Study Guide

Orpheus and Eurydice

  • Why Should I Care?

    Have you ever ended a relationship with someone, only to find that you can't stop thinking about them? (Ouch, right?) Have you ever gotten a second chance and then totally blown it? (Double ouch.) Well then, the story of Orpheus and Eurydicemight just be for you.

    Orpheus, the rock star of Greek mythology, falls head over heels in love with Eurydice, a beautiful wood nymph. The two get married, and are ready to embark on an blissful life of making-out between Orpheus' jam sessions when BAM!, Eurydice dies of a snake bite. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

    Overcome with grief, Orpheus starts to play some majorly sad songs on his lyre (the electric guitar hadn't been invented yet), and decides to heroically travel to the Underworld to free his main squeeze.

    It's a story of passionate love, gut-wrenching heartbreak, and musical awesomeness – and it's got a twist ending that'll have you singing the blues. So break out the tissues and turn on a sad Taylor Swift ballad, because Orpheus and Eurydice might beat Romeo and Juliet for Most Tragic Love Story Ever.

    • Best of the Web

      Orpheus and Eurydice Resources

      Websites

      Edith Hamilton's Myth Mash-Up
      Check out this great summary of the Orpheus and Eurydice story, as told by myth master Edith Hamilton.

      Movie and TV Productions

      Jim Henson's Version (Kermit Not Included)
      Take a look at part one of the Orpheus and Eurydice episode from Jim Henson's "The Storyteller: Greek Myths" television series. You know it's big when the Muppet-Master takes it on.

      A Brazilian Spin
      Orfeu Negro (or Black Orpheus) is a movie adaptation of the myth set in Brazil. Check out that movie cover.

      Getting Existential with the French
      Here's a clip from Orphée, a Parisian film based on the myth. Sounds fancy!

      Plays, Ballets, and Operas

      Goin' Down to Hadestown
      Check out this website about the folk opera "Hadestown," which draws heavily from the myth.

      How Long Can You Hold That Note?
      Here you'll see some clips and interviews from the Minnesota Opera's 2010 production of Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice.

      Tim Burton Would be Proud
      Cirque Beserk takes on the myth in its performance, "Beneath."

      An Ancient Character in a Pink Dress
      Check out a clip of Sarah Ruhl's play Eurydice at the Second Stage Theatre.

      Videogames

      Pixilated Orpheus
      Here's a clip of Orpheus in The Battle of Olympus, a Nintendo game from the 1980s. Oh my, that music. (And yes, this is what videogames used to look like.)

      Video

      Shadow Puppet Heartbreak
      A very pretty portrayal of the myth by Kansas City Art Institute students, using shadow puppets. Pretty stinkin' cool.

      Audio

      Belting It
      Listen to some audio samples from Christoph Willibald Gluck's famous opera, Orphee et Euridice.

      Downright Lyrical
      Check out this Delphic hymn to Apollo played on an old lyre, like the one Orpheus might have carried.

      Books

      Ovid's Spin
      Allen Mandlebaum wrote a fantastic translation of Ovid's classic poem Metamorphoses, which includes the Orpheus and Eurydice myth.

      Virgil's Take
      Janet Lembke translates Virgil's poem nature-focused Georgics, which also includes a nod to the tragic myth.

      Comic Book
      Neil Gaiman's popular Sandman comic book series includes a retelling of the myth, in an issue called The Song of Orpheus. From epic poetry to modern comics – not too shabby.

      Images

      An Elevator to the Underworld
      Here, Eurydice arrives in the Underworld – by elevator! – in Sarah Ruhl's play Eurydice (at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre).

      Love in Rio
      Check out this beautiful, sun-dappled image from the movie Black Orpheus.

      No Peeking
      Famous sculptor Auguste Rodin takes on Orpheus and Eurydice. Kind of literal, don't you think?