If I had a teacher such as you, I would not have quit in the 10th grade and would have gone onto college. You inspire me to learn, even now, in my old age.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks Lisa.

I feel, that when we learn about people in history, we should remember that even the most famous of them were not that different from us really.

I only give tasters, but if they inspire others to look into things for themselves that's good.


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Excellent article christopheranton. Gluck just doesn't get enough publicity these days....

Take care

John


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks John.

I agree with you about Gluck, and he wrote such brilliant music as well.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working