Orpheus and Eurydice

Hello All,

My mind today is preoccupied, and what is captivating it has it’s roots in Greek Mythology.

Those who are close to me know that my geek-dom spans much further than superheroes and comic books. I find so much beauty in the myths of the the ancient world. Even the most gruesome of the myths have elements in them that are glorious, and meaningful. The represent anguish and longing and love and death. I find much inspiration within them. I know I have even compared Green Lantern and myself to the war hero Odysseus and his wife Penelope, who waited for 20 years for he husband to return to her after the Trojan War.

The myth on my mind today, however, is that of Orpheus and Eurydice. Now, what Orpheus is most famous for is his music. I believe it was Pindar who defined him as a fore-father of music. Apollo gave him a lyre at a young age, and it was his mother who taught him to sing. He was brilliant musician, and supposedly it was so beautiful it could influence not only mythical creatures, but the gods themselves.

The story I’m thinking of starts when Orpheus falls in love. Eurydice was a wood nymph, and a daughter of Apollo. Orpheus fell in love immediately. He marries her, and sings her beautiful songs to proclaim his love for her. However, Eurydice, who is a wild spirit anyway, is eventually drawn back to the wood. There she was pursued by an unruly satyr. Eurydice loved her husband, and resisted the satyr’s advances. He pursued her, and drove her to step upon a snake. The snake killed her almost instantly with his poisonous grip.

When Orpheus found her, the songs he played was so sorrowful that the people of the village and the nymphs of the forest could barely stand it. They told him to go to the Underworld and beg Hades to let him bring Eurydice back to the land of the living. He did not waste any time. Using his music, he charmed his way straight to the god of the Underworld. His beautifully haunting music moved the hearts of Hades and  Persephone his wife, and the god made a bargain with Orpheus. He could leave the underworld, and take the shade of Eurydice with him–on one condition. Orpheus could not look back and see if she was following while he was leading her out.

Orpheus started the trek back to the surface. However, he didn’t trust the god, and was afraid that the shade of his wife was not following him. The spirit could make no noise to let him know that she was there, yet she had followed him faithfully from the depths. When Orpheus reached the opening back into the world on the living, he couldn’t resist anymore. Forgetting that they both had to reach the surface, he looked on the face of his beloved wife long enough for her to swept back into the underworld.

Image

Orpheus and Eurydice (1806) by Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein

To mythology, Orpheus is important because he is one of the few heroes who actually ventured into the underworld and made it out alive. he joins the ranks of such great heroes such as Hercules, Odysseus, Aeneas, and Theseus. However, this myth reminds me of a conversation Green Lantern and I had before we were even married.

This is a testament to how well my husband actually knows me, and has for a long time. He was speaking to me one day about us and said, without any prompting or without me telling the myth, he told me this: that he would be an Orpheus for me and come and rescue me from the underworld. Not only that, but he continued by saying that, he would never look back, though he questioned if he could do it, because he loved me that much. I was shocked. Could it be that someone out there actually knew and loved the myths that I had spent years studying and memorizing to extremes? Was there a person out there who could actually understand this mildly crazy side of me that made me so different from other people my age?

Do you want to know how to win the heart of a nerdy girl? Speak to her in her language. I had already accepted Green Lantern’s proposal; I knew that we would be together for as long as we lived. But this, probably the sweetest and most thoughtful compliment ever paid to me, made me fall in love all over again. This memory came to this morning as I got out of bed, and made me smile. It was wonderful timing; with Green Lantern gone, it is the sweet little memories that keep me going until I see him again.

BG

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