Orpheus, Apollo’s son, became famous for his extraordinary music and poetry. As talented as he was, he was unable to find love. But one golden afternoon he saw Eurydice, a beautiful nymph. The two fell in love.
But their love was fated to be short. When Eurydice died, Orpheus descended to Hades’ underworld to bring her back. There he succeeded — and failed.
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EPISODE 53: THE DOOMED LOVE OF ORPHEUS & EURYDICE
IN THIS EPISODE WE DESCEND AGAIN TO THE UNDERWORLD TO VISIT SOME OF THE SAME CHARACTERS THAT WE MET IN THE PREVIOUS TWO SHOWS.
BUT THIS TIME, WE ENCOUNTER A PAIR OF LOVERS WHO SEAL THEIR FATE IN HADES' DARK ABODE.
THEIR STORY CAN ONLY BE DESCRIBED AS A CLASSIC TRAGEDY. ONE OF THE LOVERS IS APOLLO'S SON, WHO FALLS MADLY IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOOD NYMPH.
THEIRS HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR GREEK MYTHS FOR MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND YEARS, VARIATIONS OF IT HAVE BEEN TURNED INTO PAINTINGS, POEMS, PLAYS & STATUES.
AN ORACLE WARNS THEM THAT THEIR LIVES TOGETHER WILL BE SHORT. THEY DISREGARD THE PROPHESY. THEIR LOVE IS TOO INTENSE TO ABANDON.
IRONICALLY, APOLLO'S SON IS HIMSELF AN ORACLE. OBVIOUSLY HE SHOULD KNOW BETTER & HEED THE WARNING, YET he BLUNDERS AHEAD. THE TALE HAS A BIT OF A ROMEO & JULIET FLAVOR TO IT.
WHO ARE THE PROTAGONISTS? — IN THIS EPISODE WE MEET ORPHEUS, A MUSICAL PHENOMENON, & EURYDICE, THE NYMPH WHO WILL BECOME HIS BRIDE.
WELCOME TO EPISODE 53 OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY. WE HAVE LISTENERS FROM 173 COUNTRIES ... SO WELCOME TO EVERYONE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.
I'M YOUR HOST, MYTHOLOGIST PATRICK GARNER.
BEFORE WE GET INTO TODAY’S PODCAST, I’D LIKE YOUR FEEDBACK ABOUT AN IDEA I’M MULLING OVER. I WANT TO SHARE NEW STORIES ABOUT THE GREEK GODS WITH AN EVEN WIDER AUDIENCE.
I’M THINKING ABOUT TURNING MY 4 NOVELS ABOUT THE GODS—CALLED THE NAXOS QUARTET—INTO A MOVIE, OR EVEN INTO A TV SERIES.
MY BOOKS ARE NOT THE OLD MYTHOLOGICAL TALES WE ALL KNOW. THEY’RE COMPELLING STORIES ABOUT THE ANCIENT GODS IN THE MODERN WORLD.
THINK ABOUT IT: YOU’RE A WEALTHY FINANCIER AT YOUR COUNTRY ESTATE WHO CASUALLY LOOKS OUT A REAR WINDOW TOWARD THE WOODS.
YOU SUDDENLY SEE A YOUNG WOMAN IN AN ARCHAIC GOWN, HOLDING A SILVER BOW AND ARROWS, LOOKING BACK AT YOU.
HER EYES ARE SEVERE. THIS IS ANOTHER OF THE STRANGE EVENTS THAT SEEM TO HAVE BEEN BUILDING INEXORABLY FOR YOU & YOUR DAUGHTER.
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW IS THAT THE YOUNG WOMAN YOU SEE IS ACTUALLY THE GREEK GODDESS ARTEMIS, & SHE IS PART OF AN EXTRAORDINARY PLAN TO REINTRODUCE THE ANCIENT GODS INTO OUR WORLD.
IN THE COURSE OF EVENTS THAT TAKE PLACE IN MY 4 BOOKS, MANY OF THE OLD GODS APPEAR REPEATEDLY. SOME PLAY BIG ROLES, OTHERS HAVE BRIEF BUT DRAMATIC PARTS.
