Orpheus

(2 syl.). A Thracian poet who could move even inanimate things by his music. When his wife Eurydie died he went into the infernal regions, and so charmed King Pluto that Eurydice was released from death on the condition that Orpheus would not look back till he reached the earth. He was just about to place his foot on the earth when he turned round, and Eurydice vanished from him in an instant. Pope introduces this tale in his St. Cecilia's Ode.

The tale of Orpheus
is thus explained: Aëoneus, King of Thesprotia, was for his cruelty called Pluto, and having seized Eurydieas she fled from Aristaeos, detained her captive. Orpheus obtained her release on certain conditions, which he violated, and lost her a second time.

There is rather a striking resemblance between the fate of Eurydice and that of Lot's wife. The former was emerging from hell, the latter from Sodom. Orpheus looked back and Eurydice was snatched away, Lot's wife looked back and was converted into a pillar of salt.

A Scandinavian Orpheus.
“Odin was so eminently skilled in music, and could sing airs so tender and melodious, that the rocks would expand with delight, while the spirits of the infernal regions would stand motionless around him, attracted by the sweetness of his strains.” (Scandinavia, by Crichton and Wheaton, vol. i. p. 81.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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