PhotobucketEurydice - wife of Orpheus, the greatest musician in all of Athens -died from the bite of a snake. Orpheus found solace in his lyre, wringing from the instrument a melody so beautiful the whole world stilled to listen. Even the guardians at the gates of the underworld were lulled into a trance by the sweet music.
Orpheus walked passed the guardians, descending the spiral staircase into the bowels of the earth, his eyes stinging from the sulfurous smoke. Ghosts came thronging to the sound of his lyre, and the furies themselves were mesmerized. A vulture paused above the giant body of Tityus, no longer pecking at his liver. Sisyphus stopped to sit upon the rock he was condemned to push. Orpheus found Hades and his wife, Persephone, by the river Styxx. Hades was not amused.

Photobucket "We don't get many visitors," said the Lord of the Dead. His wife, Persephone - goddess of spring who spent half the year with her husband in Hell - was enchanted by the beautiful music. It reminded her of herself. She begged Hades to give the musician a chance to speak.
Orpheus said nothing, for his eyes had found Eurydice.

Photobucket Persophone gathered his meaning and begged her husband to allow the two mortals to return to the surface. Hades had but one weakness. He was easily bored.

"One condition, Orpheus," he said. "Don't look back."
Orpheus and Eurydice ascended the great spiral staircase, their spirits lifting with each step. The light of living earth loomed in front of them. Eurydice squeezed Orpheus' hand. He looked back.

Photobucket Her eyes registered the moment immediately, though it took a few moments for her body to be vaporized. Her sweet voice disappeared last. Orpheus stood alone on the surface of the world.

Photobucket His lyre was less solace now, though the music was no less beautiful. He wanted only to be left alone in a barren rocky place, but his music lifted flowers from the craggy rocks. Trees bloomed. The hearts of the wild beasts were tamed. Fierce tigers lay down with cattle, wolves with sheep, eagles with trembling doves.

Photobucket There were others enchanted by the sensuous music as well. Women of every variety flocked to Orpheus. He wanted nothing to do with any of them. He wanted only to treasure the memory of his lost Eurydice. Finally Orpheus was set upon by a pack of wild women who tore him limb from limb, tossing his head into a nearby stream.

Photobucket His head bobbed out to sea, his cold tongue in his still gapping mouth calling out: "Eurydice! My poor Eurydice."