Being a musician and bard, I fancy all things musical and lyrical.
My topic today is to look at the tale of Orpheus. There are many stories, some conflicting (as doth happen in folklore and Mythology), these are the ones I like best.
The Greeks considered Orpheus to be the Greatest of all Poets & Musicians. It is said that he was the son of the God, Apollo and the daughter of the Muse of Epic Poetry, Calliope. The gifts of his parents at his birth were: a golden lyre and the ability to play it- from his father, Apollo and from his mother, the gift of being able to create lyrics and verse. Orpheus made his way with money earned as a Wizard and a Musician and courted for himself, Thalia, the Laughing Muse of Comedy.
Surely, with lineage such as this, I have to research him a bit in my quest for knowledge on these topics!
A magickal tale it is! One of Invention, Enchantment, Melody, Muse and Inspiration with a bonus of a wild Greek tragedy ending!
While Hermes may have invented the lyre (see my earlier post on Hermes) it was Orpheus who made it perfect. He could charm wild animals and birds and even make the rocks and trees dance!
How wondrous! Jason and the Argonauts were even saved by Orpheus on their voyage. Unlike Odysseus and his men who fell prey to the Sirens, Orpheus heard the Sirens calls of entrancing lure and played his lyre LOUDER and drowned out the Sirens. ( Like Nigel Tufnel says in "Spinal Tap": "this knob goes to 11..and that's one louder, isn't it?" :)
One day Orpheus's wife Eurydice, was confronted by a Satyr (I'm thinking in a an overtly sexual way, as...well.... that's how Satyrs roll...) and to avoid the rape, Eurydice unfortunately fell into a pit of vipers (how symbolic) and was bitten and died. Orpheus went to the Underworld to win her back. He is the only mortal to have gone into the Underworld and come back alive. His music so charmed Hades and Persephone that he was given his wife back and told that they should proceed to the surface. IF Orpheus was able to emerge to the top surface WITHOUT looking back at his wife, she would be free and alive again. He led her home and to a new rebirth.
The last tale is about his end of life.
It's really pretty wild.
Orpheus as he aged, withdrew his belief in the Gods, all save Apollo (or the Sun). In a fit of wild frenzy the Dionysius (Bacchus) Maenads tore him to shreds (as wild Maenads are wont to do).
His head and his lyre were thrown into the water, and as they floated along, still singing....(pretty kewl and creepy, that..). His head and fragments of his body was buried beneath Mount Olympus and nightingales still sing over his grave.
His lyre was whisked away to the heavens and placed among the stars.
A musician's musician with all the tales of a life well loved....
and well played.