(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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