ALL OF THEM NEED TO BE CAST, & THAT’S WHERE YOU COME IN. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON SCREEN?
FOR STARTERS, WE NEED THE THREE FATES, ARTEMIS, DANAE AND A BEVY OF NYMPHS. THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE READ THE WINNOWING — WHICH IS BOOK 1 OF THE SERIES — MAY ALREADY HAVE A PICTURE IN YOUR MIND OF WHAT THESE CHARACTERS LOOK LIKE.
IF YOU’VE ALSO READ BOOKS 2, 3 & 4 — THEIR TITLES ARE CYCLADIC GIRLS, HOMO DIVINITAS & ALL THAT LASTS — YOU'RE AHEAD OF THE GAME! YOU’LL NOTE THAT SOME CHARACTERS SHOW UP AGAIN & AGAIN.
THINK ARTEMIS, APOLLO, POSEIDON, DIONYSUS, HERMES & HEPHAISTOS.
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF POSEIDON & THE OLD BOATMAN CHARON, ALL THE GODS NEED TO LOOK BETWEEN 2O- 30 YEARS OLD.
TO GET YOU STARTED, I’LL JUMP IN TO NOTE THAT WHEN I VISUALIZE TIMESSA — WHO IS A STARTLING NYMPH TURNED SUPER MODEL & EVENTUALLY AN IMMENSELY POWERFUL GODDESS — I SEE TAYOR SWIFT!
I KNOW SHE’S A SINGER, BUT SHE WOULD BE AN AWESOME ACTRESS!
I’VE SET UP A PAGE ON MY WEBSITE PATRICKGARNERBOOKS.COM WITH A LIST OF THE KEY CHARACTERS WHO NEED TO BE PAIRED WITH ACTORS & ACTRESSES.
CONTACT ME THROUGH THE WEBSITE WITH YOUR SUGGESTIONS. I'LL ANNOUNCE THEM ON A FUTURE PODCAST.
AND WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? IF THE NAXOS QUARTET MAKES IT TO THE SCREEN & ONE OF YOUR CASTING SUGGESTIONS IS CHOSEN, YOUR NAME WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE MOVIE OR TV CREDITS.
BECAUSE WE NEED TO PUT AN END DATE TO THIS PROCESS, THE CONTEST WILL RUN UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2023.
NOW, BACK TO THE EPISODE!
ORPHEUS … HE WAS BORN FROM APOLLO'S UNION WITH ONE OF THE SEVEN MUSES. EVEN AS A CHILD HE WAS GOLDEN-HAIRED, LITHE & HANDSOME.
FROM AN EARLY AGE ORPHEUS WAS ABLE TO MESMERIZE BIRDS BY PLAYING HIS LYRE. BECAUSE I'LL BE MENTIONING THE LYRE FREQUENTLY, I'LL NOTE THAT THE LYRE, A STRINGED INSTRUMENT, IS TODAY MORE COMMONLY CALLED A LUTE.
APOLLO DOTED OVER HIS GIFTED SON. IT WAS SAID THAT THE GOD TAUGHT ORPHEUS TO PLAY HIS TORTOISE-SHELLED LYRE EVEN BEFORE HE COULD WALK.
AS ORPHEUS' TALENTS GREW, HIS PLAYING & SINGING WOULD NOT ONLY MESMERIZE BIRDS, IT WOULD TAME LIONS & BEARS. ALL OF THE GODS WERE AMAZED.
HIS POWERS GREW. SOMETIMES WHEN HE PLAYED, ROCKS MOVED & RIVERS SHIFTED LOCATIONS AS IF THEY WERE LONG BLACK SNAKES AWAKENED TO LIFE.
OF COURSE, IT HELPED THAT HIS FATHER APOLLO WAS A MASTER OF THE THE LYRE. APOLLO SPENT MANY HOURS SHOWING HIS SON TECHNIQUES THAT NO HUMAN COULD KNOW.
AS A DIVINITY APOLLO COULD DRAW UPON THE MUSIC OF THE PLANETS & STARS OVERHEAD TO ENHANCE HIS MUSIC.
