ENG – Mythology SummativeStory of Myth : Orpheus is known as the most talented music player of the ancient times. He lived in Thrace, on the northeastern part of Greece. Orpheus’ music playing and singing voice was said to be magical and the myth says that no god or mortal could resist his music. His music drew in many people from a far including a wood nymph named Eurydice. They both instantly fell in love and got married. Soon after their marriage, Eurydice had been bit by a deadly viper and died next to a river. After her death, Orpheus was filled with sadness and grief. He decided to go to the underworld to try and get his wife back. To get into the underworld, Orpheus must cross the River Styx which is the river that all mortals must cross before entering the underworld. The ferryman usually requires a deadly fee for carrying passengers but when Orpheus played his magical lyre, the ferryman Charon took him for free. When he asked Hades if he would return Eurydice to him, he refused. Then, Orpheus played his lyre and sang a song. Orpheus’ voice was so moving that Hades agreed to let Eurydice follow him to the world of the living. However, he had one condition that Orpheus can’t look back at Eurydice while she’s still in the underworld, if he did, it would undo everything and Eurydice would be sent to the underworld forever. As Orpheus was reaching the exit of the underworld, he couldn’t hear the footsteps of his wife behind him, tempted to look to see if she was there. The moment he stepped in the world of the living, he turned his head to hug his wife. Unfortunately, he got only a glimpse of Eurydice before she was once again drawn back into the underworld because when Orpheus turned his head, Eurydice was still in the dark, she hadn’t seen the sun and, as Hades has warned Orpheus, his wife was drowned back to the dark world of the dead. Orpheus is devastated again and roams around Greece playing sad songs. His sadness prevented him contact with any other woman and soon he would avoid them completely. So, a group of angry women, (maenads) furious for his scorn towards them, killed him, cut his body into pieces and threw them and his lyre into a river. It’s said that his severed head and lyre floated to the island of Lesvos where the muses found him and gave Orpheus a proper burial. His soul descended down to Hades where he was finally reunited with his beloved Eurydice. History/Geography : Orpheus was born and raised in Thrace which is a part of Greece that’s bordering Turkey. Many historians portray Thracians as ancient because they lived a simple lifestyle, but Thracians were known to have an advanced culture in poetry and music. This helps better understand for why Orpheus was raised in Thrace since he was known for his musical and poetic skills. Trace is also known for its beautiful rivers and meadows, many of which are seen through the myth especially when Eurydice dies and Orpheus’ head is thrown in the river. Greece also has many islands, over 1400 to be specific which is why the river carried Orpheus’ head downstream to the island of Lesvos. Religion & Culture : For greek religion, the sole obligation was for the greeks to believe that gods existed and to provide rituals and sacrifice for the gods. If anyone were to deny the existence of the gods or believe it to be false, they were to risk punishments from the deity or other mortals. Orpheus believed in the underworld and that it was ruled by the god Hades. He believed that Eurydice went to the underworld after she died and went to save her himself. Social Structure: In ancient greece, the social structure was split into 4 categories. The slaves, lower class(freedman), middle class (meltics), and upper class (athens). Slaves were people who were “propertied” by the wealthy, freedman were people who had been slaves but had enough money to buy their freedom, meltics are who have a decent amount of money (craftsmen, artists, merchants, etc.) and athens were the wealthiest people who were citizens and had slaves work for them. Women had specific roles in greek culture and they would always have fewer rights than men. Orpheus had to go to the underworld to save Eurydice as she is seen as weak and too incapable of saving herself. As for why the myth may have been created, there are many supposed reasons. The moral point that may have lead to the creation of the myth is the power of love. When Eurydice dies, Orpheus bends the will of Hades, goes down into the Underworld to get her and proves that love is stronger than death itself. The moral of the power of love may have been created to give hope of finding love to people in the lower social structures such as slaves or commoners. Second, trust is a key moral point which may have lead to the creation of the myth. If Orpheus had not turned to look back if Eurydice was following, they would have both made it back to the land of the living. The moral being to trust the gods and the greater beings, to trust your religion or faith and believe in it. Since ancient greek believed very strongly in their beliefs, they had many myths that had a moral of trusting the gods or greater powers. This helped provide support for why they should follow the culture of ancient greeks. Based on the morals of the myth, my thematic statement for the myth is “the adversity of death shows the extent of devotion between 2 people demonstrating that love conquers even the toughest of hardships and that we acknowledge the value of something once it’s gone. ” First, there is the symbol of Orpheus’ lyre which represents his appreciation of music and poetry. His lyre is also what attracted Eurydice to him and made them fell in love. The lyre also helps Orpheus defeat all the challenges in the underworld and helps persuade hades to let Eurydice go. Orpheus’ lyre helps him get his true love in the first place and after she dies. Both times, the lyre is what takes Eurydice back to Orpheus. Second, there is also the symbolism of snakes. Snakes are usually connected with sneakiness, temptation and death. The snake bit Eurydice without warning (sneaky) and kills her (death). The snake bit Eurydice on her ankle and in greek mythology ankles appear as a symbol vulnerability since they are the only body part that are “exposed”. For example, Achilles’ ankle is his weakness and the part of his body that brings him down. Even though the snake bite killed Eurydice, Orpheus stayed loyal to her until his dying breath. He loved her even more and was filled with grief after she was gone. This shows how death made Orpheus love Eurydice more, since she was no longer there. There is also a river / water allusion to the bible in the myth. In the bible, water is used for baptism and cleansing of sins. It symbolizes the cleansing of sins by a deity such as a god. Rivers symbolize the transition between life and death since they are constantly flowing. The river styx makes this clear since it’s a river in the underworld that’s allowing Orpheus to transition from the land of the living to the land of the dead. Also, Eurydice dies next to a river which shows her transition from being alive to dead. Additionally, the maenads kill orpheus and throw his body parts and head into a river. The river shows Orpheus’ transition from once being living to dying and going to the underworld. They also show Orpheus’ death is the cleansing of his sins, since Orpheus disobeyed a god, Hades, by looking back at Eurydice in the underworld when he was specifically told not to. Additionally there’s the biblical allusion to Lot and his Wife. The story of these 2 is that while the city was falling, God asked them to leave and never look back since the cities were so full of evil. Lot’s wife, tempted to do what is not allowed, turns to look back at the city and is turned to a pillar of salt. The message was taken that looking back is a form of disobedience towards god, after being told not to do a certain act. Also, many believe that god’s written our destiny and that whatever he decides is for the best, if we look back, it shows disobedience towards god for not accepting what he has in plan for us. Similarly, Orpheus was not to look back at Eurydice and was ordered from a deity just like Lot’s wife, in this case Hades. The main message was to not deny god’s and to respect them. Since Orpheus disobeyed Hades, he lost his wife to the underworld forever. The allusion shows that since Orpheus lost Eurydice forever, he loved her even more and would sing songs about her personality, looks, etc. her death, made her more valuable to Orpheus just like the city did to Lot’s wife after being destroyed. Relevance of myth to contemporary culture: The myths morals of the power of love being greater than anything else is seen throughout later societies. Also, it was believed that Orpheus was the start of many poetic and musical inspirations for people because of his magical voice. The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice was also used for many other love stories in literature such as Romeo and Juliet since they were not permitted to be together but their love was greater than anything else. Also the idea of death being inevitable is also seen throughout many books and movies in today’s culture (eg. the maze runner, if death is written for you, you will get it, there’s no avoiding it).