Study Guide

Orpheus and Eurydice Eurydice

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In life, Eurydice was a pretty happy-go-lucky gal. She was a wood nymph, she loved sexy musicians, and she had a habit of running through meadows like she was in a Vogue photo shoot. The fact that she wandered off into a field with her best friends (the Naiads) tells us that she was probably a chatty, sociable, free-spirited sort of lady.

Unfortunately, Eurydice is far less upbeat after she died. (Makes sense, right?) She is ghostly, cold, and walks with a limp from that nasty snake bite. In some versions of the myth, she's also a little hard on Orpheus when he turns around to look at her. While some writers say that Eurydice utters a single, mournful word ("Farewell!"), others say she just chews him out. Eek!

Since the ancient writers didn't spend much time describing Eurydice, playwright Sarah Ruhl decided to fill in the gaps. In her play Eurydice, Ruhl tells the story from Eurydice's point of view. She follows the young wife as she descends into the gloomy Underworld and meets the creatures who live there. It's a more modern (although still very depressing!) take on the myth, and received a wonderful review in the New York Times when it appeared off-Broadway.

These days, Eurydice is associated with beauty, love, and tragic death. And not surprisingly, she has become a symbol for deceased loved ones, who were unfairly taken from life too soon.

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