5 Reasons Why The Story Of Orpheus And Eurydice Is So Heartbreaking

5 Reasons Why The Story Of Orpheus And Eurydice Is So Heartbreaking

Published On: July 20, 2021Last Updated: February 29, 20244 min readBy

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If there is one thing the Ancient Greeks do well, it’s a tragedy. It is after all a Greek word and unfortunately, it was often the way that many ancient love stories ended. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice was no exception.

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Who Was Orpheus

To learn about the story of Orpheus and Eurydice you must first understand the main character. Orpheus was one of the many Greek heroes. Son of the Greek god Apollo, the god of music and poetry, it came as no surprise that he was musically gifted. But to say he was musically gifted was an understatement. Orpheus was a virtuoso.

Given a golden lyre by his father, everyone in the Mediterranean knew his name, or at the very least his sound. A melody so sweet it could charm even the wildest of beasts (literally). He was sweet, modest and loving and it took no time at all before he had a love story of his own.

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Who Was Eurydice

Eurydice was a beautiful wood nymph and like everyone who heard Orpheus play, she was immediately enamoured by him. It all started one day in the woods, when Orpheus had sat down to play, not realising the woman of his dreams was about to stumble across him. It was love at first sight and the two began a whirlwind romance, spending every waking moment together. Their love was pure and their bond unbreakable and this is why the story of Orpheus and Eurydice is so heartbreaking.

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5 Reasons Why The Story of Orpheus And Eurydice Is So Heartbreaking

1. It Was Doomed From The Beginning

If there is no love, there can be no tragedy, and there is no place with a greater abundance of love than at a wedding. So, this is where the story of Orpheus and Eurydice really begins. It all started off smoothly. There was singing and dancing and the usual indulgences that go with such festivities. There was no inkling of bad omens, that is until Hymen arrived.

Hymen was the god of marriage and bridal hymns. He failed to bless the union and the bridal torch he carried threw out a suffocatingly thick black smoke. Hymen foreshadowed a grim future and true to these omens, marital bliss was short-lived for Orpheus and Eurydice.

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2. Her Beauty Incited Deadly Jealousy

You already know that Eurydice was beautiful. And so did everyone else. A particularly nasty one of these observers was Aristaeus. Being the horrible Greek god that he was, he schemed up an evil plan to make her his own. Hiding in the bushes one day he waited in ambush for Eurydice to walk past not caring if he had to kill Orpheus in order to have her. This would lead to the third reason why the story of Orpheus and Eurydice is so tragic.

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3. Eurydice Was Bitten And Killed By A Venomous Snake

While fleeing Aristaeus, in a mad panic Eurydice stood on a venomous snake. Startled, the adder sunk its fangs into her ankle. Orpheus, hearing her cries, found her moments before her death. Cradling her in his arms he sang to her for the last time.

4. Orpheus Had To Go To Into The Treacherous Underworld

After the death of his wife, Orpheus was a shadow of the man he once was. Stricken with grief he could not even bear to play his beloved lyre. He decided that he must go into the underworld to try and retrieve his wife. With the help of his father Apollo, he was able to enter the realm of Hades, using his lyre to lullaby the Cerberus (the multi-headed hound that guarded the gates to hell) to sleep.

When he met with Hades he played the most beautiful song of his life. So beautiful that Hades agreed to give him back his wife. But only on one condition. Eurydice could follow him out, but Orpheus would not be able to look back at her, under any circumstances. Not until they were both out of the darkness of the underworld.

5. He Was Almost Able To Save Her

By now you know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of heartache. But the worst is yet to come. Together Orpheus and Eurydice began their long walk out of hell, made all the longer for Orpheus because he could not look at his wife. But he was reassured by the sound of her voice. After some time, Orpheus finally saw the light and not long after that he felt the warmth of the sun on his skin. They were out! In his eagerness, he spun around to see his lovely Eurydice only to find that she was still covered in shadow, not yet having reached the realm of the living. It was then that he lost her forever.

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