Study Guide

Orpheus and Eurydice Setting

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Thrace and the Underworld

Orpheus hailed from Thrace, a region in northeastern Greece. Thrace is known for its Rhodope Mountains, its impressive rivers, and its beautiful meadows, through which Orpheus and Eurydice liked to frolic – before Eurydice died, that is. After Orpheus loses Eurydice (both times!), he wanders around Thrace, belting out sad songs to whatever trees, rocks, or animals will listen.

Then we've got (dun dun dun) the Underworld, which is dark, dank, and full of pitiful creatures. In order to gain entrance to the Underworld, you descend into the mouth of a cave, travel downward for a bit, and then cross the River Styx. The River Styx is the boundary between the realms of the living and the dead. It is manned by the Ferryman Charon, who carries the newly deceased to the Underworld in his boat. After getting off your not-so-scenic Styx cruise, you pass through the gates of Hades, which are guarded by the three-headed dog Cerberus. How does it sound so far?

Once you're inside, you'll find that Hades has several different regions, including the horrible Tartarus (where all the evil people go), the boring Asphodel Meadows (where the people who are equally good and evil go), and the Elysian Fields (the final resting place for heroes and other awesome peeps). As Orpheus travels through Hades, we catch glimpses of the poor souls stuck in hellish Tartarus, including stone-rolling Sisyphus and a former king named Ixion, who was tied to a spinning wheel of fire for eternity. Yikes. If you're into this kind of stuff, we also recommend that you check out Dante's Inferno. Pretty freaky stuff.

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