Who is Orpheus?



GRADUALLY the stories of the Greeks extended beyond their "nature-myths" or tales of the gods, and told of the doings of men in conflict with the gods. That is to say, man was at first regarded as helplessly submissive; later he thought of himself as daring to face the gods and match his will against theirs.

The earliest man of whom Greek story tells is Orpheus. He is said to have introduced the worship of the gods into Greece, to have taught men religion and medicine, and to have recorded his doctrines in poems. Chiefly, however, he was noted as a musician. With the strains of his golden lyre he swayed men and animals to follow him. Even trees and rocks moved under the impulse of his music. He was wedded to the nymph Eurydice and so loved her that on her death he followed her shade down into Hades. By his music he persuaded Pluto and Persephone to let Eurydice follow him back to earth. A condition however was made, that he must not look back at her until she was safe beyond Hades. Such was his longing for his wife that at the last step he turned around too quickly; and Eurydice was carried back by the god Mercury into the darkness. Orpheus went mad, and in his ravings insulted the bacchantes, the women followers of the god of wine. They in their anger tore the musician to pieces.






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Read about Who is Orpheus? in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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