Orpheus (Greek: Ορφεύς) was considered one of the chief poets and musicians of antiquity, and is still a symbol of the art of music. By dint of his music and singing, he could charm the wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance, even arrest the course of rivers.
Giuseppe Cades: Orpheus Charming the Animals, 1780, Pen, ink, wash; 14.5 x 38 cm,
The best known Orpheus myth is about his love to Eurydice, described in several musical masterpieces. When Orpheus’ wife, Eurydice, was killed he went to the underworld to bring her back. Fascinated by the beauty of his music the god of the underworld allowed Eurydice to return to the world of the living. Although warned against looking back, he did so anyway and lost his beloved wife once again.
He lost interest in women after that event, but they did not lose interest in him. Thus, a group of angry women attacked him with their bare hands, and tore him to pieces. Orpheus’ head floated down the river, still singing, and came to rest on the isle of Lesbos.
Apart†from being a symbol of music, Orpheus is considered as one of the pioneers of civilization; he is said to have taught mankind the arts of writing, agriculture, and even medicine.
The mysterious power of his music today is shown in the power of science. The indestructibility of his music symbolizes the will power needed to achieve significant results in life, as well as in medical research.