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Orpheus and Orphism

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Claesson Welsh

Chapter 16Orpheus and Orphism Mystery religions in roman times Orpheus and EurydiceOrpheus was the son of Calliope oldest and most beautiful of the nine muses Before he could walk Opheus could play the lyre and had a voice that was so enchanting that even the mightiest river would stop to listen He fell in love with a nymph named Eurydice and before long the two were married They lived happily for a while but their happiness was not to last One day as Eurydice was walking near a river she accidentally stepped on a snake that was sunning itself on the bank The snake bit her and Eurydice died Orpheus was heartbroken Not wanting to live without his beloved Eurydice Orpheus decided to go down into the underworld to bring her back With his songs he entranced all of the monsters and guardians of the underworld and was soon in the presence of Hades and Persephone At first they would not consider Orpheus pleas to allow Eurydice back into the land of the living but Orheus sang of his saddness to them and their resolve melted They agreed to allow Orpheus to bring Eurydice back with him but he could not look at her until they were out of the underworld Orpheus readily agreed to this and began his descent At first he could hear his beloveds footfalls behind him but as his journey progressed they became fainter and fainter When he was only a few meters from the exit he could no longer hear Eurydice following him Ignoring the warnings and fearing a trick by the gods he looked back to see if Eurydice was still behind him Eurydices spirit gave a small shriek and dissapeared back into the land of the dead In anguish Orpheus tried to reenter the underworld but it was closed to him He spent the rest of his days scorning women not willing to love another so to stay true to the memory of Eurydice He wandered the earth before being torn appart by the women of Thracewho were angry at him for spurning their love and companionshipLife of Orpheus Religious poet and musicianHe was considered the founder of a religion a prophet who committed to writing holy words that provided a bible for dogma ritual and behavior His home was in Thrace his mother was one of the Muses usually said to be Calliope and his father was either Oeagrus a river god or ApolloHe wooed and won Eurydice a Dryad by the charm of his musicWhen she died he went to Hades to fetch her but failedOrpheus had a son or a pupil Musaeus who assumed many of the characteristics of Orpheus himselfOrpheus is said to have been struck down by the thunderbolt of Zeus because he taught things unknown beforehe also is said to have died through a conspiracy of his countrymen who would not accept his teachings The common tradition makes the women of Thrace responsible for his death but the reasons for their hostility varySometimes the women are followers of Dionysus expressly directed against Orpheus by their god for Dionysus in his attempts to convert Thrace to his religion met the opposition of Orpheus a devoted follower of ApolloAccording to some the fragments of
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