Study Guide

Orpheus

  • Profile

    Orpheus was the first ever rock star. He may not have an electric guitar, but you would not believe the things this guy can do on a lyre. Orpheus plays so beautifully that he can charm the pants off of anybody—mortals, gods, animals, trees, rocks—you name it. And not only is Orpheus a fabulous musician, but he's a hero to boot. He went with Jason and the Argonauts on the Quest for the Golden Fleece, where he drowned out the Sirens with his amazing music. He also makes it on the very short list of heroes who managed to go down to the Underworld and make it out again (when he tried to rescue his wife, Eurydice). On top of all that, Orpheus is said to be the founder of the Orphic religious cult, which promised its followers a blessed afterlife. Rock star, hero, prophet—pretty much, Orpheus was the man.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Orpheus

    Nickname

    King of Charm, Music Man

    Sex

    Male

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Musician

    General Duties: Charming everyone with my music, being awesome

    Education

    Mt. Parnassus Musical Conservatory
    I spent a semester abroad at Julliard

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Free love

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Mom: Calliope
    Dad: Oeagrus (or maybe Apollo—that seems pretty fitting)

    Children

    None. My one true love died much too early for children.

    Friends

    Eurydice
    Rocks
    Trees
    All my adoring fans

    Enemies

    Dionysus (we're kind of frienemies, really)
    The Maenads
    Snakes

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Married to Eurydice (death can't come between us)

    Favorites

    Quotations

    "Music is love in search of a word."
    – Sidney Lanier

    "Hell is full of musical amateurs."
    – George Bernard Shaw

    "I don't care much about music. What I like is sounds."
    – Dizzy Gillespie

    "I don't know anything about music. In my line I don't have to."
    – Elvis Presley

    "After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
    – Aldous Huxley

    Books

    "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (Sonnet 43)" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    "Bright Star, would I were stedfast as thou art" by John Keats
    Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams
    "Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)" by John Donne
    Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
    "Love Sonnet 17" by Pablo Neruda
    "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman
    "The Return of the Chorb" by Vladimir Nabokov

    Music

    It's not about individual songs for me. It's about the musician and who has the power to move me (and maybe animals and rocks) with their music.

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    The Beatles
    Bob Marley
    Johannes Brahms
    Radiohead
    Bon Iver
    John Coltrane
    Adele

    Movies

    Almost Famous
    Don't Look Back
    Amadeus
    Black Orpheus
    This Is Spinal Tap
    Mr. Holland's Opus
    Walk the Line
    Orpheus
    The Princess Bride
    That Thing You Do!
    Help!

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Singer/Songwriters
    Guitar Hero
    Garage Band
    Home Recording Equipment
    Andean Pan Flute Bands
    Summer Concert Season
    Spelunking

    Interests

    Musicology
    Lyric Poetry
    Cults
    Underworld Exploration

    Groups

    Music Lovers
    Real Life Rock Stars
    Dead Before Our Time
    Orpheus Fan Club (Founder)

    • Spotter's Guide

      Orpheus only plays concerts down in the Underworld these days. You'll find him singing his heart out and strumming his lyre down in Elysium, the city of the blessed dead, where he sells out the Elysian Dome night after night. You'll probably be able to catch a glimpse of his wife, Eurydice, giving him googly eyes from backstage. You might have to wait in a long line of adoring fans to get a chance to talk to Orpheus, but if you do manage to get a second with him, you should totally get his autograph. Can you imagine what that would go for on eBay? People would pay big bucks for an album signed by the first ever rock star.

      Sex: Male
      Age: Early twenties
      Build: Lean, not-so-mean Underworld-traveling machine
      Complexion: Pale
      Hair Color: Blonde/Brown
      Facial Hair: None
      Scars/marks/tattoos: None
      Jewelry and accessories: Lyre—he won't leave home without it
      Clothing: Robes
      Armor: Not necessary—he's got the power of music
      Type of Weapon: His music can take down just about anyone or anything

      Typical Companions:

      Eurydice
      The Muses
      Apollo
      Adoring fans

      Known Hangouts:

      Concerts
      Music Shops
      Record Stores
      The Underworld

    • Sightings

      Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

      Argonautica Orphica

      Get a sneak peek into Orpheus' mind—this ancient poem tells the story the Quest for the Golden Fleece from our favorite musician's perspective.

      Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

      Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius

      Orpheus sure was popular back in the day: in Argonautica, you can read all about his days as an Argonaut.

      Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

      The Orphic Hymns

      According to legend, these ancient poems were written by Orpheus himself. A musician and a poet to boot!

      Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

      The Library by Apollodorus

      One of the earliest accounts of the myth of "Orpheus and Eurydice" is just a click away. Thank you, Internet.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Georgics by Virgil

      The big cheese of epic Roman poets has his own version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. It's pretty… poetic.

      Dec 20, 2019

      The Metamorphoses by Ovid

      And here's a version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth by, you know, that other Roman poet.

      Dec 20, 2019

      L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi

      In L'Orfeo, Orpheus is around for all your baroque opera needs.

      Dec 20, 1762

      Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald von Gluck

      Have you ever wondered what the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice would be like if it were retold in the form of a German opera? Well, it's your lucky day.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Eurydice by Jean Anouilh

      Everyone wants to get in on the action: in Eurydice, a famous French playwright tells his version of the myth of Orpheus and his lovely wife.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Orphée

      Writer/director Jean Cocteau artsy fartsies it up in this film version — Orpheus is both the title and the star.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Black Orpheus

      Want to see the dark side of Orpheus? Well here's a steamy version of his story, set in South America.

      Dec 20, 1982

      The Storyteller: Greek Myths

      Jim Henson, master of Muppets, puts his unique spin on Orpheus' myth. It's always better when Muppets are (kind of) involved.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl

      Orpheus' wife is the namesake for this this beautiful and imaginative spin on the tale by hotshot playwright Sarah Ruhl.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Orpheus and Eurydice: A Myth Underground by Mollie Davies, music by James Johnston and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

      This dramatic reinterpretation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth was created for the National Youth Theater of Britain. Fancy shmancy.