AND THE GOD WAS QUICK TO TRAIN HIS SON TO HEAR THAT SAME CELESTIAL MUSIC, & IN TURN, TO IMITATE ITS GOLDEN NOTES WHEN HE PLAYED.
APOLLO WAS ALSO A PATRON OF POETRY. HE TAUGHT THE ART TO HIS SON … IN TIME ORPHEUS HIMSELF COULD SPIN WORDS AS WELL AS ANY POET.
TO THE FATHER’S delight, IN TIME ORPHEUS SURPASSED HIS FATHER IN PLAYING THE LYRE.
ALL WHO HEARD HIS PLAYING WERE CHARMED. GODS WEPT. GODDESSES SPONTANEOUSLY DANCED. BIRDS CARTWHEELED OVERHEAD.
HIS TALENTS GREW EVER STRONGER. HIS GIFT BLOSSOMED. SHAKESPEARE WROTE OF HIM,
FOR ORPHEUS' LUTE WAS STRUNG WITH POET'S SINEWS
WHOSE GOLDEN TOUCH COULD SOFTEN STEEL & STONES,
MAKE TIGERS TAME, & HUGE LEVIATHANS
FORSAKE UNSOUNDED DEPTHS TO DANCE ON SANDS.
WHILE HE WAS STILL A YOUNG MAN ORPHEUS BECAME ASSOCIATED WITH MYSTIC CULTS.
PERHAPS IT WAS HIS HAUNTING VOICE, OR HIS EMOTIVE LUTE PLAYING.WITH HIS DAZZLING POETRY.
HE INSPIRED THE INFAMOUS BACCHAE. YOU REMEMBER THEM: THEY WERE THE WILD, FRENZIED WOMEN WHO FOLLOWED DIONYSUS, THE WINE GOD.
THESE WOMEN DANCED IN THE WOODS THROUGH THE NIGHT ... & TORE WILD ANIMALS APART WITH THEIR HANDS.
SOMETIMES AN UNFORTUNATE MAN WHO WANDERED INTO THEIR REVELRIES WOULD MEET THE SAME FATE. ALL THE WHILE — & ECSTATIC AS THEY DANCED — THEY SANG ORPHEUS' GLORIOUS SONGS.
BECAUSE OF THIS HE'S OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE MADNESS THAT ACCOMPANIED DIONYSUS & HIS FOLLOWERS.
THERE'S MORE. HE WAS ALSO CONSIDERED AN ORACLE. HUMANS WHO IN DESPERATION SOUGHT HIS HELP COULD EXPECT HIS HONESTY.
HIS RESPONSES TO QUERIES WERE UNBLEMISHED & INCORRUPT. HIS ADVICE WAS SAID TO BE FLAWLESS.
THIS TOO WAS NOT UNEXPECTED AS APOLLO, WHOSE PROPHESIES WERE VOICED BY THE PYTHIA AT DELPHI, WAS THE MOST FAMOUS ORACLE IN GREECE.
THAT HIS SON FOLLOWED IN HIS FOOTSTEPS WAS HARDLY SURPRISING. IN TIME HIS ORACULAR ACTIVITIES BECAME PART OF WHAT WERE CALLED THE ORPHIC MYSTERIES …
AND HIS STRANGE POEMS, WHEN CHANTED LIKE MANTRAS BY THE BACCHAE, BECAME A MEANS TO REACH AN OTHERWISE UNATTAINABLE EUPHORIA.
AS ORPHEUS GREW INTO MANHOOD, HIS ENCHANTING VOICE, MAD POETRY & SPELLBINDING LYRE, BECAME INCREASINGLY ASSOCIATED WITH RAPTURE & REVELATION.
HIS MOTHER, WHO AS I NOTED WAS ONE OF THE MUSES, HAD OBVIOUSLY INSPIRED HIM ... WITH HIS IMMENSE GIFTS HE WAS CELEBRATED & IDOLIZED.
BUT WHAT HE HAD NEVER FOUND WAS LOVE. REGARDLESS OF HIS VAST TALENTS, HE FELT AN INEXPLICABLE EMPTINESS.
One day WHEN HE was in the woods playing HIS lyre, Orpheus noticed a beautiful wood nymph. HER NAME WAS Eurydice.
