Great Greek Myths. S1:E4: Orpheus

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September 23, 2023- by Steven E. Greer

Orpheus was given a magical musical instrument, a lyre, that created mesmerizing music. He was a mortal, but some suspected that Apollo, who gave him the lyre was actually his father.

Apollo gave him the instrument in honor of the nine Muses. Those Muses raised him.

He was popular when he traveled. Wherever Orpheus went, he drew crowds and followers.

He learned of the adventure that Jason and his Argonauts were planning to get the golden fleece from Colchis. If Jason could get the fleece, then he would win the throne.

The story of the fleece was that a winged golden ram had flown two children to safety from their stepmom. Phrixus remained on the ram when his sister fell. When he arrived at Colchis, he sacrificed the lamb for Zeus, and he hung the fleece on a magic oak that was protected by a dragon.

Orpheus offered to help Jason. On the boat, Argo, his music calmed the seas and paced the oarsmen. At Colchin, the music charmed the dragon and the got the golden fleece.

On their way back after successfully getting the fleece, The Siren mermaids began to mesmerize the Argonauts. However, Orpheus began outplaying them drowned them out. The Sirens committed suicide.

After that adventure, Orpheus went to Egypt.

Orpheus inspired his inspired his followers to stop eating meat because it was the cause of famine. If mortals did not have to rely on meat, they would starve less often. But this disrupted the order of the world created by Zeus.

Orpheus met a nymph name Eurydice. They were a perfect match and married. There was a big wedding where all of the guards attended. Hymen, the god of marriage, made a flame at the wedding flicker out, which was a bad omen.

Months later, Orpheus and Eurydice were in a field of flowers. A shepherd named Aristaeus came upon Eurydice, who had wandered off and fell asleep. When she awoke, she ran away so fast that she did not see a viper snake that bit her. She died.

Orpheus was so distraught that he went down to the underworld to try to bring her back. At the river Styx, he ran into Charon and his lyre mesmerized him, as well as Cerberus the dog guarding the Gates.

When before Hades and Persephone, the lyre sound convince them to allow him to take Eurydice back up from the dead. It was under one condition. He was not allowed to look back at her on their way up. However, he could not resist and looked back. She was forever doomed to the underworld. The lesson is that men have a tendency to sabotage themselves by getting careless before a task is completed.

Above ground and alone, Orpheus could only sing sad songs. The Maenads of Dionysus ran into him. They were so annoyed by his sad songs that they tore him apart. They threw his head into the river where it continued to sing. It floated all the way to the island of Lesbos.

Zeus gave a constellation to Orpheus called Lyra.

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