THE GIRL heard Orpheus playing the lyre, & she was RIVETED BY the beautiful music. Likewise, WHEN Orpheus SAW HER, HE was INSTANTLY drawn TO HER beauty.
It was love at first sight for them BOTH. WITHIN A SHORT TIME THEY HAD BECOME INSEPARABLE. HE WAS HAPPY FOR THE FIRST TIME.
ORPHEUS TAUGHT Eurydice HOW TO PLAY HIS LYRE. SHE LEARNED HIS SONGS & TAUGHT HIM SECRETS OF THE WOODS.
AT NIGHT UNDER THE MOONLIGHT HE WOULD RECITE HIS POETRY AS SHE LISTENED IN AWE ... DURING THE DAY THE TWO WERE CONTENT TO SIMPLY LOOK INTO EACH OTHER'S EYES.
AND TO HIS DELIGHT HE DISCOVERED THAT SHE HAD A SINGING VOICE AS PURE AS THE WATERS & WOODS SHE GUARDED. THEIR MATCH SEEMED PERFECT.
HE FELT COMPLETE. WITHIN A SHORT TIME They AGREED TO marrY. EURYDICE PLANNED a beautiful ceremony with WEEKS OF festivities.
YET Hymenaios, the god of marriage who PRESIDED OVER their VOWS, TOOK THEM ASIDE MOMENTS BEFORE THE EVENT.
HE warned THE TWO that their marriage wouldn't last. HE WHISPERED, "NOTHING GOOD WILL COME OF THIS. BELIEVE ME & END THIS NOW —"
However, THE TWO were in love & THEIR relatiOnship seemed INCOMPARABLE. THEY LAUGHED AT HIS DRAMATIC PREDICTION & TOLD HIM TO CONDUCT THE RITES.
FOR WEEKS AFTER THE CELEBRATION, THE WORLD SEEMED TO BE WONDERFUL. ORPHEUS WAS DEVOTED TO EURYDICE & HIS NEW WIFE ADORED HIM.
BUT HER beauty was apparent to more than just Orpheus. A shepherd named Aristaeus had noticed Eurydice’s beauty & wanted her for himself.
ONE LATE afternoon he hid in bushes AT THE EDGE OF A MEADOW & waited for THE TWO TO PASS. HIS plan was to kill Orpheus & take Eurydice aWAY.
As THE LOVERS neared, Aristaeus jumped out & SWUNG HIS STAFF AT ORPHEUS. but AFTER A STRUGGLE, THE SHEPHERD was unable to DEFEAT HIM.
Orpheus grabbed Eurydice, & they began running through the woods TO GET away from HIM.
As they ran Aristaeus chased them. Orpheus held Eurydice’s hand as they DASHED THROUGH THE WOODS.
SUDDENLY HE felt HER FALL & slip out of his hands. SHE CRIED OUT & HE TURNED.
TO HIS HORROR Orpheus saw a venomous snake COILED AROUND HER LEG. AS HE WATCHED it bit her REPEATEDLY.
Eurydice FELL ONTO HER BACK, GASPING. HER ANKLE TURNED BLACK. Orpheus knew she was dying, & that he could do nothing to save her.
HIS SONGS, HIS MUSIC — ALL WERE USELESS. THERE IN HIS ARMS, within minutes OF THE snakebite, Eurydice died IN ANGUISH.
ORPHEUS WAS THE WILDLY TALENTED SON OF A GOD, BUT ALL OF HIS GIFTS WERE INCAPABLE OF STOPPING DEATH.
Eurydice descended to the underworld.
Orpheus was not the same person after Eurydice died. He NO LONGER played the lyre, & THE EMPTINESS THAT HAD HAUNTED HIM EARLIER RETURNED.
Orpheus wanted Eurydice back, & he did the only thing he COULD THINK OF: He asked his father for help.
APOLLO WAS TAKEN ABACK, SAYING, "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO? SHE'S DEAD."
Orpheus asked HIM to ALLOW him go to the underworld & retrieve his wife. Apollo'S FIRST REACTION WAS ASTONISHMENT. HE SAID, "THE LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD NEVER GRANTS SUCH WISHES.”
But Orpheus was unrelenting with his pleas. Finally, Apollo went to Hades, the god of that darkness.
Standing before Hades & Persephone, Apollo told the two that Orpheus wanted HIS WIFE BACK, THAT HE WAS WILLING TO BEG FOR the return of Eurydice.
Lord Hades laughed at the bizarre request, saying, “We never grant such requests. The girl is dead.”
YET after some time Apollo persuaded Hades & Persephone to listen to Orpheus’ appeal, saying, “My lord, what do you have to lose?”
And so with his lyre in hand, Orpheus made his way into the underworld & found the great mansion where Hades lived.
Granted an audience Orpheus played his lyre & sang to Hades & Persephone. He used EVERY SKILL HIS FATHER HAD TAUGHT HIM.
His music carried through the vast underworld. Everyone there was moved to tears by the beautiful songs that Orpheus played.
At the MUSIC’s end Hades CONCEDED & agreed to let Orpheus take Eurydice to the upper world. THEN HADES PAUSED. HE TOLD ORPHEUS THAT HE COULD DO SO under one condition:
Orpheus had to lead Eurydice out of the underworld, & AS HE DID, HE could not look back at her for any reason.
Hades emphasized THAT HE COULD SEE HER only when she finally EMERGED INTO THE light of the upper world.
WHEN ORPHEUS LOOKED CONFUSED, Hades repeated that Orpheus could not look at EURYDICE while she was still in the darkNESS OF THE underworld.
Orpheus UNDERSTOOD. HE rejoiced. His plan had worked: His music had charmed even the lord of death. AS IF BY MAGIC Eurydice appeared beside him & he SMILED IN TRIUMPH.
Without wasting a moment he began leading her out of the GLOOM. He ignored the moans & whispers of the COUNTLESS dead AS they ASCENDED.
NOTHING MATTERED EXCEPT THAT THEY WERE ESCAPING.
As they neared the upper world, Orpheus could hear THE SOUND OF living THINGS. bird songs & wind THROUGH TREES SANG OUT. He could not contain his excitement.
Seeing a WIDE entrance filled with golden light, Orpheus RUSHED into the upper world & felt the sun on his shoulders.
Overjoyed he turned around to embrace his wife, but she was NOT THERE. SHE WAS far behind & BARELY VISIBLE in the dark.
As THE TWO LOOKED AT EACH OTHER over the distance, she cried out in vain, knowing too well THAT he had blundered.
His eagerness had been their undoing. They would never touch again. She stood in the gloom, weeping, then AS HE WATCHED, she vanished into the darkness.
Hades & Persephone had gazed without expression as the lovers had run toward the sun. THE DARK LORD had no sympathy.
Now Eurydice’s fate was sealed. the beautiful wood nymph was condemned to the underworld forever.
JOIN ME ... FOR A FUTURE EPISODE OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY.
AND VISIT Patrick-Garner-Books-dot-com. THE WEBSITE IS ALL ABOUT THIS PODCAST ... & ABOUT MY 4 NOVELS…. AND IT INCLUDES A NEW PAGE TO HELP YOU ENTER MY CASTING CONTEST FOR THE NAXOS QUARTET MOVIE OR TV SERIES.
ONE MORE THING, IF YOU HAVE YOUNGSTERS IN YOUR LIFE, THERE'S A NEW CHILDREN'S BOOK THAT SHOULD BE ON YOUR BOOKSHELF.
IT'S CALLED READ-ALOUD STORIES FOR YOUNG LISTENERS, BY D.K. GARNER. THERE ARE NO GREEK GODS, BUT ANIMALS — ALWAYS PART OF GREEK LIFE — PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THESE CHARMING STORIES.
THEY TALK WITH THE CHILDREN AT THE MOMENT A LITTLE HELP IS NEEDED, EVERYONE CAN ENJOY THE STORIES OF U-TURN THE CROW, ELI THE DOG, WINKY THE HORSE, NOT-GEORGE THE BUNNY & ROOTY THE ROOSTER.
VISIT PATRICKGARNERBOOKS.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION. AND THANKS FOR LISTENING ...
THIS IS YOUR HOST, PATRICK GARNER.